Past and future presidencies
The Past and Future Presidencies of the EU Strategy for the Alpine Region
As it has been stated by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Slovenia Mr. Karl Erjavec at the launch conference of the EU Strategy of the Alpine region, Brdo pri Kranju, 25 January 2015:
“The EU Strategy for the Alpine Region will bring added value to the Alpine Convention, building on its established structure and extensive know-how and experience. The Strategy marks a stepping-stone on the way to the all-round development, growth, and prosperity of the participants.
The cooperation between Austria, France, Germany, Italy, Liechtenstein, Slovenia and Switzerland, their regions, local communities, international institutions, civil society, and non-governmental organizations may unlock limitless potential for each participating country or region and the Alpine area as a whole by facilitating further development, innovation, sustainable mobility, growth, and prosperity. The most promising European economic region, the Alpine area also has the responsibility to respond to the current challenges and issues facing Europe and the world – many of the solutions and answers will depend on its ability to cooperate closely.”
AUSTRIAN / principality of Liechtenstein PRESIDENCY 2025
Starting on 1st January 2025, Austria & the principality of Liechtenstein will co-assume the EUSALP presidency.
SLOVENIAN PRESIDENCY 2024
Starting on 1st January 2024, Slovenia holds the EUSALP Presidency until 31st December 2024.
SWISS PRESIDENCY 2023: working together for a sustainable Alpine Region
2023 was a defining year for the EUSALP: the objective is to concentrate on a few transversal topics and to strengthen its political relevance.
Content and organization were brought back closer to the expectations discussed in Bad Ragaz in 2012, where the Alpine Strategy was initiated. During the presidency year, the emphasis lied on the following three topics:
- Circular Economy
This is a first reduction of the diversity of topics in the EUSALP and the implicit goal of “less is more” pursued during the presidency. The cantons and the Confederation received support from the new Technical Secretariat - TSS.
This program combined the guest canton, theme, season, language, and cultural regions in the best possible way. The sequence created a positive arc of tension, pick up on the existing competences and bring all the contents together in the Annual Forum at the end of the presidency for a concluding event.
- 1st EB meeting 30 – 31 March 2023, Fribourg; conference on Circular Economy
- Extraordinary EB meeting 10-11 May 2023, Bern
- 2nd EB meeting 15 - 16 June 2023, Grison; conference on “Water 2022 – 2050”
- 3rd EB meeting 31 August - 1 September 2023, Ticino; conference on Transport/Mobility
- General Assembly & Annual Forum: Bad Ragaz (SG), 18 – 19 October 2023
ITALIAN PRESIDENCY 2022: "and thence we came forth to see the stars again" (Inferno XXXIV, v. 139).
The EUSALP Presidency 2022 fostered the sustainable development of the EUSALP area, thereby tackling the gap between peripheral and well connected (urban) areas.
The year 2022 was the Year of European Youth. Various geographical areas in the EUSALP are facing a variety of socio-economic challenges caused by over ageing and migratory movements of young people. This is why the EUSALP must increase its efforts to make the Alpine Region an attractive place to work and live for all generations but especially for young people.
Focusing on joint actions and continuing the work carried out by the previous Presidencies, the Italian EUSALP Presidency 2022, held by the Autonomous Provinces of Bolzano/Bozen and Trento, developed its program in six areas of action:
1. Promoting energy efficiency and the energy transition to path the way of the EUSALP towards carbon-neutrality
2. Fostering smart villages and sustainable local development
3. Empowering the EUSALP youth
4. Promote sustainable tourism and transport
5. Advance the cooperation on natural risk management and spatial planning
6. Strengthening the EUSALP governance and its embedding
FRENCH PRESIDENCY 2020 – 2021: working together for a sustainable Alpine Region
To work together for a greener Alpine Region and to ensure more sustainable development, France exercised its presidency in close consultation with its partners in the European Union Strategy for the Alpine Region (EUSALP). With all of these national and local actors, the French presidency endeavored to contribute to accelerating the ecological transition of the Alpine region, in order to fight against climate change.
The French Presidency was honored to have Nicolas Plain, scientist, and explorer, as its ambassador for the year. France’s goal for this EUSALP presidency, as part of the European Commission’s “Green New Deal”, was to understand how can human damage to this unique natural heritage be corrected?
With the support of action groups and all partners, the French presidency developed its program around seven priority and complementary areas of action.
- Conserve biodiversity and prevent natural risks
- Speeding up the energy transition of the alpine region
- Develop sustainable transport
- Develop year-round sustainable tourism
- Promote the consumption of locally sourced mountain products
- Encourage young people to participate in sustainable development of the Alps
- Improving governance
ITALIAN PRESIDENCY 2019: shaping future together
The Italian 2019 Presidency wished to underline the importance of a harmonious and balanced development of all the objectives set out in the Action Plan, from the first to the fourth, enhancing the work in progress by all the AGs entrusted with implementing the initiatives in progress, by properly cooperating with them and considering the priorities identified for 2019.
