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Home arrow newsitems arrow CLRAE President Van Staa to EuroFora: 4 years(2012-6) to boost EU Integration via TransBorder Groups

CLRAE President Van Staa to EuroFora: 4 years(2012-6) to boost EU Integration via TransBorder Groups

Written by ACM
Wednesday, 17 October 2012

*Strasbourg/CoE/Angelo Marcopolo/-
At the same moment that EU focuses on Economic and Political Integration, as well as a Wider Neighbourhood policy and International Cooperation with Strategic Partners, PanEuropean CoE's Congress of Local and Regional Authorities, a unique body interlinking a 48 Countries' wide area, from Portugal to Russia, and from Iceland to Cyprus, as well as from Sweden to Malta, and from England up to Azerbaidjan, etc., ambitions to launch, during the next 4 Years (2013-2016) comprehensive and systematic actions to boost TransBorder Cooperation and Integration, mainly through Regional but also other Multi-Levels groupings which can include also several key Cities, extending also to the Eastern and Southern 3rd Countries around Europe, from  Kazakstant until the South Mediterranean and Middle East Neighbouring Countries, his new, but experienced President, Dr. Herwig Van Staa, from Austria, replied in substance to "EuroFora"s questions at a Press Conference in  the CoE shortly after his landmark election.


Van Staa holds a rare, exceptionaly long, deep and top Experience of CoE's activites in Regional and Local level throughout all the 47 Member States of Strasbourg's PanEuropean Organization, as well as of the Brussels' based EU's Committee of Regions, the AER, etc., (and is the 1st Euro-Politician who succeeded to be Elected Twice as Head of a PanEuropean body with growing prestige, as the CLRAE, which includes also Russia), while also succesively  serving both as elected Governor and as President of the Assembly of Tyrol's Region in that strategically located, key area of Austria, which allies some exceptionaly beautiful Mountains, Rivers, Fields and other Natural landscapes, as well as certain outstanding Cultural and Historic Towns and villages, from famous Innsbruck up to lesser known Alpbach, where UNO Secretary Generals, and even International Space University's and other exceptional World dimension encounters have been often held, making "Local meet Global" in strikingly simple and natiural ways).

Among other interelated Priorities for 2012-2016, the New CLRAE President has already stressed that he intends to include also the Fight Against Corruption at Local/Regional level, as he told earlier to "EuroFora", (See relevant "EuroFora"'s NewsReport...).



"EuroFora" at first congratulated CLRAE's 2012-2016 President Van Staa and his two vice-Chairs, for having suceeded to represent not only most main Political Parties, as he had just observed himselmf from the outset, (Van Staa being a long-time Chairman of the ChristianDemocrats/EPP, Frecon being a leading Sociaist representative and Romanova a keynote Liberal), but also to be "GeoPolitically" well balanced and ambitious, spreading from France up to Ukraine, with Austria naturally at the centre...
 - Given that EU currently focuses on Economic and Political Integration closer to Citizens, i.e. even more Democratic, that Trans-Border Regional/Local groupings with more genuine Local/Regional Democracy can help develop, "EuroFora" asked President Van Staa how far and in which way he intends to realize his declared intention to act in this direction during the 4 Next Yearss of his Mandate (2012-2016).

The political and social will of the People involved to advance in this direction, but also the awareness of the technical and other problems which have to be overcome, was clearly illustrated, "f.ex. yesterday in Strasbourg, when Universitarians discussed here the ways to boost OberRhein (alias : "Superior Rhine") Transborder Regional grouping, between Strasbourg's Region Alsace, Germany's Länder of Baden Wurtemberg and Switzerland of Bale, etc., they were also searching practical ways to overcome certain obstacles such as the Linguistic one, "not only for the (indispensable) "People to People" relations, but also for Scientific cooperation, that is currently discussed" f.ex. at EU's core in Strasbourg's OberRhein (Superior Rhine) Euro-Region, between Alsace, Baden Wurtemberg and Bale, which are French, German and Swiss, respectively, F.ex., on the Linguistic issue, "EuroFora" has already proposed, since many years ago, to start systematically studying, in a Simplified way, all the 3 main languages : French, German and English, together, in a kind of "Trio", that really have many striking Similarities in the Vocabulary, which could be usefuly exploited in order to Simplify Language Learning by using some  useful Meta-Languages' Bridges between them, (f.ex. by publishing a Tri-Lingual "Wörterbuch"/Lexique regrouping together several "Families" of Words with similar roots in at least 2 or even all 3 concerned languages, etc).

