A functioning network of partner regions is indispensable for promoting the interests of the Tyrol in Europe. The Tyrol has accordingly built up contacts with other regions over the years and plays an active role in the work of the large organisations of the European regions.
The Externer Link Assembly of European Regions (AER) is an umbrella organisation of the regions of Europe based in Strasbourg with about 300 member regions from Western, Central and Eastern Europe. The primary aim of the AER, apart from promoting regionalism and federalism, is to achieve strong institutional integration of the regions within the European institutions.
The main objective of the Externer Link Association of European Border Regions (AEBR) is to address the specific problems of border regions. Even if the Single European market and the Schengen Agreement have abolished national borders in Europe, border regions are still disadvantaged in terms of the everyday problems of living and working in a cross-border context.
Successful initiatives have been taken to promote cross-border cooperation in the Tyrolean border areas with Bavaria, South Tyrol and Grisons. To a large extent they are supported by local authorities and interest groups and are rooted in the community. These initiatives relate a wide variety of topics ranging from business, technology transfer and traffic, to tourism, the environment, culture and sport.
74 regions in eight of the 27 EU member states have legislative powers. These "strong" regions have joined REGLEG - regions with legislative power - to work in both the member states and the European Union to create more opportunities to shape policy and secure their rights. The regions with law-making powers demand specific recognition of the regional dimension in all relevant provisions of EU treaties. They also bear responsibility for enacting and guaranteeing the implementation of EU law wherever it affects regional legislative authority, taking account of the fact that the regions are not only affected by EU legislation and its consequences but are also involved in its implementation. The EU can only achieve its goals in terms of democracy, transparency, efficiency, flexibility, subsidiarity, effectiveness and political reliability if the regions with law-making powers have more room for manoeuvre.
At the initiative of the Tyrol, recent years have seen the development of efficient co-operation amongst the members of the Externer Link Committee of the Regions (CoR) in those countries of the Alps that have joined together to form the Interregional Alpine Group. This interest group meets regularly before the plenary sessions of the CoR to agree on common approaches in areas involving the specific interests of mountain areas.
The Externer Link Brenner Railway Action Committee developed out of an Alpine joint venture and unites the governments and chambers of commerce of the countries and provinces along the Brenner axis, i.e. Bavaria, the Tyrol, South Tyrol, Trentino and Verona. The action committee works to coordinate and represent members’ common interests in upgrading the current Brenner railway and creating a new rail link between Munich and Verona with the Brenner Base Tunnel as its centre-piece. The focus is on lobbying for this project in the framework of the EU Trans-European priority networks.
The Tyrol is a member of the European Network of Externer Link GMO-free Regions. The objectives of the network, which comprises regions from all member countries of the EU and beyond, are to maintain agriculture without the use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), protect biodiversity, and monitor and promote responsibility in the use of genetic engineering.
As neighbouring regional entities, Bavaria, the Tyrol, Vorarlberg, Salzburg and Upper Austria hold annual meetings at head of government level. The meetings serve to agree on common positions on European policy to be represented in the respective capitals and in Brussels.
The Bavarian-Tyrolean Discussion Group has met annually since it was first established in 1969. The committee of experts works to promote the implementation of projects in the areas of highway construction, hydraulic engineering, nature conservation etc. This long-standing platform for cooperation has generated solutions to many problems through direct contacts.
Other bilateral arrangements, with regions further away, relate to projects and events in the fields of education, culture and youth exchange.
In November 2006, the Tyrol and the Italian province of Venice issued a joint declaration on the subject of Herunterladen an agreement to deepen cooperation in tourism and to intensify economic ties.
In their Herunterladen joint declaration, the Tyrol and the German-speaking community in Belgium expressed their intention to strengthen cooperation in the fields of culture, society, education and further education. The most effective way to promote successful exchange is direct contact between people, businesses, civil society organisations, social institutions and administrative bodies.
On the basis of a Herunterladen joint declaration of the Tyrol and the Indonesian province of Yogyakarta, contacts have been developed at university level in the areas of politics, economics and culture.
Since 1999, a Herunterladen partnership agreement has existed with Henan province in the People's Republic of China targeted at cooperation in the fields of business, technology, education, culture and health.
The EU education project "Vocational education as the key to the future" implemented by the states of the Tyrol, South Tyrol and Trentino in cooperation with the Vietnamese province of Bac Ninh was established to reorganise the regional education system in Bac Ninh province. In two-year courses, languages, accountancy and business studies will be taught in addition to specialist vocational subjects.
Development cooperation in the Tyrol is centred on projects which have a special link to the Tyrol and projects in which Tyroleans have been or are being employed as development workers.
The Tyrol and fifteen Tyrolean local authorities have officially met with the indigenous people of the rain forests in the framework of the Externer Link Climate Alliance established to protect the earth's atmosphere. The Schwaz local authority received a certificate in recognition of its work in climate protection as part of the Alpine Environmental Award in 1999.
Numerous Externer Link partnerships have been established between local authorities in the Tyrol and their counterparts in Europe and overseas in support of a people-related style of contact between regions.