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The Trinational Commission and the Upper Rhine Conference

In 1975 the Bonn inter-governmental agreement established three cross-border co-operation entities: the Inter-governmental Commission and two Regional Committees for the Southern and Northern parts of the region. It was the first time that the governments of Germany, Switzerland and France were creating official bodies in charge of cross-border co-operation. The areas targeted by those bodies were the departments of Lower and Upper Rhine in France, the Mittlerer Oberrhein, the Sudlicher Oberrhein and Lorrach in the Baden-Wurttemberg Land and the Sudpfalz in the Rhine-Palatinate Land in Germany, and the Basel-City and Basel-Campagne cantons in Switzerland. The co-ordination bodies were organised in thematic working groups on environment, transport, tourism and economic development. The commission provides recommendations and suggests revisions of normative text to the governments of the three member states. The commission is composed of a delegation from each country, appointed by each government. Each delegation is supervised by the respective country’s Minister of Foreign Affairs.

The Upper Rhine Conference was created in 1991 from the merger of the two pre-existing regional committees. The Upper Rhine Conference is now the central body of cross-border co-operation and information sharing in the cross-border area and it regularly reports to the inter-governmental Trinational Commission. The conference operates through a common Secretariat, established in 1996. The Secretariat is responsible for the co-ordination of the 12 thematic working groups (among which are economic and territorial development) and interacts on an on-going basis with other cross-border actors. In 2000, the geographical area targeted by the conference was enlarged to additional Swiss cantons (Argovie, Soleure and Jura) and German regions (Waldshut, Sudliche, Weinstrasse, Gemersheim, Landau in der Pfalz, Dahner Felsenland and Hauenstein).

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