The Greater Region - A Space for Cross-border Cooperation in the Heart of Europe
…only 600 km from London, Berlin, Prague and Milan, and just 300 km away from Paris, Brussels, Rotterdam and Frankfurt – a territory shaped by the history and culture of 5 regions, 4 countries, and 3 languages.
The Greater Region lies at the crossroads of the rivers Rhine, Saar, Meuse and Moselle. It covers 65.401 km2 with more than 11.6 million inhabitants from the territories Lorraine in the French region Grand Est, Wallonia, the Federation Wallonia-Brussels and Ostbelgien in Belgium, Saarland and Rhineland-Palatinate in Germany as well as the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg.
The concept of the Greater Region has its origins in the intergovernmental commission set up by Germany and France in 1969. Two years later, the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg joined the commission, followed by the German federal states Saarland and Rhineland-Palatinate, the French region Lorraine as well as the Federation Wallonia-Brussels and the German-speaking Community of Belgium. Over the years the member countries established an institutional framework for cross-border cooperation. In 1995, the first Summit of the Executives of the Greater Region took place in Mondorf-les-Bains (LU). Since then, the cooperation partners have intensified their efforts to tackle common challenges in the areas of:
- Mobility and regional development
- Education and lifelong learning
- Economy and competitiveness
- Society and security
- Tourism and culture
- Environment and sustainability
The Greater Region offers attractive and multilingual working and living conditions for more than 11.6 million inhabitants and approximately 250,000 cross-border commuters per day – the highest number of cross-border commuters in Europe. The region is an economic powerhouse and a major hub for European research and innovation. It champions the idea of transnational cooperation and a plurality of nations living together in harmony.
Institutional Structure and Organisation
The Summit of the Greater Region lays down the strategic guidelines of the cooperation. The Summit is composed of the executives of the Greater Region’s member territories:
- the Prime Minister of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg
- the Minister President of Rhineland-Palatinate
- the Minister President of Saarland
- the Minister President of Wallonia
- the Minister President of the Federation Wallonia-Brussels
- the Minister President of the German-speaking Community of Belgium
- the Prefect of the region Grand Est
- the President of the Conseil régional of the region Grand Est
- the President of the Conseil départemental of the department Meurthe-et-Moselle
- the President of the Conseil départemental of the department Moselle
- the President of the Conseil départemental of the department Meuse
The presidency of the Summit is held in turn by each region for 24 months. Every presidency provides its own action programme.
The Committee of the Personal Representatives of Summit Executives manages and supervises the implementation of the Summit’s political agenda. It is assisted by the Summit Secretariat, the link between the Committee and its working groups where projects corresponding to the political agenda of the Committee are drafted and implemented at operative level.
The Summit Secretariat of the Greater Region, created in 2013, coordinates and supports the work of the Summit and its working groups. It is one of the Region’s major source of information and point of contact for building networks among important players in the Greater Region and other partners across Europe.
The Interregional Parliamentary Council and the Economic and Social Committee of the Greater Region are the two consultative bodies of the Greater Region. Their presidencies rotate with the presidency of the Summit.
The Interregional Parliamentary Council is composed of representatives of the parliamentary assemblies of the Greater Region’s members. Its aim is to further strengthen the economic, social, and cultural role of the Greater Region. Six commissions work on a broad range of topics and put forward recommendations to the Summit of the Greater Region.
The Economic and Social Committee of the Greater Region represents the interests and needs of employees and employers of the Greater Region. It is the only cross-border body in Europe where representatives from trade associations, social, and professional organisations are working together in four different working groups on a variety of topics.
One of the major challenges for the Greater Region is territorial observation. Three institutions are closely cooperating on this matter: The Greater Region’s Geographical Information system, the Interregional Labour Market Observatory and the network of the Statistical Offices of the Greater Region.
The cross-border program Interreg V A (2014-2020) as well as the European Regional Development Fund provide the framework for the implementation of projects in the individual areas of the Greater Region.
Living in the Greater Region
One of the main goals of cross-border cooperation in the Greater Region is a culture of mutual understanding and living together in harmony on a shared territory. The Greater Region operates as closely as possible to its citizens; all its activities focus on different day-to-day aspects and challenges of the people living and working in the region.
Education and learning
Living in the Greater Region means living in a multicultural and multilingual environment. Language skills, especially those of the neighbouring countries as well as intercultural expertise are essential for access to the cross-border labour market. Therefore, the Greater Region has established institutional partnerships between schools, universities, and businesses. In 2014, the Region launched the first biennial Education Day of the Greater Region; a platform and network for important actors in the field of education and learning.
