It is our firm belief that a vigorous and energetic Europe can only come about through the efforts of cross-border regions, because it is precisely here, in direct proximity to the border, that the pulse of Europe beats. Today, there are around 200 Euregions that are working towards this end. It will be inevitable that these regions be granted special rights that not only facilitate, but legalise such cross-border experiments. If not, many efforts in border regions will be nipped in the bud, making it even more difficult for initiators to get the local population on board for this voyage of development.
Furthermore, the various actors in these regions must become aware that cross-border participation is not exclusively about grants and subsidies. Indeed they should realise that there are countless cross-border issues which impact daily on people’s existence here. Providing advice and support to cross-border commuters or organising cross-border sporting and cultural events, for example, can improve the lives of people in cross-border regions considerably, without the need for significant financial resources having to be injected.
Another problem of continuous cross-border cooperation is, in our view, the fact that this is still dependent on the perceptions and ambitions of (too) few initiators. The danger of this is that ongoing development of cross-border collaboration might be handicapped if initiators become disillusioned by a lack of progress.
Before a proper and fully functioning “Europe of the Regions” can be said to exist, many problems still have to be ironed out. So: it’s time to get down to work! After all, who else, other than border residents, is to take care of these issues? Using common sense and necessary pragmatism, we are convinced that practical solutions to these everyday problems in our border region can ultimately be found.