A region for the people
Over 6 million people live in the RegioTriRhena, two thirds are of employment age. Since 2010, the employment rate has grown from 79 to 81%. This is a region of economic strength, covering vehicle construction, tourism, service sectors and the life sciences, which all secure jobs and stable growth. It is also a region where people enjoy living, are above the average happy and in general earn above-average wages. This happiness is also shared with 22 million tourists per year who have registered overnight stays.
The future of Fessenheim
How can the shutdown of the atomic power station in Fessenheim lead to an innovation-driven region? Eucor – The European Campus and the “Cluster für Nachhaltigkeitsforschung am Oberrhein” (cluster for sustainable research in the Upper Rhine) presented a feasibility study with concrete investment possibilities at the end of 2021. In January 2021, the French state, the Region Grand Est, together with the State ministries from Baden-Württemberg signed a finance agreement over 800,000 Euro to support this project.
European Campus – studying over borders
Borders are a thing of the past, also in the academic world. This is shown in the three-nation border triangle through Eucor –The European Campus. Five universities from Germany, France and Switzerland work on this together, to all intents and purposes, the first cross-border European University. This project multiplies the career chances of 117,000 students and 11,000 doctoral students. For example, a Bachelor´s degree in Basel and Master´s degree in Freiburg is possible. 1,000 different courses are offered with 15,000 lecturers and researchers who are part of this project. This is normal for the region, but it offers many more possibilities than other universities.
Do you have anything to declare?
How open the region has become can be seen at the borders in Breisach or Kehl, where goods-trading flows easily. However, in Weil am Rhein and in Rheinfelden, the customs have more work to do, because these are at the EU-borders. More than 1 million heavy goods vehicles clear customs each year, generating over 2 billion Euro in tax. In addition, the border customs control much more. In 2020, they impounded 182 kg of mariuhana and many other illegal drugs. They protect against smuggling, illicit employment and product piracy. This is also economic support according to the customs professionals.
The European Parliament: the heart of Europe
The heart of Europe is in …. Brussels? Correct, but also in Strasbourg. This is the seat of the European parliament for over 750 delegates. EU laws are debated here 12 days/year along with discussions on the EU budget and the parliamentary control of the EU-commission. This is globally the largest parliament, representing different nations. During the Corona pandemic in 2020, where meetings were cancelled, the people of Alsace were worried that the parliament could be moved to Brussels. However, the Strasbourg location remained, because this is the heart of Europe.
Tourism beyond borders
MMore than 20 million overnight stays per year allow you to experience the heart of Europe covering Black Forest romantic, French “savoir vivre”, majestic Gothic buildings or the Roman city Augusta Raurica near Basel. In the border triangle, the citizens think beyond country borders. In the “Upper Rhine Valley” this open-thinking is also offered to its guests. 12 tourism organisations in Germany, France and Switzerland are part of this. They offer pristine landscapes, cultural treasures and sport beyond their borders. Three countries whose best offers come together here generate an incomparable cultural diversity.
Europa Park Rust – the best of all!
Over 5 million guests per year and regular awards confirm this as a top destination. The location of the Europa Park in the trans-border triangle, Germany, France and Switzerland is a direct hit, according to the park operater, Roland Mack. “Every year, we welcome over 1 million guests from Switzerland and France and a major fraction of our employees come from France” added Mack. “We experience Europe every day because culture unites the countries and the people”. Indeed the Europa Park contributes a significant role here.
Shopping tourism is governed by the market conditions
Buying petrol in Switzerland or cigarettes in France? Shopping tourism is a major theme in the region. Although the courses vary continuously, today Alsace citizens can buy their Gauloises in Breisach, or the Baden citizens enjoy trips to the Supermarche, where the fish counters have Mediterranean-like offers. The Swiss purchase million-fold in Germany, although this can generate conflicts, especially for trade in Switzerland, which cannot compete with the lower prices in South Baden or Alsace. However, the Baden citizens still enjoy shopping in Migros in Basel.
