EU border regions need more effective use of EU funds and improved cooperation among member states.

The European Parliament approved the resolution „EU border regions: living labs of European integration” prepared by the chair of the regional development committee Younous Omarjee (Left, France) with 522 votes against 49 and 11 abstentions on Thursday.

The resolution reacts to the European Commission communication of July 2021 entitled ‘EU border regions: living labs of European integration’. The European Union and its immediate neighbours in the European Free Trade Association have 40 internal land borders. Internal border regions cover 40 % of the EU’s territory and they account for 30 % of the EU’s population and produce almost one third of EU GDP.

The adopted text requires more effective use and better coordination of EU funds to better deal with the whole spectrum of challenges such as environmental, administrative, socio-economic and geographical the EU border regions are facing. In the resolution, MEPs highlight additional and news barriers which appeared during the pandemics and note the role of Brexit in disrupting situation in many border regions.

Improving transport and other services

MEPs call on deeper cooperation between member states authorities and note that border regions would benefit from a supranational instrument helping them to overcome actions of national authorities negatively affecting the Single Market. They stress the need for better coordination of public transportation and other cross-border services and urge the Commission and the EU governments to enforce rights of cross-border and frontier workers when it comes to their health and safety and employment conditions.

Awaiting new proposal

MEPs also note that most of the barriers among border regions are legal in nature and recall that in 2018 already the European Commission proposed the European Cross-Border Mechanism (ECBM) aiming to facilitate cross-border cooperation, which was blocked by the Council. They therefore call on the European Commission to amend the proposal in a way that would be acceptable to both the European Parliament and the Council.

Following the voted, the European Parliament rapporteur Younous Omarjee (Left, France) said: “The Parliament is reiterating, through this vote, its commitment to cooperation between European regions. Developing public services, facilitating mobility, promoting access to healthcare, developing the labour market, dealing with climate disasters… all these are challenges that call for common solutions. It is time for responsibility and we expect the Council to release the European cross-border mechanism. We are ready for it.”