Association of European Border regions (AEBR)

Association of European Border regions (AEBR) - logo Founded on 17-18 June 1971 in the territory of EUREGIO (Anholt Castle, district of Borken, Westfalia), the AEBR promotes Cross-Border Cooperation (CBC) and its added value to the European integration process.

AEBR is the only Europe-wide organisation representing border and cross-border (CB) regions as well as the oldest regional association, and has as its aims:

  • to make their particular problems, opportunities, tasks and projects intelligible;
  • to represent their overall interests towards national and international parliaments, other authorities and institutions to initiate, support and coordinate their cooperation throughout Europe;
  • to exchange experiences and information to formulate and coordinate common interests from the various problems and opportunities of border regions, and to offer solutions;
  • to promote CBC structures, projects and programmes; 
  • to assist in the preparation of CBC events and other activities.

 

STRUCTURES, WORKING METHODS, LANGUAGES

The organs of AEBR are: General Assembly, Executive Committee, Secretary General, Advisory Committee and Task Forces.

 The GENERAL ASSEMBLY is the highest organ. Functions: election of the president, the executive committee, admission and exclusion of members, determination of contribution fees, etc.

The EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE is elected for 2 years. It includes: the president, at least seven vice-presidents, the treasurer and at least 20 members representing border and cross-border regions, taking into account the regional balance. The tasks of the Executive Committee are the passing of basic statements of AEBR, collaboration with European and national institutions, organizations and societies, appointment of the Secretary General.

The PRESIDENT is the most senior AEBR representative and represents it externally. He has the right to take decisions, in agreement with the SECRETARY GENERAL, who has proxy and is authorized to represent.

AEBR organizes Task Forces and Working Groups on different issues of interest for European border and cross-border regions to which belong representatives of European institutions and political committees, associations and society-relevant groups with an advisory role.

A particular "ADVISORY COMMITTEE FOR CROSS-BORDER CO-OPERATION" consisting of scientific representatives from all over Europe has the role to advise AEBR in all questions of cross-border co-operation and to put forward solution proposals.

Working languages predominantly are German, English, French, Polish, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Russian and, if necessary, further languages of member regions.

MEMBERS’ STRUCTURE AND PARTNERSHIP

By the beginning of 2016 the AEBR has 80 members representing most European border areas. They are both regional governments from border areas or Euroregions and other cross-border structures. After a high increase in the early 1990’s in the course of the political upheaval in Central and Eastern Europe, the number of members remained quite steady, with a permanent growth of 2-3 members per year until the emergence of the effects of the crisis in many regional governments and cross-border structures, particularly in the Southern part of Europe (namely cuts in expenditure and staff). Nevertheless, a slight decrease due to the crisis, and the lack of capacities in many active members, unable to fulfil their compromises with the Association, have been counteracted by a strengthening of many members’ involvement and commitment, as well as a growing participation of the AEBR in projects, studies and activities organized by or in cooperation with other associations, networks, platforms and international organizations.

The size of AEBR members differs from strong regional governments and wide CBC structures in complex border regions, to smaller agencies to promote CBC amongst local actors. Furthermore, large-area cooperation structures as the Working Communities of the Alps, the Pyrenees or the Carpathian Euroregion include as members border regions from several states. The Nordic Council of Ministers has been a very active member and promoter of CBC for a long time, being a driven force in very dynamic Scandinavian and Baltic CBC scenarios. Now we are following very carefully the process in many of these large areas, where a shift towards a “macro-regional” approach is taking place. The challenge is keeping cross-border particularities in the macro-regional agenda, where very powerful players have a main say. The membership structure of the AEBR reveals quite a balanced ratio of border / cross-border regions in both the “old“ EU and the new member states, thought there has not been a strong involvement of new created EGTCs (European Groupings of Territorial Cooperation). In any case, it wasn’t our intention to promote EGTCs with the sole intention of attracting them as members of the Association. They are new ways for Cross-Border Cooperation (CBC) and we have supported since the eighties and have lobbied for decades to have such a legal instrument. We are committed to advocate for their development and sustainability towards European institutions, and particularly through our collaboration with the EGTC Platform of the Committee of the Regions. This raises the issue of the character of the Association, lobbying in favour of ALL CBC structures and institutions, be they members of the AEBR or not.

Despite its main focus on the European Union, the AEBR has kept a strong position to extend its operations across the new EU external borders, without losing our sight to the EU. In fact, we are following the trends and recommendations of EU institutions and other international partners, extending the knowledge and practice of EU Cohesion Policy in general, and Territorial Cooperation in particular, with our corporate interest in promoting CBC. Despite of the difficulties due to border disputes, and despite of open crises, such as the current situation in Ukraine, there is a strong movement to strengthen CBC in these countries, both at regional and national levels. In fact, during the Ukrainian crisis there is a growing activity of some Ukrainian euro-regions. An ongoing process is aimed to promote civil society participation and dialogue with local and regional authorities using the model of euro-regions. These are perfect fora for different groups of society to meet and discuss within their region and with their neighbours about their common difficulties and expectations.

Similar concepts are being developed in the Balkans, in the Caucasus, in the Arctic, in the city of Jerusalem, and as far as in the American continent, Africa and Asia. The exchange between experienced members of the AEBR in Western Europe and some young members from the Russian Federation, Ukraine and other neighbouring states outside the European Union give the AEBR a strong impetus. In fact, AEBR 40 anniversary was commemorated with a Forum at the EU Representation in Moscow and the General Assembly and Annual Conference 2011 was very well organized in Kursk (Euroregion Yaroslavna, Russian Federation), followed by a study visit in the sister Ukrainian region of Sumy. These Euroregions plan to work as a stronger network, following the model of the German Grouping in the AEBR or the Polish Alliance of Euroregions, and a similar vision is being explored in the Balkans.

Members of the Association of European Border Regions can be:

As full members with the right to vote:

  • European border and cross-border regions in member states of the EU or the Council of Europe.
  • Full members can also be large-sized co-operation structures of border regions within several countries.

As members without the right to vote:

  • Members with observer status, in process to define their membership.
  • Associated members keep their relationship with the AEBR under special circumstances.
  • Honorary members must have won special recognition for AEBR.

As advisory members without the right to vote:

Persons, associations, institutions and other organisations working in the field of cross-border co-operation.

 

Contact information:
Association of European Border Regions (AEBR)
-Secretariat General -
Enscheder Str. 362
D-48599 Gronau
Phone: +49 (0) 2562 - 702 19
Telefax: +49 (0) 2562 - 702 59
Website: www.aebr.eu