The Secretary General attended the Fourth Symposium of the Virtual Alpine Observatory (VAO) that was organized by the German Aerospace Centre from 13 to 15 March 2018 in Grenoble, France. On this occasion, Mr. Burianek took part in a panel discussion on the importance of the VAO which is a network of European high alpine network stations.
In his intervention, Mr Burianek described how the work of the VAO could be supported and continued in the future in the most effective way. He suggested that the VAO could take the legal personality of European Grouping of Territorial Cooperation (EGTC) which is a European legal instrument designed to facilitate and promote cross-border, transnational and interregional cooperation.
The EGTC as legal entity is unique in the sense that it enables public authorities of various Member States to team up and deliver joint services, without requiring a prior international agreement to be signed and ratified by national parliaments. This cuts down on red tape considerably since for example not all involved municipal and regional councils or partners need to approve participation in EU funded projects but only the Director of the EGTC. Mr Burianek ended his intervention by saying that the CoR stands ready to assist the VAO in the process of the creation of an EGTC. Being the EU Registry for EGTCs, the CoR has been giving advice and assistance to many EGTCs. The CoR also runs a platform bringing together all EGTCs in Europe so that they can share experience and benefit from each other's advice and achievements.
The VAO network of European high-alpine research stations was established in 2012 and examines scientific research questions relating to atmospheric and climate variability, the effects of climate change on the alpine environment, the alpine hydrological cycle and the risks for the environment and human health. This year's symposium was attended by about one hundred scientists from Austria, France, Germany, Italy and Switzerland as well as by representatives from the associated countries of Georgia and Norway.