The share of graduates with tertiary education is relatively higher in the Greater Region than in the rest of the European Union! The Greater Region contributes to the EU 20% mobility target by safeguarding and increasing the mobility of its students, professors, and researchers. Thanks to the Region’s mobility efforts, the University of the Greater Region pools research and teaching resources of six universities from four countries and offers a wide range of cross-border study programmes, double diplomas and joint degrees. This European network of academia and sciences consists of more than 135,000 students, 7,000 Ph.D. students, and more than 10,000 lecturers who contribute to its plurality, diversity, and excellence.
The Greater Region promotes an active labour market policy based on cross-border mobility for all job types and career stages. One of the pillars of professional mobility are cross-border training programmes. The Framework Agreement on Cross-border Vocational Training in the Greater Region ensures cross-border mobility within initial and continuing vocational training programmes.
The web-portal for cross-border vocational training in the Greater Region includes a large number of support and assistance tools for people seeking employment on the other side of the border. The Greater Region has more cross-border commuters than any other region in Europe (225,000). Fifty percent of the commuters in the Greater Region live in France and about seventy-five percent work in Luxembourg. Open borders and free movement of workers are part of the everyday life in the Greater Region. The Greater Region’s Interregional Labour Market Observatory collects and analyses data on the cross-border labour market and employment in the Greater Region.
Reducing obstacles and tackling challenges regarding cross-border mobility are a priority for the Greater Region. More and more people, and cross-border workers in particular, use several modes of transport to get to their workplace. Therefore, the Greater Region encourages and supports innovative projects on soft mobility that combine public transport with individual eco-mobility.
The working group Transport in the Greater Region enables cooperation between national and regional experts to develop solutions that facilitate and simplify commuting between the regions. The website of the Greater Region lists several online journey planners that provide real-time traffic information on all available modes of transport.
Environment and sustainability
The challenge of environmental protection transcends borders. The Greater Region bundles expertise and resources in several working groups on environmental topics. The working groups define common goals and create partnerships among member regions for example in the field of agriculture, forestry or biodiversity. The meta-cluster GREATER GREEN is the first European cross-border network for environmental technology in Europe.
Health and care
In order to provide excellent medical services and health care the member regions have established multiple partnerships between hospitals and emergency services. Citizens from individual regions can, for example, access medical services on the other side of the border without additional cost or insurance. Initiatives that save lives!
One element of preventive health care is to raise public awareness of health issues and building partnerships between professionals in the public health sector. Closer cooperation of experts in preventive health care could lay the foundations for one of the leading cross-border centres for medical research.
Demographic change is altering the Greater Region already today. Its effects will require intensified cooperation in the medical sector to guarantee availability and accessibility of specific health care information and mobility of health care services as well as to maintain a consistent training structure for health care professionals across the Region.
The number of elderly people requiring daily hospital and non-hospital care increases continuously. The Summit of the Greater Region is therefore developing specific home care programmes for the elderly.
Tourism and culture
Throughout history, the territories of the Greater Region have been shaped by numerous cultures and traditions, languages, and industries. The four countries and five regions offer a wide range of cultural activities, cuisine, and sightseeing for tourists and locals alike. Visitors can enjoy their journey while discovering new places: Cultural diversity, a common industrial and natural heritage as well as a great number of UNESCO world heritage sites leave nothing to be desired. The outstanding cultural programme includes theatre, music, dance, and artistic performances. The Tourism Marketing of the Greater Region helps travellers to find the best spots in the area and provides multilingual tour guides.
In 2007, Luxembourg and the Greater Region were designated European Capital of Culture by the European Union (EU) for a period of one calendar year during which Luxembourg and the Region organised a series of cultural events with pan-European focus. The year as Capital of Culture marked the beginning of the cultural association Espace culturel which promotes cross-border culture and arts projects.
The citizens of the Greater Region are at the heart of cross-border cooperation. Their commitment and ideas are essential for the prospering of the Greater Region. Several common projects encourage public participation such as Créajeune which promotes cultural cross-border cooperation among the younger generations, the Ecological Voluntary Service where young adults can increase their environmental and social awareness, and EUROP’age, a transnational association for seniors.
EGTC Summit Secretariat of the Greater Region
Please feel free to contact the Summit Secretariat for any additional information and questions about the Greater Region.
EGTC Summit Secretariat of the Greater Region
Haus der Großregion/Maison de la Grande Région
11 boulevard J.F. Kennedy
+352 247 80 159