The CAA and the Alpine Convention

The work of the Club Arc Alpin (CAA) has always been guided by the principles of the Alpine Convention. Since 1996, the CAA has been the official observer of this treaty which is binding under international law. The CAA considers the principles and measures established in the Framework Convention and the eight Protocols to be a suitable and important instrument for the sustainable development of the Alpine region, especially thanks to its transnational character. For many problems in the Alps, international solutions must be found, for example concerning traffic, further land development and the energy question. The CAA therefore actively promotes the implementation of such solutions within the organs of the Alpine Convention and sends representatives to the Permanent Committee, the Compliance Committee and some of the Working Groups and Platforms.

However, after 30 years of existence, the Alpine Convention is still neither very tangible nor very visible. There are networks such as the “Alliance in the Alps” community network, which promotes the implementation of the Alpine Convention in its member municipalities, and there are projects such as the “Mountaineering Villages” project, which was initiated mainly by the Austrian Alpine Association (ÖAV) and constitutes a practical implementation of the Alpine Convention’s Tourism Protocol. Nevertheless, the CAA finds that there are still too few such networks and projects. This may be attributable, amongst other things, to a decrease in political support from some Member States in the last few years and the attendant shortage of funds. Moreover, the committees of the Alpine Convention operate according to the principle of consensus, meaning that decisions can only be made (and perhaps also implemented) if all Member States agree, and often only on the lowest common denominator. already in 2010 and 2011, in the course of a discussion process the CAA released several statements in favour of the use of the majority principle, at least in the few areas where the specifications of the Framework Convention would allow it, most recently in 2021. This was, however, rejected. In addition, the documents that are compiled, often very painstakingly, in the numerous Working Groups and Platforms of the Alpine Convention should be more widely publicised and distributed.

In the run-up to the 15th Alpine Conference 2019, the CAA participated in formulating the common concerns of eight observer organisations (see  French, Italian, Slovenian version), which had the intention to contribute to strengthening the Alpine Convention.

Most recently, the CAA has actively participated in the "ordinary compliance procedure", which takes place every 10 years and requires the contracting states to submit comprehensive country reports on the legal implementation of the provisions of the Alpine Convention. Instead of 2019 as foreseen, some reports were not submitted until 2020 or even 2021. The CAA, with the involvement of its member associations, has tried to somewhat question the purely self-reporting statements of the states, at least with regard to 20 selected articles. It also urged that the entire procedure be reformed, starting with the composition of the compliance committee, to allowing majority voting, to greater transparency and openness of the procedure. Unfortunately, only a few proposals were taken up.

The current Swiss Presidency 2021-22 focuses on efficient meetings, concentration on priority issues, discussions and exchanges at least among the Contracting Parties and with observers, and the implementation of the Alpine Convention mainly through practical projects. The new multi-annual work programme MAP 2023-30 has been developed in a participatory process and is to be complemented by a "roadmap" with implementation steps and "monitoring milestones".

Macro-regional Strategy for the Alps EUSALP

One of the most important issues in the Alpine Conferences 2012-2019 – the Ministers of Environment meet roughly every two years – was the strategy for an Alpine “macro-region”, EUSALP. This idea was based on the already adopted EU strategies for the Baltic Sea, the Danube region and the Mediterranean Sea region and strived for a similar strategy to strengthen the Alpine region, mainly economically. Furthermore the transnational collaboration should be strengthend and a better distribution and use of the existing EU-funding programmes should be reached. In contrast to the Alpine Convention 30 years ago, the alpine regions, especially the prosperous like Bavaria, Tyrol and Lombardy are the driving forces of the strategy. After years of complex and partly not transparent development of the contents of the strategy by different organs, EUSALP was adopted in 2015. In 2016 started the implementation with the constitution of nine "action groups", corresponding to the actions of the "action plan". They developed a programm and projects. 

The CAA fundamentally welcomed a strategy that could give the Alps greater importance within the EU and facilitate access to funding. It tried to participate actively in the process, e.g. in the public consultation in 2014 and the working group "macro-regional strategy" of the Alpine Convention, and developped already in 2011 a position, updated in 2014/15 . A reinforcement of the Alpine Convention was and is important. In the political organs of EUSALP, General assembly and executive board, the Alpine Convention takes part "only" as observer, but it leads the action group 6 which deals with the preservation of natural and cultural resources and watermanagement.

Further information:

EUSALP

 

Club Alpino Italiano
Alpenverein Südtirol
Deutscher Alpenverein
Liechtensteiner Alpenverein
Österreichischer Alpenverein
PLANINSKA ZVEZA SLOVENIJE
Schweizer Alpen-Club SAC
Fédération française des clubs alpins et de montagne