The comprehensive network of cooperation and partnership agreements in Northwest Switzerland reflects a distinctly regional and network-based approach between the cantons. Partnerships are fostered under the aegis of the Northwest Switzerland Intergovernmental Conference and within regional conferences of specialist directors, in addition to a broad network of partly formal and partly informal specialist conferences and issue-specific working groups. The Northwest Switzerland Intergovernmental Conference (NWRK) is the cornerstone of this regional cooperation. It brings together the Cantons of Solothurn, Basel-Stadt, Basel-Landschaft, Aargau and Jura, which have a joint population of around 1.3 million. The Cantons of Zurich and Berne are associate members. According to the agreement, the NWRK is responsible for coordinating regional cooperation. In addition, it provides overall guidance for collaboration in areas that still require suitable forms of cooperation or require the launching or initiation of projects and cooperation agreements. The NRWK’s cooperation activities cover a broad spectrum of thematic issues with a focus on transport, education/research/innovation and finances/economy.
Basel Metropolitan Conference
Created in 2012, the Metropolitan Conference of Basel (MKB) plays a special role within regional cooperation. The MKB is a platform set up by the NWRK which extends to the metropolitan area. One of Switzerland’s three metropolitan areas, and one of the country’s four commercial conurbations, the MKB stretches over several cantonal borders as well as three countries. Political structures have not kept pace with the spatial development of the Basel metropolitan area. The goal of the MKB is to centralise powers within the Basel area beyond traditional political cooperation and to establish a common representation of interests for the metropolitan area. The MKB therefore brings together stakeholders in politics, business and civil society. Meeting usually once a year, the MKB focuses on subjects of particular relevance to the metropolitan area of Basel. In specific, the MKB:
- emphasises that investment in the transport infrastructure are crucial to the development of the regional economy and regional planning;
- fully supports the realisation of a tri-modal container terminal in north Basel in view of the growing turnover volumes;
- calls on the Confederation to take account of the position of Northwest Switzerland in its consideration of issues regarding regional business activities and free movement of persons with the EU;
- is convinced that the future of Switzerland as an intellectual and manufacturing centre, and especially the future of Northwest Switzerland as a centre of research, is crucially dependent on public investment.