Aquitaine and the Basque Country consolidates cross-border collaboration at the 2015 Euroregional Assembly
- In 2015, the Euroregion plans to improve cross-border mobility by means of extending the TER train to Irun, among other measures.
- The Euroregion will announce calls for grants for cross-border projects to the tune of 510,000 euros in 2015.
- The Lehendakari, who is the current chair of the Euroregion, stressed inter-territorial cooperation as a source for progress in both territories.
- The Lehendakari reiterated the Basque Government’s commitment to high-speed rail and urged the other stakeholders to continue to back this "strategic project for Europe".
The Aquitaine-Basque Country Euroregion, currently chaired by Lehendakari Iñigo Urkullu, the Basque Premier, held its 2015 Assembly at the Madariaga Tower in Busturia this morning.
The Basque Government’s Minister for Education, Linguistic Policy and Culture, Cristina Uriarte, its Minister for the Environment and Territorial Policy, Ana Oregi, and its General Secretary for External Action, Marian Elorza, were among the people taking part at this meeting, headed by the Lehendakari and President Rousset. The representatives of the Aquitaine Regional Council included Vice-President Francois Maitia, its Transport Minister, Mathieu Bergé, and its Minister for Employment and Economic Development, Eric Guilloteau. The Euroregion Director, Marc Moulin, also took part.
During the meeting, the Lehendakari stressed the value of cross-border collaboration and the Basque Government's "commitment" to upholding this European cooperation "as shared strategy and inter-territorial cooperation multiples our opportunities for progress”. He thus pointed out the importance of common projects, as a tool to obtain European funds for development.
The Lehendakari also explained the importance of continuing with the high-speed rail project along the Atlantic corridor as a European strategic approach and he stressed that the Basque Government is continuing to work in that area, complying with the commitments undertaken. The Lehendakari called on the other stakeholders and institutions involved to maintain their commitments to this infrastructure as it is a strategic project not only for the Basque Country and Aquitaine, but also for Europe. President Rousset also reiterated his support for continuing with this project given its importance and its strategic and priority nature for Europe.
During this morning’s meeting, as Lehendakari Iñigo Urkullu reported, the Euroregion Assembly approved the 2014 activity report, which included the signing of the Health Memorandum of Understanding, the setting up of the Euroregional Campus of Excellence between the UPV and Bordeaux University, the extending of the Bayonne-Hendaye bus route to Irun, improving the TER-Topo train connection with the new intermodal signalling system at Hendaye station, or the submission of the project to foster the mobility of the cross-border workers of the Euro-region to the AECT Platform of the European Committee of the Regions.
The Assembly also approved the 2015 Plan of Action based on the Euroregion Strategic Plan 2014-2020 approved in Hendaye last December. The plan of action envisages four core areas and 40 specific actions for interterritorial cooperation:
- Fostering Euroregional citizenship.
- Promoting the knowledge economy, innovation and competitiveness of companies.
- Sustainable territory.
- Open governance.
Some of the actions envisaged for 2015 are:
- Fostering linguistic know-how and the use of each other’s languages.
- Encouraging exchange programmes between schools in the Basque Country and Aquitaine, with a special emphasis on the use of Basque, the common language of both territories.
- Producing a multi-lingual guide (4 languages) for professionals in the hospitality, retail and tourist sectors.
- Promoting Donostia-San Sebastián European Capital of Culture 2016 in Aquitaine and organising joint projects related to this event.
- Setting up a Youth-Citizenship-Culture Commission that will periodically bring together the stakeholders of Aquitaine and the Basque Country.
- Fostering cross-border mobility of young people thanks to different funds (Erasmus +, Eures, etc.).
- Developing the “Euroregional Campus of Excellence” set up by the UPV and Bordeaux University in autumn 2014.
- Setting up a Euroregional Research-Innovation-Development Commission aimed at addressing the Euroregional priorities for projects (Horizon 2020 and CTE funding).
- Renewing its partnership with Bihartean and Orkestra focused on the setting up of cluster networks and competitiveness hubs in the framework of INTERC (Aquitaine-Basque Country interclustering).
- Approval of the Aquitaine-Basque Country Health Plan of Action.
- Reinforcing and bolstering relations between the two public employment services and setting up an information portal for cross-border professionals.
- Fostering cross-border cooperation regarding Vocation Training in response to the challenges of the dual qualifications, the linguistic training of teachers, etc., to achieve an integrated Euroregional policy in this sphere.
- Continuing to improve cross-border mobility and transport (extending the TER to Irun and bus).
- Setting up a portal to calculate transport routes on either side of the border and working towards interoperability with other ticket systems.
In 2015, the Euroregion will also launch two calls for projects with 450,000 euros and 60,000 euros for collaborations.