The European Union points to the opportunities of river borders such as the Minho as a factor of social cohesion and economic growth

The EGTC Rio Minho and the EGTC GO (Italy – Slovenia) today led a Side Events debate organized around the European Week of Regions and Cities (#EURegionsWeek) on the peculiarities of river borders and their importance as a link between peoples and territories. The meeting was moderated by the deputy head of the “Interreg, Cross-border Cooperation Internal Borders” unit of DG REGIO, Nathalie Verschelde, and was attended by the director of the EGTC Rio Minho, Uxío Benítez, the director of the EGTC GO, Romina Kocina, MEP Isabel Estrada Cavalhais and MEP Matjaž Nemec.

Face with the question of whether rivers break territorial continuity or, on the contrary, are a connecting factor between both banks, the conference highlighted the role played by international rivers as a great tool for cohesion and economic growth, but also the problems they face the cross-border territories both in the environmental preservation of their water basins, and in the face of the legal and administrative obstacles derived from the existence of different regulations between states.

In the same vein, the director of the EGTC Rio Minho, Uxío Benítez, spoke about the challenges facing the Portuguese Galician territory, which is also under the protection of the Natura 2000 Network. On the other hand, he recalled how the restrictions on travel and the closure of the border resulting from the health crisis of Covid-19 dramatically affected the territory of Rio Minho and the mobility of around thirteen thousand cross-border workers for months.

As pointed out by the representative of DG REGIO, Nathalie Verschelde, the issue of border rivers is not marginal, as there are 51 natural borders of this type in the European Union, including some well-known ones such as those of the Elbe River, the Rhine or the Danube.