Therefore, Italy focused its presidency year on concrete issues at macro-regional level, such as the development of the competitiveness of the macro-region as a whole, primarily promoting the creation of new job opportunities in the sectors of “Green Economy” and innovative technologies, with particular attention to youth entrepreneurship.
Environment and innovative technologies, including automation and mechatronics, is therefore crucial in order to reconcile economic development with the protection of natural resources, to tackle “macro-regional» problems, such as air quality which is essential for health and quality of life in the whole macro-region.
At the same time, the reduction of the socio-economic gap between rural and urban areas, promoting a concrete alliance sealed by collaboration for innovation and protection that generates new business even in the internal, mountain and remote areas of the macro-region, is crucial.
The leading theme of the Presidency was therefore to develop the competitiveness of the macro-region, focusing on the green economy and innovation sectors, promoting the creation of new job opportunities in these sectors. The Alps are considered a perfect “living lab” for the green economy and innovation and, thanks to the macro-regional cooperation; they can become the basis for new models of sustainable development. The transition to new “green” jobs is increasingly becoming an opportunity for economic development. The leading theme for 2019 was launched in the political kickoff meeting held on 28 February/1 March February in Milan.
Focusing on joint actions and initiatives with a clearer macro-regional dimension and continuing the work developed by the Tyrolean Presidency, under the same motto: “shaping.future.togheter.” the challenges for the Italian Presidency were:
- To increase the political ownership of the Strategy, promoting meetings between the political leaders of the member institutions and strengthening the functional interaction between the General Assembly, the Executive Board and the AG,s.
- To improve effective coordination between the AGs and between them and the Executive Board, to make the AGs' work more effectively and consistently with the EUSALP Action Plan.
- To start a reflection at a high political-institutional level, on possible adaptations or modifications of the EUSALP Action Plan (adopted by the European Commission in June 2015), in order to adapt it to the evolving needs and to the political objectives of the States and Regions that belong to it.
- Lobbying all the actors involved, in coordination with the other macro-regional Strategies, in order to embed these Strategies into the legal framework of the Cohesion Policy 2021-2027
- To initiate a systematic exchange of experiences, information and data with other macro-regional Strategies and with other European Territorial Cooperation Programs (ETC) that can interact with the programming and activities of the Strategy.
- To promote relations with other networks of Regions and Cities in order to stimulate large-scale projects that include metropolitan areas in their interconnection with mountain and peripheral areas.
- To continue the commitment, already started by the previous Presidencies, to increasingly qualify the governance system of the Strategy and - in line with the provisions of Objective 4 of the Action Plan - to study further forms of involvement of territorial bodies and the civil society.
- To increase the historical, cultural, and educational dimension of the Alpine Macro-region, enhancing the history and the identity and cultural peculiarities of the Alpine area, as a strategic place of meeting, cooperation and development amongst peoples.
TYROLEAN PRESIDENCY 2018: shaping future together, in the interest of the Alps!
The Tyrolean EUSALP presidency had a strong focus on governance in the Alpine Region. The objective was to activate good governance and citizens’ participation, with a special focus to be placed on young people. The Tyrol particularly targeted awareness-building for the Strategy and related activities amongst:
- institutional actors
- citizens at the European, national, regional, and local levels
A good way to achieve this goal was to establish and strengthen cooperation and synergies between the EU Strategy for the Alpine Region and existing initiatives in the Alpine Region.
The Tyrolean presidency made a special effort to push forward and support the following key fields of activity:
- Labor market: Dual education in the Alpine Region and training for migrants and their integration in the labor market
- Mobility: Modal shift and EUSALP travel information platform
- Natural resources: Economical land-use and promotion of the production, processing, marketing and consumption of Alpine foodstuffs as a cultural heritage including the related value-added chains
- Natural hazards: Further development of integrated natural hazard management to establish Alpine-wide risk governance
- Energy: Development of a sustainable cross-border energy strategy for the Alpine Region based on EUSALP’s energy monitoring data and the establishment of a periodical EUSALP Energy Conference
BAVARIAN PRESIDENCY 2017
Bavaria has been a strong advocate for a European Alpine strategy since 2011 and has substantially contributed to the conceptual design of the Strategy.
From 1st January to 31st December 2017, Bavaria held the Presidency over the Implementation of the Strategy. The cornerstones of the Work Program for the Bavarian presidency over the EU Alpine Strategy were presented in the Representation of the Free State of Bavaria to the EU in Brussels on 29th November 2016 and then shaped into concrete measures during the course of several events like the 1st EUSALP Conference on Alpine Green Infrastructure and the 1st EUSALP Annual Forum.
