Stewart Dickson MLA said: “As a rapporteur for a report on ‘inter-regional co-operation’, I was very pleased to have been invited to speak at the Centre for Cross Border Studies conference.
“It is great to see the level of positive co-operation that is happening between countries and regions like Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
“The recent financial crisis is focusing attention on the potential benefits of cross border co-operation. Local and regional authorities are trying to avoid duplication with expensive infrastructure projects and to pool their resources in areas such as health, education and emergency services.
“However in order to facilitate this increase in co-operation, different countries and regions will have to overcome differences in legal systems and administrative practices. To do this, we need to change the way in which cross-border co-operation is perceived by national governments.
“A new protocol on co-operation between regions has come into force which has provided a much needed legal framework for setting up a grouping between regions for co-operation.
“We have the instruments to deliver greater co-operation, we now have to foster the political will to do so.”