Limited attention for cross-border policy in Limburg coalition agreements
Research Stichting Geen Grens: New municipal coalitions in Limburg often overlook foreign affairs
The newly appointed municipal authorities in Limburg are aware that their municipality has foreign borders, but many coalitions do not take this into account in their policy plans. This concludes the Stichting Geen Grens (No Border Foundation) after comparing the 30 new coalition agreements in Limburg.
The new coalition in Maastricht has the best consideration for the municipal's neighbouring border. "In its coalition agreement, Maastricht takes impressive responsibility for the Euroregional approach of the South-Limburg area as a whole," says Geen Grens-Secretary Ger Essers. The newly appointed municipal council says - rightly so - that the prosperity of the entire (Eu)region is in the interest of all of us. Together, the cities and the province are playing a cross-border role as pioneers, in the vision of the Maastricht coalition. Landgraaf, Heerlen, Venlo and Gennep have also gained coalitions with considerable attention for cooperation with Belgian and German partners.
But Limburg municipalities such as Echt-Susteren and Sittard-Geleen, which share borders with both Belgium and Germany, have a new administration with a disappointing lack of euregional plans. The municipal elections of March 2018 were not used by many new colleges of B&W to look beyond the borders of the province. In this case, Vaals, the three-country municipality in Limburg, does a better job. Cross-border environmental issues such as the Tihange nuclear reactor and Plombières zinc mine plans are high on the agenda here.
Plans of the new coalitions with a foreign focus are mainly economic in nature. Chairman Fernand Jadoul of Stichting Geen Grens: "It would probably be worth paying more attention to socio-cultural cooperation across the border. Also, don't forget how important neighbouring language education is, such as French and German". The Foundation also makes recommendations in its report for a better organisation of international cooperation in the socio-economic and administrative field.
Six municipalities state in their reactions to the report by Geen Grens that their cross-border policy had already been established for the long term. Therefore, no new plans are mentioned in the coalition agreements of Meerssen, Vaals, Sittard-Geleen, Kerkrade, Venlo and Eijsden-Margraten, which recently concluded a letter of intent for cooperation with Clervaux.
The three reclassification municipalities in which no elections were held in March 2018 - Schinnen, Onderbanken and Nuth - were not included in the study.
The complete analysis of the Limburg coalition agreements can be consulted via the link below:
Grenseffectrapportage coalitieakkoorden Limburgse gemeenten 2018
Stichting Geen Grens
Stichting Geen Grens (No Border Foundation) aims to deepen and expand cross-border cooperation in the Meuse-Rhine Euroregion, in every possible way, to remove barriers between citizens and to build bridges between citizens and governments.
Press release Stichting Geen Grens