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Fields of Cooperation between the Visegrad Group Countries and the Benelux


List of Decisions for the Meeting in Bratislava on the 15–16th of February 2005


Poland, Hungary, the Czech and Slovak Republic decided in 2003 to determine the fields of cooperation between the Visegrad and Benelux countries in order to identify possible common actions. After the first meeting with coordinators from the various countries, a working group prepared an inventory of possible fields of cooperation, exchange of information and best practices. The following topics are considered to be important in the cooperation between the Benelux and the Visegrad countries:
 
1. Schengen issues
Point of decision:
To approve in the organisation of a conference where representatives of the V4 countries meet with experts of the Council of the European Union regarding Schengen matters. The contact day will take place in Brussels in the first half of 2005.
 
The General Secretariat of the Benelux will organise the conference taking into consideration the decisions taken by the Ministers of the V4 countries as taken in November 2004 concerning "Schengen matters" and based on the list of topics as put forward as most important by the V4 countries.
 
2. The Benelux Trademark and Design office in Den Haag
Point of decision:
 
To approve in the organisation of a visit to the Benelux Trademark and Design office in Den Haag in order to learn more about it's functioning. The visit will take place in the first half of 2005.
 
The General Secretariat of the Benelux will organise the visit. The V4 countries will appoint the participants representing their country.
 
3. Cooperation in the Benelux parliament
Point of decision:
 
To approve that an official parliamentary delegation will attend one of the coming plenary sessions of the Benelux Parliament. This will take place in 2005.
 
The General Secretariat of the Benelux will organise the participation of the official parliamentary delegation to the plenary session of the Benelux Parliament. The V4 countries will appoint the participants representing their country.
 
4. The cooperation in Euro Controle Route
Point of decision:

To stimulate the accession of the V4 countries to the ECR network through research into the benefits of participation in this network.
 
Poland has joined the ECR cooperation on the 8th of October 2004. The other countries are invited to prepare an evaluation concerning the importance and benefits of participating in the ECR network.
 
5. European structural funds, infrastructure and spatial planning
6. Environmental issues and protection, implementation of NATURE 2000
7. Investment policy, tourism and promotion in third countries
8. Social and labour policy, labour market issues, cross border employment, employment possibilities in the Benelux
 
Point of decision:
To approve in the start of the process of preparing a list of specific items important for cooperation with respect to the themes as mentioned above.
 
The V4 countries will appoint experts with respect to the various working fields. The General Secretariat will start an e-mail exchange of expertise with these representatives in order to generate possible topics of cooperation including different aspects of regional development, the experiences with short and middle term projects, the dialogue with the EU presidency, implementation of EU regulations, the preparation of a declaration of support by the Benelux on the Carpathian Convention, the use of EU structural funds for projects, joint websites and information, joint promotional activities and how to support industrial associations, methods of getting data, statistics on cross border workers and possibilities for employment.

Brussels, 28th of January 2005

V4 (2005) 1
JM
KvdV
 
 
Fields of Cooperation between the Visegrad Countries and the Benelux
Note for theMeeting in Bratislava on the 15–16th of February 2005
 
 
Introduction
 
Poland, Hungary, the Czech and Slovak Republic decided in 2003 to determine the fields of cooperation between the Visegrad and Benelux countries in order to identify possible common actions. After the first meeting with coordinators from the various countries, a working group prepared an inventory of possible fields of cooperation, exchange of information and best practices.
 
Topics of cooperation Benelux and Visegrad
Bearing in mind the working fields of the General Secretariat, the following topics are considered to be important in the cooperation between the Benelux and the Visegrad countries:
 
1. Schengen issues
The Visegrad delegations emphasized the importance of Schengen related issues. Having the experience of the birth of the Schengen cooperation, the Benelux is in a good position to act as an intermediate to provide more detailed information on that item. Various aspects in connection to Schengen that could be subject of the exchange of information:
 
1. the evaluation of Schengen
2. the Schengen information system
3. the implementation of the Schengen acquis
4. combating illegal immigration
5. exchange of personal data and DNA
6. cooperation on visa policy
7. police cooperation (Hazeldonk concertation)
 
The Visegrad countries have expressed their wish to get more information on the Benelux experiences with respect to these items and best practices (e.g. with respect to asylum and immigration) in the light of their priority to access to the Schengen area in the years to come. The delegations estimate that Schengen related items at the moment have the highest priority.
 
Specific topics regarding Schengen are:
· The analysis of how to harmonize
· Detailed evaluation and action plans
· The joint application
· Preparation for admission in October 2007
· Expert support network
 
A paper will be produced with questions and a list of items for discussion on Schengen issues and a list of contact persons in the various countries. This paper is to be considered as the first proposal for a seminar with experts on Schengen issues to be held in Brussels in the spring of 2005.
 
2. The Benelux Trademark and Design office in Den Haag
A field trip to this office with the delegates present will be organized in 2005 in order to learn more about its functioning.
 
3. Cooperation in the Benelux parliament
The Visegrad delegations are invited to attend the plenary session of the Benelux Parliament and are invited to send an official parliamentary delegation to the plenary session.
 
4. The cooperation in Euro Controle Route
Poland has joined the ECR cooperation on the 8th of October.
 
5. European structural funds, infrastructure and spatial planning
Topics are: exchange of information on regional development, the experiences with short and middle term projects, the dialogue with the EU presidency, how EU regulations are implemented
 
6. Environmental issues and protection, implementation of NATURE 2000
The most important issue regarding environment is the implementation of Nature 2000. It will be important to have a dialogue on this issue with partners in a network. The intention of the cooperation with the Benelux countries is the signing of a declaration of support by the Benelux on the Carpathian Convention.
 
7. Investment policy, tourism and promotion in third countries
The General Secretariat has a limited assignment when it comes to tourism. Special interest is asked for the use of EU structural funds for projects, joint websites and information, joint promotional activities and how to support industrial associations
 
8. Social and labour policy, labour market issues, cross border employment, employment possibilities in the Benelux
Possible topics of cooperation include: methods of getting data, statistics on cross border workers and possibilities for employment
 
Items listed under points 5 to 8 need further examination and elaboration.
 
The character of the General Secretariat within the Benelux cooperation limits the nature of direct assistance that the General Secretariat can provide to the Visegrad countries. The General Secretariat however can provide:
 
General expertise available in the organisation of the General Secretariat (e.g. Schengen related issues, spatial planning etc) and an intermediate role between experts from the Visegrad countries looking for counterparts in Ministries of Belgium, Luxemburg and the Netherlands (e.g. concerning tourism, labour market policy) [...]

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