Borderland Networks

STRASBOURG/GERONA/BOLZANO | | frankreichspanienitalien

STRASBOURG/GERONA/BOLZANO (Own report) - Several German federal states and municipalities are using a new EU legal instrument to promote a fusion with German-speaking regions of neighboring western nations. That instrument (the European cross-border cooperation groupings - EGCC) allows regional authorities of various nations to consolidate into common administrative structures, enjoying a large measure of autonomy. With the help of such an EGCC, the greater Strasbourg urban community fused a few weeks ago with a German county. Saarland would like to fuse with Luxemburg to form an EGCC, North Rhine-Westphalia is courting the German-speaking regions of Belgium. An internet journal of EGCC Strasbourg-Ortenau proponents declared that at the Spanish-French border the "reunification of Catalonia" has been achieved in an EGCC after being "separated" for 350 years. Other EGCCs are fusing Hungarian-speaking Slovak residential areas that Budapest would like to influence, to Hungarian municipalities. This is how numerous EGCCs are promoting ethnic structures and in the long run, an ethnic oriented Europe.

From Eurodistrict to EGCC

The creation of the European Cross Border Coordination Grouping (EGCC) with German participation was completed last month. The French greater Strasbourg urban community (Communauté Urbaine de Strasbourg - CUS) and the German Ortenau County seek to strengthen their cooperation using this new instrument. The larger framework is the already existent Eurodistrict Strasbourg-Ortenau, which had been announced in a German-French government declaration at the beginning of 2003 and established in 2005. Even the eurodistrict had already set the objective on initiating close French-German cross-border cooperation between the regional administrations and thereby phasing out the function of borders. Legal problems have proved an obstacle to the systematic development of this project.

Legal and Contractual Competence

Those involved hope to make progress through the new EGCC, an instrument that allows, for the first time, regional administrations of various nations - for example the greater Strasbourg urban community of France and the German county of Ortenau - to create cooperation structures with their own independent legal personalities. These cooperation structures have a legal and contractual competence and can acquire and sell assets as well as hire personnel. They can, for example, administer establishments in the transportation or health service sectors and even become competitors of the national administrations. Concerned about a loss of competence and supervisory powers, that accompany the establishment of EGCCs, German regional governments for awhile had resisted the creation of this new instrument, which had been approved by the EU Council and the Parliament in June 2006 and took effect with a model cross-border French-Belgian project in January 2008. After being given assurances that, in the Strasbourg-Ortenau EGCC project,[1] the German side would be amply taken into consideration a German regional administration is for the first time participating in the new cooperation.

"Catalans of all Nations, Unite!"

But this cross-border fusion of regional administrations, claiming to overcome the insistence on borders and old nationalisms, opens a gateway to new ethnic nationalisms. An internet article in support of the founding of the Strasbourg-Ortenau EGCC and vigorously supporting cross-border cooperation provides a vivid example. The article, which appeared at the end of 2009, under the title "Catalans of all nations, Unite!" deals with the "Catalan borderland" eurodistrict,[2] linking Spain's Catalan-speaking region (the Gerona area) to France's in the vicinity of Perpignan. The article also deals with the wider, Pyrénées-Mediteranée euroregion. The EGCC that had been established there, facilitated the consolidation of the "Catalan borderlands" within the eurodistrict, for example to permit a "harmonization of taxation" for "Catalans on both sides of the national borders" or even the standardization of the administrations.[3]

"Catalonia's Reunification"

The full significance of these statements can be seen when considering the reinforcement of Catalan nationalism. In Northeastern Spain, where the Catalan-speaking population enjoys special rights, Spanish-speaking inhabitants, who do not have a command of the Catalan dialect, have been discriminated against for some time - in some cases, even seriously. (german-foreign-policy.com reported.[4]) Efforts toward the secession of Catalan-speaking regions of Spain and the formation - together with the Catalan-speaking regions of France - of a Catalan-speaking nation are intensifying and drawing international attention.[5] This new nationalism, which threatens to destroy the existing nations, as can be seen in the case of Yugoslavia, has received a boost with the new EGCC. According to the article from the EGCC Strasbourg-Ortenau supporters, in the "Catalan Borderland" eurodistrict and the EGCC that is part of it, entities are "growing together that belong together". They write that "northern Catalonia was separated from the south by the Pyrenees Peace Accord in 1659." At last in 2009, it "came to a reunification, at least at the regional local level."[6]

