Toren Martinuskerk Weert, © CC FaceMePLS
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The Weert City Council wants to develop concrete plans to become a full-fledged partner in the Eindhoven Metropolitan Region (MRE), a crucial partnership for the development of the Brainport region. The city council overwhelmingly passed a motion to that effect last week. Already known as one of the three economic engines of the Netherlands, the region and the central government will invest another 2.5 billion euros in projects to promote facilities, infrastructure, and housing. Another effect of “Project Beethoven” is 22,000 new jobs for ASML and a multiple of that in the surrounding ecosystem.

While Weert’s participation in MRE may affect the local housing market, which is already under pressure, according to the city council, it also offers opportunities for cooperation in education and technology. The discussion on Weert’s admission to the MRE is expected to take place starting this summer. In addition to Weert, Meijerijstad (north of Brainport) and some municipalities just across the Belgian border have also raised their hands.

A strategic move for Weert

According to the city council, Weert’s ambition to join the Eindhoven Metropolitan Region is a matter of regional expansion and a strategic move to influence important decision-making processes. By being part of this cooperation, Weert can be directly involved in the planning and developing infrastructure and technological innovations that will benefit the entire region. This can be crucial to Weert’s future economic stability and growth.

Formally, the Brainport region is defined by the boundaries of these 21 municipalities in Southeast Brabant. “But in fact, the region is getting bigger and bigger,” Eindhoven Mayor Jeroen Dijsselbloem said recently. “Already, we are developing cooperation with municipalities in North Limburg. We are starting to talk with the Flemish government and municipalities across the border. We are also starting talks with Meijerijstad. We have to start expanding step by step. There is a practical reason for this. The public sector cannot keep up with the current economic growth. I am not saying that the economy in this region will always grow at this rate, but at the current rate, we are already struggling to stay close. So we need to expand the region. We need housing projects in a larger area.”

Opportunities for local development

Full membership in the MRE offers Weert a voice in larger economic issues and opens the doors for local development projects. This can lead to improved local facilities, educational programs, and employment opportunities, essential for attracting and retaining talent in the region. Moreover, collaboration with tech giants such as ASML can have significant spill-over effects for Weert and surrounding communities.

Challenges and considerations

Despite the potential benefits, integrating Weert into the MRE also brings challenges. Local politicians must consider closely how best to shape this collaboration without undermining Weert’s unique identity and needs. There is also the need to balance regional cooperation and local autonomy, a theme that has emerged during council debates on the subject for over a year.