The COM(2017) 534 final points out that the „access to available and reliable information and problem-solving services on life or work on the other side of the border is vital”, especially when structural obstacles – such as diverging regulations or not harmonised administrative systems – hamper cross-border cooperation in fields of primary importance.
Under the III call for proposals of b-solutions, the Association of European Border Regions (AEBR) and the European Commission’s Border Focal Point at DG REGIO selected the first obstacle under the thematic area of “Information Services”. The advice case was submitted by the Svinesund Committee located at the Swedish-Norwegian border.
Below, you can find a short description of the obstacle.
Perceived border obstacles linked to wood construction – Sweden and Norway
The Svinesund Committee
In the Swedish-Norwegian border region between Oslo and Gothenburg different regulations concerning fire protection, moisture and water/sewing requirements hamper cross-border cooperation in the field of wood construction. In this context, it is particularly difficult for local entrepreneurs to obtain certain information on the rules that apply to their businesses across the border.
A solution to this legal obstacle would have a positive impact on the general economy of the area – where wood construction is a sector of primary importance - as it would increase the number of businesses and job opportunities in this field and it could be replicated in other border regions facing similar issues within the Nordic Council.
Collecting data and evidence at cross-border level might be problematic. Member States use different models or follow non-equivalent principles to classify them and, in some cases, their accessibility is limited because of internal legal constraints.
This is problematic when the comparison of the data in cross-border regions is essential to implement projects, to make evaluation on cross-border flows and, eventually, promote new policies.
Two of the Pilot Actions implemented in the course of the first call for proposals of b-solutions already implemented actions to harmonise different databases and systems of data collection existing on the different sides of the borders under analysis. The Pilot Actions were identified under the thematic area “Institutional cooperation” (as the field “Evidence and Data” was included within the thematic coverage of b-solutions only in 2019) and more details on them are available on the first compendium.
Coming to this year, under the III call for proposals, the Association of European Border Regions (AEBR) and the European Commission’s Border Focal Point at DG REGIO have selected two advice cases showing obstacles related to the impossibility to access cross-border data in the sectors of health and tourism.
The cases were submitted by a local authority and a European Grouping of Territorial Organisation (EGTC). They involve 4 Members States and 1 EFTA country for a total of three different borders.
A short description of the cases is available below.
Facilitating health data accessibility to initiate cross-border public policies
Conseil départemental du Haut-Rhin
In the Upper Rhine tri-national border area (FR-DE-CH), cross-border cooperation in the healthcare sector is hampered by the impossibility to access and manage medical data from the other sides of the borders. They are either unavailable, inaccessible because of legal constraints or even not comparable, as they follow different models and standards of categorization.
A solution to grant the local healthcare institutions access to the data from all the sides of the boundaries would significantly improve the management of the cross-border services provided in the region. The development of a joint system for data management could be adapted to other borders facing the same problem and specifically to those involving a non-EU Member State.
ZASNET-Meseta Ibérica Transboundary Tourist Observatory
The work of the Transboundary Tourist Observatory in EGTC ZASNET - at the border between Spain and Portugal - faces limitations because accessing statistical data in the field of tourism is very problematic. The data, indeed, are processed differently by the Spanish and Portuguese national statistical institutes, and these also use diverging statistical and geospatial models to collect information.
A solution to this obstacle would ensure a better monitoring of touristic flows and other tourism-related information, allowing for the development of new strategies or the implementation of projects to foster the touristic attractiveness of the cross-border area. Being the data accessibility a problem common to many borders, a solution could be beneficial to other cross-border structures in different Member States.