Greater Hungary, Greater Flanders

In fact, the majority of the currently existing and some of the planned EGCCs are directly connected to various ethnic nationalisms. One of the first EGCCs fused the Hungarian city of Esztergom to the Slovakian city Štúrovo. Štúrovo is in the region of Slovakia that had been part of Hungary before the Paris Peace Treaties and to which Hungarian nationalists are staking claims today. Approximately two-thirds of Štúrovo's population speak Hungarian, as their mother language, and are counted as among the "Hungarians abroad," in whose behalf Budapest claims a special "protective role."[7] Two other EGCCs unite parts of Belgium's Flanders region with areas of France ("French Flanders"), to which some Flemish nationalists, are still laying claim.[8]

One Tirol

The Austrian state of Tirol ("North"/"East Tirol") seeks to found an EGCC with the Italian provinces Bolzano-Alto Adige ("South Tirol") and Trento (Welschtirol). As in other cases, the EGCC cooperation, agreed on in October 2009, by the Austrian regional state and the two Italian provinces is based on already existing cooperation models, while enhancing the authority to take action. For the first time since 1918, the former Habsburg Crown Tirol has, with the founding of the local EGCC, regained its own legal personality. Already in the regional parliaments of the participating entities, there is talk of forming their own "government".[9]

Alsace, Luxemburg, German-Speaking Belgium

Following the founding of the EGCC Strasbourg-Ortenau, uniting a portion of Alsace to a German county, the German Saarland and North Rhine-Westphalia regions are also pushing the foundation of EGCCs. Saarland is seeking to form cooperation with Luxemburg; North Rhine-Westphalia is supporting the Aachen "city region" in its efforts to cooperate with Parkstad Limburg in the Netherlands. The German-speaking community of Belgium, with about 70,000 German-speaking Belgians is also to be involved. The name has already been chosen for this northernmost EGCC on the western border of Germany, which would link Alsace, Luxemburg, as well as the German-speaking areas of Belgium to German regional administrations. The EGCC that would stretch out from Aachen would have the name "EGCC Charlemagne," which draws upon the traditional image of German imperial propaganda.[10]

[1] Therefore the EGCC, which is being founded along the lines of French law, will have an administration in Kehl, Germany.
[2] As was the German translation used in the Article. Officially the eurodistrict is the "Eurodistrict de l'Espace Catalan Transfrontalier".
[3] Katalanen aller Länder, vereinigt euch! 2-ufer.com 22.12.2009. The internet journal "2-Ufer - 2 Rives" claims to enjoy support also from a parliamentarian of the German national parliament and the director of the German-French Institute.
[4] see also Wie ein Staat and The German Ethnic Model (IV)
[5] see also Zukunft als Volk, Language Struggle, Ethnic Europe and The German Ethnic Model (IV)
[6] Katalanen aller Länder, vereinigt euch! 2-ufer.com 22.12.2009
[7] see also The German Ethnic Model (I), Ethnic Loyalty and Lebensraum Karpatenbecken
[8] Tens of thousands of the inhabitants of the French Département du Nord in the region of Pas de Calais, speak a Flemish dialect. Their area of residence is claimed by Flemish (and greater Netherlands) nationalists as part of Flanders (or the Greater Netherlands).
[9] Dreier-Landtag - eine Regierung für die Euregio; www.provinz.bz.it 29.10.2009. See also The German Ethnic Model (III)
[10] see also Bauhaus Europa and Hintergrundbericht: Der Aachener Karlspreis