Health issues beyond borders
Altogether, the region has over 300 hospitals with 30,000 beds. This excellent situation proved to be successful during the Corona pandemic, where hospitals from Baden-Württemberg and Switzerland allowed transfer of critically ill patients from Alsace to their hospitals. Collaboration to save lives fitted exactly within the vision to generate a health system beyond borders, whereby hospitals and colleges must unite to achieve this end. This is a major undertaking, involving details such as patient mobility, data security and how the costs are covered. However, this vision is not a luxury, rather an obligation for us all.
350 times enjoyment with a museum pass
It was originally planned for 60, but 120 were needed straight away and now it covers approximately 350 museums. The trinational museum pass has become very popular since 1999. This pass allows entry into many museums in the bor-der triangle. The “Museums-PASS-Musees” has allowed the region to develop into a cultural epicenter. This includes globally recognised Unterlindenmuseum in Colmar, the Fondation Beyeler near Basel or the Vitra Design Museum in Weil am Rhein. In addition, it covers entry to many small but fascinating museums. This pass will allow entry to any museum for every day of the year for an en-trance price of less than 50 cents/museum.
The Rhine: a lifeline that unites us
The Rhine unites the region to the world. It is the lifeline of the citizens of Ortenau, Alsace and northern Switzerland. It represents the most important transport axis for containers carrying coal, sand and oil between Genoa and Rotterdam. The Rhine has a great future, e.g., one ship replaces 100 heavy duty vehicles on the autobahn. The ports in Rheinfelden, Basel, Mulhouse, Neuf-Brisach and Kehl are important intersections for transfer of goods to rail. The port Autonome in Strasbourg is the third largest Rhine port employing 13,000 workers.
Euro airport – a successful model, globally unique
The first runway was made in 1946 from punched sheets. Thereafter, it took a long time developing. However, this was successful with a record of 9.1 million passengers registered in 2019. This was followed by the Corona pandemic. In 2021, it celebrated its 75th anniversary as a globally unique binational airport, serving three countries as a common destination. In future, a rail connection is planned and the bus connections will be extended. Its vision is to grow. The Euro airport will remain a success story. It is a job motor for over 6000 people and is a concept representing the teamwork in the region.
Commitment of the Region
The train connection from Freiburg in Germany to Colmar in Alsace will soon become reactivated. In 1945, the connection was destroyed, but it is now one of 15 priority projects from the new German-French treaty. This is an important building block for the former atomic power station, Fessenheim. Up to 6,000 people/day will be able to use this facility. Germany, France and the EU have already donated 3.5 million Euro to start this project. The railroad has revived the project from what was listed as a discontinued track. This is expected to cost up to 275 million Euro and is planned to be re-opened by 2029.
Biovalley – Lifes Sciences Network
Biovalley® consists of 280 excellent research groups and research facilities, highly-qualified lecturers, approximately 300 top Life Science companies and 14 Biotechnology parks. The idea, generated by the businessman Georg Endress was to build a trinational cluster of Life Sciences in the heart of Europe, uniting the leading brains, which has been proven and tested. All members follow the same goal in a powerful network of companies, research institutes, public authorities and business development to achieve a globally significant Life Sciences Cluster in the region. The expertise is here and with European support the future can be guaranteed.
INFOBEST – answers to all questions
In 2019 over 5400 inquiries confirm its importance. For example, when someone from RegioTrirhena needs information as a cross-border commuter, these are best found at the INFOBEST information centre at the borders Breisach/Vogelgrün, Kehl/Strasbourg and at the trinational information centre INFOBEST PALMRAIN Basel/Weil in Rhine/St Louis. Regardless of whether a citizen requires information concerning the public authorities or tax laws in the neighbouring country, or if a company or society has cross-border questions, these can all be answered. These answers are bilingual with 58 providers involved. This is how collaboration works.
More than 100,000 trans-border commuters daily
An analysis of the employment rates in the Upper Rhine region illustrates the complexity of the work-markets. Every day, almost 100,000 commuters cross the borders to reach their jobs. The majority cross from Alsace (34,200) and the German Upper Rhine area (36,200) into north-west Switzerland, together with 26,200 from France into Germany.
The trans-border employment market is a central element for integration in the Upper Rhine Valley. Several projects such as Eures-T Oberrhein, the Euroregio certificate and the bi- and tri-national study courses along with education beyond the borders offer important roles in improving the employment potential in the region.