The Upper Rhine Conference
The Upper Rhine Conference (more correctly, the Franco-German-Swiss Conference of the Upper Rhine) provides the institutional framework for cross-border cooperation in the Upper Rhine region. It is the successor organization to the two regional commissions (bipartite regional commission for the northern and tripartite regional commission for the southern Upper Rhine region) which derived from the 1975 Upper Rhine agreement between Germany, France and Switzerland and which were established to work under the auspices of the Franco-German-Swiss Intergovernmental Commission.
Organization and structure
The committees of the Upper Rhine Conference are:
• Steering Committee: the coordinating and decision-making body of the Upper Rhine Conference, consisting of a delegation from each of the three countries; the heads of the delegations take it in turns to assume the presidency of the Upper Rhine Conference for one calendar year at a time. The heads of the delegations are, respectively
o for France, the prefect of the region of Alsace,
o for Germany, (usually) the district president of Freiburg or Karlsruhe and
o for Switzerland, a Member of the Executive Council of one of the cantons of Basel-Stadt or Basel-Landschaft.
• Plenary Assembly: this is the discussion forum of the Upper Rhine Conference, consisting of one German, one French and one Swiss delegation with a maximum of 25 members each, appointed by the heads of the respective delegations (see Steering Committee).
• Joint Secretariat: this is the management body of the Upper Rhine Conference, consisting of one permanent representative (Delegation Secretary) from each of the German, French and Swiss delegations plus one administrative assistant; based in Kehl (Germany).
• Working groups: Twelve working groups have been established to deal with the cross-border issues that fall within the remit of the Upper Rhine Conference. These consist of experts from the French, German and Swiss partner institutions. Specifically, there are working groups for the following areas:
o Education and vocational training
o Public health
o Youth programs
o Disaster relief
o Regional planning
o Regional transport policy
o Economic policy
o Climate and Energy
The working groups assign work on specific issues or the implementation of specific projects to expert commissions. There are approx. 35 such expert commissions.