The European Commission has today released a report, titled “EU Border Regions: Living labs of European integration”, giving an overview of the issues faced by cross-border regions and taking stock of the progress made over the last few years. It also spells out future developments, explaining how initiatives under the new 7-year EU budget can be used to stimulate the recovery of border areas. The report also highlights the need to step up cross-border cooperation on all fronts to make these regions more resilient and help them harness their potential.
The report assesses the progress achieved since the Commission released its 2017 Communication “Boosting Growth and Cohesion in EU Border Regions”. This Communication highlighted the obstacles that persist in these regions (in areas such as health, public transport, skills recognition, or legislation), and announced 10 actions that would help remove these obstacles. Since then, new lessons have been learnt (especially during the COVID-19 pandemic) and new initiatives have been implemented.
The new report gives an overview of these achievements, including the b-solutions initiative, which has helped public authorities identify the root causes of legal or administrative obstacles, and explore potential solutions. Several examples of good practices are recounted throughout the report, displaying specific cases and tangible achievements.
In addition, the report proposes to refocus actions around four clusters:
- Resilience through deeper institutional cooperation
- More and better cross-border public services
- Vibrant cross-border labour markets
- Border regions for the European Green Deal
For each of these four thematic areas, the report sets out what the status quo is, what the Commission has been doing to address the existing obstacles, and what it is planning on doing. Actions include, for example, extending the b-solutions initiative, evaluating the Directive on Patients’ Rights in Cross-Border Healthcare, raising awareness of the European Qualifications Framework, and developing initiatives under the revised Renewable Energy Directive to support more cross-border projects.
The report is closely linked to the fourth “Beyond Borders: Breakfast Debate”, which be organised online by the Border Focal Point Network on 28th September. Following successful Breakfast Debates on cross-border health, commuting and clean energy, the upcoming edition will bear the same title as the report (“EU Border Regions: Living labs of European integration”), and will address how several border regions have overcome obstacles for instance through the b-solutions initiative. It will also include the participation of officials from various EU institutions.
The full report is available here: