Luxembourg in the Greater Region

Introduction

© SIP / Emmanuel Claude, all rights reserved

 

The Greater Region is located at the heart of Europe, less than 300 km from Paris, Brussels, Rotterdam and Frankfurt, and less than 600 km from London, Berlin, Prague and Milan.

In 2017, this territorial cooperation area (European Grouping of Territorial Cooperation or EGTC) around the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg includes:

The four partner countries are among the six founding countries of the European Union.

History and functioning

The concept of the Greater Region has its origins in the intergovernmental commissions set up by Germany, France and Luxembourg at the start of the 1970s, particularly in response to the crisis in the iron and steel industry in the area known as the 'mining triangle'.

The Greater Region proper was born on 16 October 1980 in Bonn (Germany) and consisted in the conclusion of the Agreement on Franco-German-Luxembourg cooperation in the border regions. Subsequently, the Greater Region became the institutional framework for the progressive deepening of cooperation between the different regions.

In 1986, the Conseil parlementaire interrégional (Interregional Parliamentary Council) became the first European initiative of its kind. In 1995 the first Sommet de la Grande Région (Summit of the Greater Region) took place in Mondorf-les-Bains (Luxembourg). From an economic point of view, the Comité économique et social de la Grande Région (Economic and Social Committee of the Greater Region) has brought together the social partners since 1997. In 1999, a Luxembourg-Rhineland-Palatinate-Saarland joint office was set up in the Grand Duchy. Since 2015, the Maison de la Grande Région (Greater Region House) in Esch-sur-Alzette has hosted several entities responsible for cross-border cooperation in the Greater Region, including:

On 1 January 2016, the Greater Region had over 11.5 million inhabitants, or 2.3% of the total population of the European Union (EU 28). With its four million inhabitants, Rhineland-Palatinate is by far the most populous regional component, followed by Wallonia, where almost 3.6 million people live (including 76,000 in the German-speaking Community of Belgium, known as Ostbelgien). Third place goes to Lorraine, which had around 2.34 million inhabitants at the start of 2015. The smallest regional components, in other words Saarland and Luxembourg, have one million and a little over half a million inhabitants respectively.

In 2015, the employment rate was 70.1% in the Greater Region. The percentage of working population is thus equivalent to the EU 28 (70.0%). The unemployment rate in the Greater Region was 7.9% in 2015, or 1.5 points less than the European level (9.4%).

The Greater Region is the cross-border region with the largest number of cross-border workers in the EU. In 2016, over 220,000 people crossed a border each day in the Greater Region in order to reach their workplace located in a neighbouring region, with 170,000 travelling to Luxembourg alone. The Greater Region is thus the largest cross-border labour market in the European Union.

Three official languages are spoken in the Greater Region (Luxembourgish, German and French), with additional regional variations. The Greater Region, where Germanic culture meets Romance culture, is characterised by its cultural diversity. Europe happens and is developed in the Greater Region, the ultimate 'European laboratory'. It is truly a place of cultural, linguistic, historical, natural and gastronomic discoveries. The Greater Region has over 20 UNESCO world heritage sites, which form an extraordinary cultural wealth, based on the richness of the region's heritage. Some of them are among our civilisation's most precious historical testimonies, for example the neolithic flint mines in Spiennes, the cathedral of Spire, the 6 belfries of Wallonia and the four hydraulic boat lifts in La Louvière.

Cross-border projects

Some concrete examples of cross-border projects:

There are numerous other projects and actions. You will find all the relevant information on the new Greater Region portal (in French and German): granderegion.net.

Summit of Greater Region Executives

Composition

The Summit of Executives is composed of: 

  • the Prime Minister of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg;
  • the Minister for the Greater Region of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg;
  • the Minister-President of Rhineland-Palatinate;
  • the Minister-President of Saarland;
  • the Minister-President of Wallonia;
  • the Minister-President of the Wallonia-Brussels Federation;
  • the Minister-President of the German-speaking Community of Belgium (Ostbelgien);
  • the Prefect of the Grand Est Region
  • the President of the Regional Council of Grand Est Region;
  • the President of the Meurthe-et-Moselle Regional Council;
  • the President of the Moselle Regional Council.

The President of the Meuse Regional Council and the President of the Vosges Regional Council participate in the Summit's work as observers.

During the informal Greater Region Summit which took place on 4 July 2017 in Schengen, it was decided to launch the procedure for Meuse Département to become a full member of the Summit as of 1 January 2018 and to grant the status of observer to Ardennes Département.

Presidency of the Summit

The presidency of the Summit is held in turn by each region for a period of 24 months. It fulfils the following main tasks:

  • the general coordination of the Greater Region political project and ensuring the continuity and consistency of the Summit's work;
  • proposing new impetus by developing and implementing its own programme of actions which are integrated into each new joint declaration;
  • organising and facilitating the meetings of the Summit, supporting the organisation of ministerial conferences in cooperation with the working groups concerned;
  • chairing the meetings of the College of personal representatives of the executives.

News items on gouvernement.lu (selection - in French)

Legislation

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