+ In addition, "EuroFora" reminded the fact that there is also f.ex.  Austria with North Tyrol with Innsbruck, and Italy with South Tyrol at Brixen/Bressanone and Bolzano, etc., as well as Ukraine and Russia, and many other EU Countries, which are obviously concerned by the Trans-Border cooperation/integration prospects, including currently examined possibilited to extend also towards Kzakhstan etc. and South Mediterranean Countries, etc.


- In general, "it's very important to work closer together between all main Political Groups, because our (CLRAE's) main Issues are Democracy's development, (also) on Local and Regional level, that we have to strenthen during the forthcoming Years", after having "already done a lot of work on it" recently,  but also to contribute to face the "Economic and Financial Crisis, which hits not only in Europe but extends also Worldwide".  It's in this (both Economic and Democratic) wider Framewxork, that the CLRAE "want(s) to develop the Trans-Border Cooperations, like in Macro-Regions, etc., (which) are open not only for EU Members but also to other CoE's Members, i.e. several other Neighbouring Countries, Member". In this regard, we (CLRAE) wish to support Multi-Level Governance, and may be create a Charter for Multi--Level Governance", CLRAE's new President anounced from the outset.    





+ Replying in particular to "EuroFora"s Question, President Van Staa presented a Wide Spectrum of Important on-going or projected activities in this field throughout all Europe, already involving many Big and small CoE Member States, as well as various converging Organisations :

 - "There are efforts being made with regard to Macro-Regions, as, f.ex. in the Danube Strategy, which concerns both EU and Non-EU Member Countries, such as Germany, Austria, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, but also Moldova, Ukraine, and (EU) Candidate Countries as Serrbia, etc., which are all interested in the Danube Strategy, CLRAE's President noted at first.

+ "There are also efforts to create the (New) Macro-Region of the Alps, and this would concern Austria, Slovenia, Germany, Italy, France, Switzerland, Monaco and Lichtenstein, etc", Van Staa revealed.

+ "There are also "EuroRegions" such as of Tyrol in Austria, and the autonomous Region of South Tyrol in Italy (comp."EuroFora"s NewsReports from Brixen-Bressanone), which have already Offices in Brussels", as he pointed out.,

- But there are also several Other EGTCs, and f.ex. in Hungary, there is Trans-Border cooperation on Danube, with Slovakia, and also with Romania too, which has a lot of Hungarian a.o.Minorities, and that's important.
 -  On the choice of Legal Forms, "a Trans-Border Institution, which exists since 2006, is the European Cross-Border grouping, i.e. the EGTC, which includes Municipalities cooperating accross borders". Indeed, "we already have, as a (Legal) Form of TransFrontier cooperation between Regions the EGTC, i.e. EU's "European Group for TransFrontier Cooperation, that now, EU will open also for institutions which are not located in an EU Member State, and that will go "not only for Eastern but also for Central States which are not EU Members, like  Switzerland, Lichtenstein, etc, or Northern States, like Norway and Iceland", as well as "the Smaller ones, like Monaco, San Marino, or Lichtenhstein, while we (CLRAE) look forward at the Nzext half year (November 2012 - May 2013), where Andora will have CoE's rotating Chairmanship, which are very much interested in working with CLRAE", he pointed out.

