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 General Assembly of the Association of European Border Regions.
“I am pleased to see the level of positive co-operation that is happening across borders and between different regions across Europe, specifically between regions like Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland which share a common language.
“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 there are problems with the differences in legal systems and administrative practices between different countries. These issues are not impossible to tackle, but in order to fully maximise the great potential that exists, 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.”