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.
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.
History and responsibilities of the Upper Rhine Conference
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.
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 2019, the Swiss delegation chairs the Upper Rhine Conference. The joint secretariat of the Upper Rhine Conference is located in Kehl (Germany) and is run by permanent delegates from all three countries.