The Bavarian presidency 2017 was guided by the motto: “EU Alpine Strategy – joint action for the benefit of the Region”. As the implementation of the Strategy was still in an early phase, the timely involvement and information of citizens and stakeholders was a stated aim of the Bavarian presidency. The development of the Strategy itself followed a “bottom-up” approach in Bavaria.
The Bavarian State Government has broadly discussed the ideas of municipalities, businesses, associations, non-governmental organizations and citizens, e.g. in the course of the Bavarian “Alpine Dialogues” (Alpine Dialogue I in Hohenaschau Castle on 21st May 2014 as well as Alpine Dialogue II in Irsee Monastery on 17th March 2016).
The dialogue with the relevant actors was continued during the Bavarian presidency. For example, during the Annual Forum, a large Citizens’ Forum was open to the public, with numerous opportunities for information and participation.
SWISS EUSALP PRESIDENCY 2023
Switzerland held the presidency of EUSALP for the first time in 2023. This year provided an opportunity to exchange on three key themes for the future of the Alps: circular economy, water and transport/mobility. The year was also marked by a strong presence in Brussels, the adoption of new action group workplan and the launch, with the Bad Ragaz declaration, of the process to revise the EUSALP action plan.
A shared Presidency
In keeping with its federalist tradition, Switzerland has shared the Presidency between the Confederation and its twenty-six cantons, all included in the EUSALP perimeter. In practice, the Presidency required the direct involvement and financial support of five cantons as hosts of the various thematic conferences and the Annual Forum and the Conference of Cantonal Governments as the overall coordinating body at the regional level, as well as three ministries – the Federal Office for Spatial Development ARE, the State Secretary for Economic Affairs SECO, and the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs FDFA – at the national level.
The various events of the Presidency have taken EUSALP players to Switzerland's all four linguistic regions.
The commitment of the Confederation and the cantons was underlined by the strong presence of their political representatives, senior civil servants, newcomers and EUSALP players throughout the year.
Switzerland is very interested in seeing political will strengthened again within the framework of EUSALP. The organisation of the General Assembly in Bad Ragaz is a signal in this direction, as it was there that political representatives from the Alpine regions signalledtheir desire to create EUSALP in 2012. Focusing on a few topics and clear structures and goals should help to tame the EUSALP’s breadth. "Less is more" was the motto of the Presidency.
The Alps, at the heart of Europe
The Swiss Presidency was keen to strengthen EUSALP's links with Europe and its regions.
Connections with the various bodies of the European Union are particularly crucial, which is why the closing event of the Swiss Presidency will be held in Brussels in November. A thematic conference on water was already held there in April involving the Friends of EUSALP, an informal group of the European Parliament.
The year 2023 also allowed exchanges with representatives of the three other macro-regional strategies, strengthening the mutual learning process.
Three key topics for the future of the Alps
At a time of climate and energy crises, when the Alps are more than ever faced with the need for change, the Swiss Presidency felt it was important to focus its activities on three key themes where increased cooperation between the Alpine regions can make a difference. Switzerland organised three thematic conferences for this purpose.
The first conference in March, held in Fribourg, brought together players from all over the Alps to discuss the circular economy, a key issue for regional development. The participants signed a declaration expressing their willingness to deepen cooperation.
Three months later, politicians and experts gathered in Scuol, in the heart of the Alps, to exchange on the water issue. Long considered to be Europe's water tower, the Alps now have to cope with increasingly frequent periods of water shortage while natural disasters, particularly those linked to water, are increasing.
Finally, it was in Lugano, not far from the southern exit of the Gotthard tunnel, that almost 150 Alpine transport and mobility players met. Fruitful discussions focused on how to boost modal shift and thus help meet the energy and climate challenges facing the Alps.
Strengthening the Strategy
EUSALP was set up less than ten years ago and has already seen a number of changes in how it operates, from creating a joint secretariat (TSS) to establishing a Youth Council, thanks to the perseverance of previous presidencies.
The year 2023 provided an opportunity to continue consolidating EUSALP.
The Interreg Alpine Space “Support EUSALP” project, which helps finance the TSS, the work of the action groups and the presidencies, began on January 1.
While the TSS still needs to be better integrated within the EUSALP governance system, a particular emphasis was placed on the action groups.
The EUSALP states and regions have, in particular, reviewed their composition, and the Executive Board has discussed and accepted their new work plans. These included four cross-cutting priorities:
- Promoting Digitalisation in the Alps.
- Accelerating the Energy Transition for a Carbon-Neutral Alpine Region.
- Promoting a Joint Water Management Transition.
- Boosting Circular Economy.
These work plans and cross-cutting priorities will guide the activities of the action groups until the end of 2025. Because of all the changes that have taken place since EUSALP was created, it is now time to review the document at the very basis of the strategy. This is why Switzerland has initiated, with the Bad Ragaz declaration, the revision of the EUSALP action plan. This process will continue under the Slovenian and Austro-Liechtenstein presidencies and should culminate in the adoption of a new action plan at the end of 2025.