In the history of b-solutions, obstacles identified under the thematic area of “Institutional cooperation” have always been the most numerous ones among the different thematic areas covered by the initiative.
As written in the European Commission’s Communication COM(2017) 534 final, they arise because “EU Member States have different administrative cultures and systems and this diversity can be a constraint when the systems meet” across the borders.
After the 16 obstacles identified in the course of the first two calls for proposals (and whose findings are available on the first b-solutions’ compendium), 8 more have been selected under the third call for proposals to receive advice by legal experts who will propose sustainable ways to overcome them.
They refer to several fields of cooperation and arise along 4 different boundaries, of which the Spanish-Portuguese border is the most represented one with a total of 4 obstacles.
Going further, 7 are the Member States involved with a variety of structures that addressed the hurdles: 4 EGTCs, one Regional authority, one Province, one Municipality and one network of universities.
Below is a brief description of each obstacle.
Removal or simplification of the procedure to obtain the Car Circulation Guide for Cross-Border Workers
EGTC Galicia-Norte de Portugal
Crossing the Spanish-Portuguese border with a private car on a daily basis is complicated. Frontier workers whose cars are legally registered in Spain and who want to go to Portugal must hold a temporary admission permit which can only be obtained digitally through the portal of Finances of the Portuguese tax and customs authority. The portal is available only in Portuguese, making the process to obtain the certificate for non-Portuguese speakers complicated or even costly, as they would need to pay for external support to complete the procedures. In this sense, the requirement for a car Circulation Guide is a burden for frontier workers in the region.
The elimination of this obstacle would make cross-border employment more attractive and would favor the process of territorial and social integration not only in the cross-border region Galicia-North of Portugal, but along the whole Spanish-Portuguese border – where the solution could be replicated.
Elimination of barriers and 360º evaluation of the mobility of students from vulnerable groups in the higher education ecosystem of the GNP Euroregion
Centro de Estudos Eurorrexinais Galicia-Norte de Portugal
The Interregional Study Center Galicia-Portugal unites five different universities located at the Spanish-Portuguese border and one of its main aims is to promote the transboundary mobility of students.
The presence of uncoordinated internal university protocols poses an administrative issue to the mobility of students with special needs as different categories of disabilities and recognition of special needs apply on the two sides of the border.
Solving this issue would contribute to create a more inclusive inter-university cooperation and would enhance the interactions between the two countries on a theme of primary importance. A solution to this obstacle could be adapted to other university networks across different EU borders facing similar administrative incongruences.
Improvement of conditions for cross-border aerial forest fire control
Directorate-General For External Action. Junta De Extremadura
The management of emergency services to extinguish wildfires in the region of Extremadura (ES) and in the neighboring Portuguese territory is limited because of some administrative constraints,in spite of the numerous legal protocols. In particular, the Portuguese authorities do not recognize the Spanish certificate for air means operating companies and require the pilot and the crew to speak in Portuguese. This results in the impossibility for the Spanish planes to cross the border to help to put out the fires.
Overcoming the obstacle would facilitate the coordination between the two countries and would increase their capacity to respond to emergencies. As the problem applies also in other border regions of the same countries, the solution could be replicated along the whole Spanish-Portuguese border.
Minho River Nature 2000. Boosting Cross-Border Multi-level Governance
The EGTC River Minho would like to develop a plan to ensure the environmental protection of the river territory within the European network “Natura 2000”. However, incongruent national definitions of special protection areas in Spain and Portugal prevent the EGTC to fully implement a long term strategic plan.
The removal of this obstacle would allow the implementation of a set of actions to promote and disseminate the resources of the area, with particular emphasis on the implementation and promotion of a network of cross-border green routes across the river.
The solution could be replicable in other sections of the Portuguese-Spanish border and in other EU border territories involved in the Natura 2000 network.
Problem analysis and possible solutions concerning access to enclaves
Citizens residing in the 30 enclaves located in Dutch-Belgian territory of Baarle experience legal uncertainty on a daily basis as different legal frameworks meet in this very specific environment. In particular, their movements across the borders are limited because different provisions apply for temporary driving licenses or concerning the permits to transport livestock from one country to the other.
A clear solution to this issues would make the residents’ everyday life easier and would contribute to increase the overall attractiveness of the area.
Cross border obstacles on cross border transport and use of manure
Provincie West-Vlaanderen (on behalf of the Euregion Scheldemond)
The Euroregion Scheldemond at the border between Belgium and the Netherlands identified an obstacle concerning the transport and use of manure as an agricultural fertilizer.
Diverging national provisions and an outdated European legal framework prevent the transfer of the exceeding manure from the Belgian region of West Flanders to the neighboring Dutch region of Zeeland which, instead, faces a shortage of the same fertilizer.
A solution to this bottleneck would not only be a win-win situation for both sides but would also guarantee the implementation of a successful model of circular economy that can be replicated on other regions along the same border.
Tour guide practice and their activity on both sides of the Hungarian and Croatian border
MURA REGION EGTC
The creation of touristic guided tours across the Mura river, at the Hungarian – Croatian border, is prevented as the current provisions on touristic activities are either not-harmonised in the two countries or do not take in consideration the peculiarities of the cross-border dimension.
The removal of this obstacle would entail the increase of cross-border tourism with indirect consequences on the overall economic growth of the area and the solution could be replicated in other cross-border areas with high touristic attractiveness or in other border areas specifically crossed by rivers.
Analyisis of legislative borders in employment, especially in agricultural field
Gate to Europe EGTC
Farmers in the territory of the Gate to Europe EGTCs, at the Hungarian-Romanian border, face difficulties because diverging national provisions limit the trade of goods between the two sides of the boundary. Additional administrative problems, such as the lack of information on how to trade products in the neighboring country and unclear rules on taxation, prevent many workers to expand their business on both sides.
A solution to these obstacles would strengthen the cross-border economic dimension and would facilitate the interactions between workers from the two countries, not only in the territory of the Gate to Europe EGTC but along the whole national border.