Grasshopper no 1, Winter '93
The bordering regions' joint investments may be financially assisted by the European Community funds, provided that the detailed action plans are presented and the cooperation is organized by joint institutions. Only after they are approved by the EC Commission, they may be granted financial aid and a Euroregion status.
On February 14th, 1993 in Debrechin, Hungary, the foreign ministers of Poland, Ukraine and Hungary and the foreign ministry representatives from Slovakia signed an agreement on the creation of the Eastern Carpatian Euroregion. The agreement allows for a greater degree of cooperation in the field of tourism, culture and economies. Recently, Rumania also joined the Euroregion project with an observer status.
The core scheme revolves around the opening up of new border points and modernizing the existing ones. Euroregion projects also includes hotel, shop and currency exchange office development. Road network development and telecommunication improvements were to receive priority. Business schools are planned to be established. a support for the agricultural industry was discussed.
A day after the Debrechin declaration, polish deputy Ryszard Czarnecki (ZChN, Christian-National Union) said that his party, then a member of the government coalition, opposed the idea of euroregions. He believed that such supranational organizations might lead to a unification of Europe and cause countries to lose their national and cultural identity.
It seems that Mr. Czarnecki's fears are shared by Slovakia. The official standpoint is that Slovakia is a very young state and first has to decide on the role of its central and local authorities. Slovakia has a slightly different status in the Euroregion than the other member states.
The unification of Europe is a real process and, whether one likes it or not, seems inevitable. However, its main reason is most probably the presence of the media and the growing transportation capabilities. The diversity of ideas becomes less and less geographically determined and depends more and more on individual choice. The dark side of the situation may be a fading out of local culture, the positive side may be the chance to keep nationalist tendencies at bay and the growth of possibilities for reconciliation between the individuals from various nations. The sovereignty of the member states is by no means limited by creation of a euroregion. It is enough to read its statute to see this.
Polish environmental organizations obviously do not share the fears based on nationalistic presumptions but are more concerned about uncontrolled economic development.
Although one of the four commissions of the Euroregion was created especially to develop projects concerning environment and health protection, the overall Euroregion policy on environment so far seems nebulous. A sufficient stimulus to create the environmental projects is the vision of financial support from the European Community and various foreign investors. However, the opinions are divided on whether the aid will really come. Professor Stanislaw Herman from the Polish Institute for International Affairs says that among the euroregions created now in Poland, the Carpatian one has the least chances because of the poorly developed tourist and recreational facilities. The relatively low pollution in this area does not constitute a real danger to Western countries. An undeveloped transportation system and lack of sufficiently developed dwellings also point to the probability that foreign investors may be discouraged.
Neverthless, the cooperation between the Euroregion countries will certainly bring some results. The sociologists say that the most natural bounds are the regional links. Professor Roman Kuzniar of the Polish Foreign Ministry believes that the Euroregional cooperation will sooner or later result in a synergy effect: the member states or their regions together can achieve more than they would achieve separately. Taking into account how the environmental issues are neglected in the Euroregion countries, a negative effect of the economic awakening on the Eastern Carpatians nature should be expected.
The representatives of the nongovernmental environmental groups in Poland are trying to become members of the commission of Environment and Health Protection of the Euroregion as observers.
The Secretary General of the Euroregion for the first year of its existence is the Voivod for Przemysl, Mr. Adam Peziol.
The Euroregion Secretariat, presided by Mr. Artur Wolczanski, is seated in Sanok, at ul. Grzegorza 2; tel. 0-137-37880, fax 0-137-30 004.
transl. Marcin Chyla