The ninth and thereby last workshop within the Legal Accessibility project was held in Pécs, at the Mayor’s Offices (1 Széchenyi I. square), to which stakeholders active in cross-border cooperation in the Croatian-Hungarian border region were invited. In the form of a round table discussion, two associates of CESCI were collecting information on the legal obstacles, deficiencies and best practices experienced by local actors.
The meeting was held on the 18th of February 2016 and attended by 7 participants in the following sectors and fields:
- ambulance service: Regional Rescue Organisation of the National Ambulance Service
- police: Baranya County Police Department
- disaster management: Baranya County Directorate for Disaster Management
- economic development organisations: Pécs-Baranya Chambers for Industry and Commerce, South Transdanubian Regional Development Agency
- local government sector: Organisation for Border towns in South Baranya
- European grouping for territorial cooperation: Pannon European grouping for territorial cooperation
The Croatian-Hungarian border region is somewhat different from border sections with other member states, as Croatia is not (yet) part of the Schengen Zone. As a consequence, border crossing, although simplified, is not entirely without obstacles. There are similar structural issues on both sides of the border, asymmetry stimulating cross-border movements is not characteristic. Still, there regularly are spontaneous interactions, but formal cooperation is less evolved at this stage, and specific initiatives have in many cases not yet reached a point of identifying exact obstacles.
Daily travel for students studying on the other side of the border was mentioned as an issue hindering everyday life. Operation of cross-border school buses is difficult due to the legislative environment, and related initiatives have unfruitful until now.
Employment-related daily commuting is not typical in the area, seasonal migration of employees is more common. This is a spontaneous activity and thus is not facing any obstacles.
As a good practice, the continuous cooperation between law enforcement and disaster management bodies was mentioned. In the case of the police, this means common performance of duty, while in the case of disaster management, it materialises in the form of common simulation exercises.
Chambers for industry and commerce (as well as the local organisation of the Enterprise Europe Network) are also maintaining good contact, but they are facing information asymmetry hindering their daily activities. The Regional Development Agency, together with the neighbouring Croatian region, have a common regional representative office in Brussels, which holds great potential, but also some barriers, such as the representation competences varying per country.