The Upper Rhine Conference (ORK)
The Franco-German-Swiss Conference of the Upper Rhine (ORK) provides the institutional framework of cross-border regional cooperation in the Upper Rhine area.
- Photo: D-F-CH Oberrheinkonferenz
Its catchment area covers the regions of Baden and South Palatinate in Germany, the Alsace region on the French side, as well as the five Northwestern Swiss cantons of Basel-Stadt, Basel-Landschaft, Aargau, Solothurn and Jura.
The Upper Rhine Conference fundamentally deals with all issues that involve a cross-border cooperation. The topics currently covered are reflected in eleven thematic task forces, which are run by experts from various specialist bodies. These experts exchange ideas and information on the topics of: education and training, health, young people, disaster relief, culture, spatial planning, the environment, transport, idustry, agriculture, climate change and sports. There are currently 36 committees of experts working towards strengthening specific issues within the task forces.
The Upper Rhine Conference was the result of a merger in 1991 between the northern bi-national and the southern tri-national Regional Committee, which had been formed in 1975. Furthermore, the Government Commission represents the link between the Upper Rhine Conference and the national governments and can mediate questions, which cannot be settled at the regional level.
History and responsibilities of the Upper Rhine Conference
The Executive Committee, the central decision-making body, usually meets twice a year. At the end of the year, a plenary meeting takes place in the country that holds the presidency. In 2016, the presidency was last held by the Swiss delegation and performed by the Government of the Canton of Basel-Stadt. The one-year presidency changes in rotation of the three countries and will go back to Switzerland in 2019.
The joint secretariat of the Upper Rhine Conference is located in Kehl (Germany) and is run by permanent delegates from all three countries.