+ Moreover, "there are also Other  kinds of European Groupings : F.ex. there is also the (UK Headquartered) Council of Municipalities and Towns, and let's not forget the Assembly of European Regions (Headquartered in Strasbourg) as well, and we (CLRAE) are working very closely witrh them : There are, in fact, cooperation Agreements between CLRAE and the AER, and we want to Build on them", the experienced Van Staa anounced.
>>> Naturally, all this goes also together with real Local and Regional Democracy, (CLRAE's main Mission, as he highlighted earlier), with regard to which, CLRAE's role has been Strengthened recently, under the guidance of its former President Keith Whitmore (from the Governing Conservatives-Liberals Coalition in the UK, former Head of the Liberal Group inside CLRAE), pointed out Van Staa in conclusion, (particularly after a landmark 2010 on the spot Investigation, and a March 2011 Report which found that Local and Regional Democracy in Turkey was threatened to be Destroyed particularly since the 2009 Mass Arrests and still continuing pre-Trial Detention of Thousands of recently Elected Mayors, Regional Counsillors and/or Region Presidents, experts, civil servants, etc. in the predominantly Kurdish regions of Turkey, which has now reached more than 3 Years in Jail, even without any Judgement)...
    + But Local Democracy, at least as prescribed by its CoE's Charter, which is the only Legally Binding instrument in that field to be already applicaable throughout all Europe and beyond, including Russia, Armenia, Azerbaidjan or Turkey, etc, "must be really applied on the spot", stressed in reply to another "EuroFora"s Question, later Today, the re-elected  Chairman of CLRAE's Chamber of Local authorities, experienced French representative, Jean-Claude Frecon, speaking anew to "EuroFora" later this afternoon.


    At any case, meanwhile, CoE's Charter for Local Democracy and Autonomy must become Equally Applicable in full, 100% of CoE's 47 Member States, (including those few Countries  who haven't yet ratified it, such as the smallest, f.ex. San Marino, Monaco, etc), but also throughout all the territories belonging to CoE Member States which had previously tabled certain Territorial Restrictions, Frecon added, (apparently referring to various thorny Political Issues around the old Continent...
    + Meanwhile, underlying even more the Topical importance of the issue raised by "EuroFora" to President Van Staa, and referring to CLRAE's "Priorities for the period 2012-2016",  the new Chairwome of its Chamber of Regions,  Natalya Romanova from Ukraine, stressed from the outset, at this same Press Conference, that, "as a (CLRAE's) Chamber of Regions, what we are going to get more interested into, is Trans-Boundary and Inter-Territorial  Cooperation Regional Cooperation".


    - In particular, "we (CLRAE's Chamber of Regions) will be studying Best Practices of Administrative Reforms that make it easier", Romanova anounced, "and it will be very important to ensure Good Synergy with EU Member States with those CoE's Countries which are not inside the EU" (such as Norway, Switzerland, Ukraine, Russia, Armenia, Azerbaidjan, Turkey, etc),


  + For that purpose it will be interesting for us (CLRAE) to cooperate with National Associations of Local and Regional Authorites, as a way of resolving some "Substantial Difficulties" in front of us during the Next 4 Years (2012-2016), Romanova concluded, (shortening her observations because of lack of Time, due to other obligations for all involved, during this particularly "busy" Day)...   



(NDLR : "DraftNews", as already sent, earlier, to "EuroFora"s Subscribers/Donors. A more accurate, full Final Version might be published asap).




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Speaking exclusively to "EuroFora", the New EU Parliament's President, former Polish Prime Minister, ChristianDemocrat/EPP MEP Jerzy Busek, welcomed proposals by EuroFora about innovative ways for EU Citizens to attend EU debates before important final decisions which affect people's lives.

- "We (EU Parliament) must be transparent", Buzek stressed from the outset.  "We must have clear answers also for delicate questions. If we don't touch a problem, you must know why, and when shall we decide in the nearest future".. "Because "we (EU) must think about Europeans, first of all : They don't understand well what is going on in the EU. So, it's our duty to inform them, to make discussions here more interesting".

