The Carpathians Euro-Region perspectives

1. Administrative units

As a consequence of the peace treaties of Trianon all the countries of the Carpathian basin at present show a kind of anachronistic nationalism as the agreement severed natural regions of the past, cut in half organic communities and attached these units, unviable in themselves, to countries which are hostile to each other. The present paper aims to present those of the regional initiatives launched outside of Hungary's borders in the last few decades which have proved functional as well as the Euro-regions that concern our country. It is characteristic of Euro-regions that they do not have a local government or political power of their own, their activity falls in the range of competency of the local and regional authorities that constitute them, and they do not form a part of the official regional statistical system of the EU (NUTS). They also show a wide variety in terms of their structure. Some consist of administrative units of the same level (Carpathians Euro-Region), others comprise cities, towns and other units, like the Danube-Körös-Maros-Tisza Euro-region.

2. International cooperation

The Carpathians Euro-Region was established in 1993 in the form of an inter-governmental co-operation involving five countries: Hungary (Borsod-Abaúj-Zemplén, Hajdú-Bihar, Heves, Jász-Nagykun-Szolnok és Szabolcs-Szatmár-Bereg counties), Poland (Rzesow, Przemysl and Krosno provinces), Romania (Bihor/Bihar, Botosani, Maramures/Máramaros, Salaj/Szilágy, and Suceava counties), Slovakia (Kosice/Kassa and Presov/Eperjes districts) and the Ukraine (Lviv, Zakarpatia/Kárpátalja, Ivanofrankivsk, Csernivci districts). Its characteristics are a low standard of development and a peripheral position, as well as plurality in terms of language, religion and ethnicity.

Carpathian Euroregion
Carpathian Euroregion
Source: www.polskaturystyka.pl

In 1994, as a result of grassroots co-operation and the support of innovative local communal initiatives, a body called the Carpathians Foundation was established. Its two most important programmes are the award entitled 'Best Local Government Practice in the Carpathians Euro-Region' which is a form of recognising innovative practices of local governments, and the Integrated Regional and Community Development Programme, the aim of which is to rejuvenate the rural districts of the Carpathians. Danube-Körös-Maros-Tisza Euro-Region was set up in 1997 with the participation of Hungary (Bács-Kiskun, Békés, Csongrád and Jász-Nagykun-Szolnok counties), Romania (Temes, Arad, Hunyad and Krassó-Szörény counties) and Serbia (Voivodina Autonomous Region). Its aim is to widen co-operation between local communities and local governments in the fields of business, education, culture, science and sport. In contrast to the Carpathians Euro-Region, DKTM Euro-Region aims to fund itself from EU sources. The future of these two Euro-Regions is determined largely by the expansion of the EU and of the Schengen Agreement which is expected within a few years. The latter is likely to cause serious difficulties in keeping in contact within the regions.

While along the Eastern borders of Hungary we saw the emergence of Euro-Regions, along the Western frontiers regional initiatives take a different form (Alps-Adriatic Workshop, Jövorégió/Future Region, Centrope). Alps-Adriatic Workshop was set up in 1978 and by the 1990's came to include provinces from Northern Italy and Austria, Western counties of Hungary, the Western part of one-time Yugoslavia and even Bavaria. According to its Articles of Association its task was no more than 'to discuss and align affairs of the members in an informative and professional fashion.

Problems given special focus are the following: transport across the Alps, sea ports, energy production and transmission, agriculture, forestry, water management, tourism, environmental protection, regional landscape cultivation, preservation of cultural and holiday belts, regional landscaping, local development, cultural relations, connections between academic institutions.

3. Future region

Jövorégió/Future Region was established in 2002. It comprises Croatia, Slovenia, Austria's Burgenland, Karinthia and Steiermark provinces, the Hungarian counties of Gyor-Moson-Sopron, Vas, Zala, Somogy, Baranya and Tolna, Italian provinces of Friuli-Venezia-Giulia and Veneto and expresses the wish of the members to form a unified economic and social region with the process of European integration. The aim of the initiative is to establish better conditions for competition in the entire economic force field, but even in 2004 specific projects were still in the phase of planning.

Centrope was set up as a response to the challenge represented by the Future Region, in 2003, on the initiative of Vienna and it comprises Burgenland, Lower Austria, the regions of Brno and Bratislava, as well as the North-Western corner of Hungary. Its main aim is to offer an attractive environment for investors in a region with a rich industrial and research potential. They are to take the necessary steps before the end of 2005, thus creating a European Region of model value. In order to further this process they have launched a number of pilot projects in which at least three of the four partner regions need to participate Hungary.

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