On Friday 10 December, we hosted an online event to present five new b-solutions publications on 90 obstacles collected and solutions.
Promoted by REGIO and managed by AEBR, b-solutions aims to find solutions to legal and administrative obstacles that still hinder cross-border cooperation across EU internal land border regions. The five booklets are aimed at helping stakeholders learn about the different types of administrative and legal obstacles these regions face, and potential solutions to these obstacles. Acting as additions to the compendium and annex published in 2020 these booklets consist of:
- A story-telling type of publication shedding lights on the obstacles that European citizens face in border regions;
- A new compendium offering insights on the 47 cases selected and analysed by legal experts to suggest viable solutions;
- 3 thematic publications with a deeper analysis of causes of the obstacles and solutions in three fields: Education and Employment, Public Services and the implementation of the Green Deal.
Our launch event brought together b-solutions participants and experts involved in creating the booklets to celebrate and discuss these publications. Slawomir Tokarski, Director for the European Territorial Cooperation, Macro-regions, Interreg and Programmes Implementation I (DG REGIO) emphasised the importance of this initiative, both in terms of specific border regions and in a broader context: this initiative makes the imperfections of the Single Market, and European Integration more visible, and therefore enables us to address them and progress forward. Tokarski was followed by Karl-Heinz Lambertz, President of AEBR who shared various insights that have been gained, such as the fact that solutions can be situated on the European, National, Regional or local level, and that for success all these levels must be engaged in the need to address cross-border obstacles.
Following this, Annika Daisley presented one of the case studies in the storytelling booklet: the Svinesund Committee’s work to integrate the construction market between Sweden and Norway. With the green sector aim of increasing the use of wood in construction their participation in b-solutions helped identify the obstacles and left them with a comprehensive workplan for moving forward. Gyula Ocskay, secretary general at the Central European Service for Cross-Border Initiatives (CESCI), who offered legal expertise on a range of diverse cases, then shared some of the key insights he took away from his involvement with different projects, such as the lack of communication between authorities both within the same country and across borders which is a crucial issue and one that b-solutions is helping to address.
Giulia Brustia, Project Officer at AEBR spoke of the difficulty that can be found in communicating about cross-border cooperation because the obstacles are often extremely technical. Ms Brustia and Cathrin Cordes, legal expert at AEBR, interviewed then two of the copywriters involved in the preparation of the publications, Dorothee Fischer, CEO of Legado Sharpe and Fischer and Caitlin Boucher, International Development Cooperation and Spanish-English Translation Specialist. Sharing anecdotes from their involvement with the project, they talked about the bottom-up desire to cooperate across borders that they encountered in their work. This enthusiasm for cooperation lies at the heart of the b-solutions initiative, it can be felt in this event, and it is a message that policymakers must remain conscious of.
If you could not join us for this event or if you would like to watch it again, the recording is available here: https://www.facebook.com/AEBR.AGEG.ARFE/videos/920164818612640/