"EuroFora" congratulated President Buzek for the anouncement he made, from the 1st day of his election in Strasbourg (on Tuesday, 14 July 2009), on his intention to make  transparent debates, exchanges of views, etc. before the final adoption of decisions in EU Parliament's Plenary, when issues are evolving inside Committees, (See earlier publication).

And we reminded, in this regard, that "EuroFora" has been advocating a project for EU Citizens' active involvement in pluralist EU debates before important EU decisions, since more than a Decade : 1997-2007+

- "Thank you. We (EU Parliament), indeed, have exciting debates", Buzek replied. But, in practice, "without a possibility for our Citizens to see them, not even by the Press, the Radio or TV, etc., because it is in Committees", he regreted.

- "But, they (i.e. Media, Citizens, etc) might interact with you, with MEPs, etc, May be we can imagine something", "EuroFora" proposed.

- "Yes, (but) it needs, a quite new idea", Buzed observed.

- "Why not through some innovations ?", "EuroFora" suggested.

- "Innovation ? That's it. Fantastic  New Information Technologies !", Buzek realized.

- "Precisely, "EuroFora" has such a project, since more than a Decade (1997-2009), to use new technologies for public debates before major EU decisions are taken", we reminded.

- "If you have such proposals, please come to us, come to us. We must" do something, agreed the new EU Parliamen's President.


    This fits with Buzek's main stance, expressed at EU Parliament's plenary earlier this week in Strasbourg, that the European Union must succeed to overcome a "Crisis of Trust" vis a vis EU Citizens. (See previous EuroFora publication).

    For that purpose, obviously information and debates are valuable, but purely instrumental, procedural means which can help focus on, and highlight a substantial content, attractive to EU Citizens, which needs to be determined by other, political, and not mediatic factors.  

    Buzek spoke about the urgent need to overcome the Global Economic Crisis,  the struggle for Human and Civic Rights, Democracy, etc., the Eastern Partnership, links with Russia, strategic partnership with USA and emerging countries, etc.

    But he also used (while speaking both to "EuroFora" and other Media) the expression : "The Europeans", for EU Citizens. This points right towards what several important EU leaders (including French President Sarkozy, German Chancellor Merkel, etc) have started to highlight particularly during the recent years : That there is a vital need, and an historic opportunity, for the development of a European Conscience, to stimulate e renaissance of a European Identity able to attract Popular support, for the EU to become a strong player in a Multopolar World : In other words, the revitalisation of a project for a "Political Europe".

    By a coincidence, this was indirectly but surely reminded, earlier in Strasbourg, by another ... Busek (this time with a "s") : 


    Speaking to more than 650 participants from CoE's member countries, at the conclusion of the 2009 Summer University of its Political Schools, Erhard Busek, (with an "s"), former vice-Chancellor of Austria and EU Coordinator for South-Eastern Europe, pointed at the current need to revitalize Europe's "Identity", forged by Greek philosophy and Roman Law, Christian values and Enlightment's ideas, etc. through the ages.     

- "We have almost the same name with Jerzy Buzek (EU Parliament's new President, who is a former Polish Prime Minister), because both our Families come ...from  the same village, located at the Heart of Europe, which was often shared between Poland, Germany and the Czech Republic. But my family emmigrated a long time ago to Austria, while Jerzy Buzek's family remained in Poland", explained f. vice-Chancellor Erhard Busek to "EuroFora".   

 An astonishingly concrete and simple example of European Integration from the grassroots : Starting by EU Citizens, i.e. those "Europeans", that EU Parliament's new President, Jerzy Buzek (this time with a "z"), wants to bring alongside MEP's decision-making proces, (according to "EuroFora"'s main idea : Comp. supra)...



2009 EU Elections were won by Parties against Technocracy and Turkey's controversial EU bid, while the 1999-2004 Majority Abstention trend decelerated. What should be done in 2009-2014 ?


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