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. Its catchment area covers the regions of Baden and Palatinate (Südpfalz) in Germany, the sub-region of Alsace on the French side and the five north-western Swiss cantons of Basel-Stadt, Basel-Landschaft, Aargau, Solothurn and Jura.

Upper Rhine Conference

History
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.

Responsibilities
The Upper Rhine Conference fundamentally deals with all issues that involve a cross-border cooperation. The topics currently covered are addressed in twelve thematic working groups. Several hundred experts from specialist administrations are involved in the exchange of ideas and experiences in the fields of education and training, healthcare, youth, disaster relief, culture, regional planning, environment and climate protection, transport, business, agriculture, statistics and sports.

The joint secretariat of the Upper Rhine Conference is located in Kehl (Germany) and is run by permanent delegates from all three countries.

Presidency
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. The one-year presidency changes in rotation of the three countries. In 2022 the Swiss delegation, led by the Canton of Basel-Stadt in the person of President of the Government Beat Jans, holds the presidency. The aim of the Swiss presidency of the Trinational Metropolitan Region of the Upper Rhine is to make a substantial contribution towards increasing the strength of the trinational Upper Rhine region as a place for working and living on the Upper Rhine with the specific purpose of actively promoting the interests of the trinational region with the national governments and the EU. Cross-sectoral issues such as dealing with the pandemic, climate protection and digitisation are considered to be priority focus areas.

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Upper Rhine Council (ORR)

Since 1998, the Upper Rhine Council has been the complementary political body for the administration-focused Franco-German-Swiss Conference of the Upper Rhine (ORK).  The 71 members of the Council and other elected officials (e.g. members of the Basel-Stadt parliament) support and encourage the ORK in its work. In this way, they increase the democratic legitimacy of the trinational cooperation.

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Meeting of the Upper Rhine Conference in Kehl in 2021, with representatives from the three countries.