Catalonia - Andorra
This week the Secretary for Foreign and European Union Affairs, Roger Albinyana, met with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Government of Andorra, Gilbert Saboya prior the 33rd Plenary Council of the Pyrenees Labour Community. Both Albinyana and Saboya took the opportunity to exchange opinions on issues of common interest and welcomed the success of the Andorran Presidency of the Pyrenees Labour Community (PLC) as well as the cooperation received from the Government of Catalonia over the last two years.
Albinyana and Saboya highlighted the positive outcome of the renewal of the EU’s recognition of the PLC as the Managing Authority of the EU’s cross-border cooperation programme ‘Interreg VA France Andorra’ (POCTEFA). Furthermore, during the course of the meeting both representatives expressed their determination to foster cooperation in the framework of said programme. More specifically, the talks focused on common initiatives concerning infrastructure in the Alt Urgell and La Cerdanya. In this regard, the two parties also considered the Airport of La Seu d’Urgell to be a pillar for economic development in the area. Moreover, both representatives also addressed the current state of negotiations for Andorra’s Association Agreement with the European Union and its participation in the European internal market as well as other areas of political action.
33rd Plenary Council of the Pyrenees Labour Community (PLC)
During his visit to Andorra, Secretary Albinyana partook in the 33rd Plenary Council of the Pyrenees Labour Community (PLC) where he highlighted that the Catalan Government has made cross-border cooperation a priority in its Foreign Action, given that “it is a pillar of the European integration policy”. In representation of Catalonia, Albinyana also attended the PLC Presidents’ meeting in which a common declaration was approved to reaffirm cross-border cooperative action and foster development in the Pyrenees. In this regard, Albinyana noted “the Catalan Government joined the PLC in 1983, not only due to an interest for sound institutional bordering, but also to implement coordinated policies that benefit citizens and economic development”.
“Climate change is a priority for the PLC”, affirmed the Secretary, “and studies indicate that the Pyrenees will be one of the most affected areas by its impact” he continued. In this respect, Albinyana asserted the importance for the continuation of initiatives such as the Pyrenees Climate Change Observatory as well as the Catalan Government’s implication in the COP21 conference which, according to Albinyana, “the PLC will take part in due to the presence of Andorra”.
Additionally, Secretary Albinyana stressed that “the use of new cross-border infrastructures, and specially the TGV, must still be on the PLC’s agenda”. On this matter, Albinyana called upon infrastructure and service operators “to provide a reliable and stable transport between Catalonia and France”.
Finally, the Secretary referred to the institutional declaration adopted earlier this month by members of the Pyrenees – Mediterranean Euroregion urging EU Member states to address the refugee crisis in the Mediterranean: “We must raise our voices like the Pyrenees to avoid creating new obstacles when receiving persons who flee from war, as was the case here”. ‘Here’ being in reference to the refugees who crossed the Pyrenean border between 1936 and 1964, throughout the Second World War, the Spanish Civil War and the Algerian War, commemorated today with the Ribesaltes Memorial recently inaugurated by French Prime Minister Manuel Valls.
The Pyrenees Labour Community (PLC)
The CTP was set up in 1983 under the auspices of the Council of Europe, aimed at developing a cross-border cooperation mechanism in the Pyrenees, similar to other existing mechanisms in Europe. In 2005, the CTP created a Consortium, a legal entity governed by Spanish public law, in order to foster participation in the EU Funding Programme. The CTP includes Catalonia, Aragon, Navarra, the Basque Country, Andorra and the French regions of Aquitaine, Midi-Pyrenees and Languedoc-Roussillon. During the session held today, Andorra transferred the PLC Presidency to the region of Aquitaine.
The CTP’s main objective is to contribute to the social and economic development of the Pyrenees. It serves as a meeting point to exchange ideas and to resolve common challenges in the fields of Transport, Education, Research, Cultural Heritage and Sustainable Development, among others. CTP partners meet in different commissions to exchange experiences and find new innovative solutions. The CTP acts as the Managing Authority of the EU Cross-border Cooperation Programme ‘Interreg V-A Spain France Andorra’ (POCTEFA).