EBR hosts major European Conference

27 October 2010

A major conference, held on behalf of the Association of European Border Regions (AEBR), took place at the Fairways Hotel in Dundalk on the 21 and 22 October.

Attracting over 250 delegates from across Europe the two day event marked the first time in over twenty years that the annual conference has been held in Ireland and Northern Ireland.

Hosted by cross-border development body East Border Region (EBR), with assistance from the EU’s INTERREG IVA Programme, the main theme of the conference was ‘Territorial Cohesion in a Post-Crisis Scenario’.

Focusing on the common challenges that people living along a border area routinely face, such as access to public services, employment and education the event also highlighted how greater levels of EU regional co-operation can help to alleviate the worst effects of the recession.

As part of his first ever visit to Ireland the EU Commissioner for Regional Policy Johannes Hahn, delivered the key-note address on the second day of the conference.

Responsible for a regional development budget of approximately €350 billion, or 36% of the total EU budget, the Commissioner holds a highly significant position within the Commission.

Of this figure €192m is being made available to various cross-border projects, in Northern Ireland and the Border Region of Ireland from 2007-2013, as part of the European Regional Development fund’s INTERREG IVA Programme, managed by the Special EU Programmes Body.

Speaking at the event Karl-Heinz Lambertz, President of the AEBR said: “Border Regions are particilary affected by economic crisis. In these difficult times, overcoming disparities between regions through increased territorial cohesion is crucial. Cross-border co-operation contributes significantly to achieving this goal. The AEBR conference stressed the need to further strengthen cohesion policy and especially cross-border co-operation from 2014 onwards”.

During the conference a series of seminars and workshops were also held on a wide-range of issues including cross-border approaches to health; the promotion of tourism within Northern Ireland and Ireland; as well as the potential to enhance cross-border business co-operation.

The AEBR was formed in 1971 and since that time the organisation has emerged as the main forum for learning and the exchange of experience and best practice between border regions within the European Union.

The AEBR also plays an important role in influencing the European Commission in respect of cross border co-operation and other elements of EU policy.

Welcoming delegates to the conference, Councillor John Farrelly, Chairman of the East Border Region, said: “As Chairman of East Border Region I am thrilled to be hosting the 2010 AEBR Conference. This is an excellent opportunity to showcase our region to our European neighbours. We will endeavour to ensure that our visitors receive a positive image of our region thus insuring increased investment through return visitor numbers”.

A reception was held in Newry Town Hall following the first day of the conference at which Northern Ireland Minister Sammy Wilson MP, MLA addressed the delegates and acknowledged the wide-ranging benefits that greater levels of cross-border working have had on the region.

A further reception to mark the closure of the conference on the 22 October was held in Darver Castle, County Louth and was attended by Mairead McGuinness MEP.

Pictured above: Cllr John Farrelly Chairman of EBR, Commissioner Johannes Hahn EU Commissioner for Regional Policy and Mr Pat Colgan Chief Executive SEUPB

  • Monaghan
  • LCC
  • MCC
  • Newry, Mourne and Down District Council
  • Ards and North Down Borough Council
  • Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council