10 years of the Euroregion Silesia

The Euroregion Silesia has existed for ten years. The first decade of its existence has strongly influenced its further development in the same way the first decade influences people´s lives. Having passed the first steps in the field of the Czech-Polish cross-border cooperation and having overcome "children's diseases" the Euroregion Silesia has grown and become stronger so that today it is a stable, well operating, and experienced Euroregion, an equal partner dealing with many Czech, Polish and European institutions. Moreover, its ten-year development has coincided with a period of many important European events, e.g. accession of the Czech Republic and Poland to the European Union in 2004; accession of both the countries to the Schengen Agreement in 2007; approval of the European regulation on European Grouping of Territorial Cooperation, which represents completely new entities in Europe and which opens new possibilities especially for Euroregions; systematic funding of Czech-Polish cross-border cooperation provided by the EU since 1999.

Present Euroregion Silesia accomplishes all necessary attributes of a Euroregion according to a definition of Association of European Border Regions: "Although the Euroregions are not equal regarding legal form and organisation, they share many common features: they are stable, their identity is separated from their members, they dispose of administrative, technical and financial sources, they dispose of internal decision-making authority." Organisation and work concerning cross-border cooperation also shows attributes typical of a Euroregion: activities are not a result of two independent border regions, but the Euroregion fulfils its function as a coordinator of cross-border cooperation concerning many fields. It uses its own sources (personnel, technical and financial) to support cross-border activities of other entities.

In November 2006 the Euroregion was awarded a certificate of merit by Association of European Border Regions for exceptional success concerning European cross-border cooperation. In 2007 the Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs awarded both the Czech and the Polish part of the Euroregion Silesia a silver medal of Jan Masaryk for long-lasting and active contribution to the development of the Czech-Polish cross-border cooperation.


Josef Byrtus, Consul General of the Czech Republic in Katowice, awarded representatives of the Euroregion Silesia recognition of Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic at a celebratory meeting held at the occasion of the CR national holiday in Silesian Vojvodship Office. Not only activities of both parts of the Euroregion, but also individual representatives were awarded for long-lasting personal contribution to the development of the Czech-Polish cross-border cooperation. From the right: the Euroregion Silesia founders Jan Mrázek and Andrzej Markowiak, long-time secretary Jana Novotná Galuszková, Consul General of the CR in Poland Josef Byrtus, Mayor of Kietrz and long-time member of top Euroregion authorities Józef Matela and Beata Stępień, director of the Primary School No. 1 in Racibórz.

he awards the Euroregion Silesia was given are not only a big challenge for further development, but also a commitment which must be fulfilled during the following decade. The Euroregion Silesia is expected to withstand the test not only from the point of view of official Czech, Polish and European institutions, but principally in public. Good living conditions, good mutual contact and understanding, effort to overcome or to suppress the obstacle of “a border” are a valid point of cross-border cooperation. And cross-border cooperation is raison d’?tre of the Euroregion Silesia.

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„The Czech and Poles face a challenge to concentrate their activities on development of natural contact between representatives of state administration, business, social organisations; and regions, districts and municipalities. Possibilities of such development are determined by support of relevant European institutions. Czech and Polish partners must take account of interests and regional development in respective areas, coordinate the cooperation, and execute common tasks at all levels of cooperation.

The border between the Czech Republic and Poland, currently an internal border of the EU, must be a unifying element in cross-border areas. Face to face with the EU policy of equalizing disproportions concerning region development it is necessary to elaborate a common development strategy in the border region of Poland and the Czech Republic and to follow it."

(Introduction of the Final Report of the 10th meeting of the Czech-Polish Intergovernmental Committee for Cross-border Cooperation held in Opava on 21 - 22 October 2004)

 
 
 
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