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The Alpine Region as a macro-region?

An open discussion

An open discussion is needed on the nature of a EU strategy for the Alps. © CIPRA International

The EU already has a macro-region strategy for the Danube Region and the Baltic Sea. So why not also for the Alpine Region? At the beginning of July, the Arge Alp Working Group advocated a resolution calling for a "macro-region for the Alps".
The EU's Alpine Space Programme has sizeable funds at its disposal for drawing up proposals. The Alpine Convention is also looking into the idea. But what is this macro-region meant to be? And what would be its value added?
When the Lisbon Treaty came into force in 2009 territorial cohesion within the European Union became an important objective for the community of states. So the idea of grouping regions of Europe into macro-regions that face similar challenges and have similar potential seems a promising one. Indeed, a macro-region could provide solutions to problems which an individual country might be unable to tackle on its own. Like the Danube Region and the Baltic Sea Region, the Alps are a region with special conditions. But what an Alps macro-region might be and how such a joint venture might work still has to be defined. In autumn 2012 a working group of the Alpine Convention is planning to submit initial proposals to the Alpine states. The EU's Alpine Space Programme is even launching its own two-year project as its contribution to the macro-region idea.
Up for debate are topics and measures, financing and structures for co-operation between the various players. The talks are also to focus on where the macro-region should begin and where it should end. As the Arge Alp pointed out in its resolution, the macro-region as a functional space would not have any fixed borders. It needs to "take account of relations and interactions with the metropolitan areas that surround it". Werner Bätzing, professor for cultural geography at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg in Germany, warns that if a macro-region were also to include major cities such as Munich or Milan, they would clearly dominate the actual Alpine region with their vastly superior number of inhabitants, workplaces and votes. And CIPRA President Dominik Siegrist warned that an EU strategy for the Alps must not weaken the Alpine Convention. "For more than twenty years the Alpine states have been working with and for this treaty as an ambitious instrument aimed at a sustainable Alpine policy. A macro-region also demands a great deal of commitment and resources." If synergies were to be found, such a region could give the Alpine Convention new impetus.
For the Alps, a macro-region can be an opportunity. Stakeholders in the Alps face a number of questions when it comes to drawing up proposals on the nature of a EU strategy for the Alps. What are the problems and challenges faced by the Alps? And what sort of policy is needed? Brussels itself still does not have an Alpine policy per se and is procrastinating about ratifying all the protocols of the Alpine Convention. But a macro-region for the Alps would force the EU to address the region's particularities.
Source and additional information: www.cipra.org/de/alpmedia/news-de/4279 (de), www.cipra.org/de/alpmedia/positionen/110 (de), www.provinz.bz.it/lpa/285 (de), www.argealp.org/fileadmin/www.argealp.org (de)