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REGION OF THE WEEK: RHÔNE-ALPES (FRANCE)

RHÔNE-ALPES

07/07/2011

What are the region's priorities?

The ‘Rhône-Alpes’ region is located in southeast France at the point of intersection between some of Europe’s major communication corridors. This enhances its competitive position. It is regarded as a highly dynamic region economically, and its GDP per inhabitant stood at 107% of the EU-27 average in 2008. It is one of France’s top-performing innovation regions, as illustrated by the presence of 15 competitive clusters across the area, three of which are global in terms of reach.

The region’s aim is to grab the top spot in Europe’s innovation league table. Certainly, the region has assets which it can utilise fully in sectors such as biotechnology, digital, electrical components, health and pharmaceuticals.

Sustainable development is another priority for the region, which has based its actions on four pillars: economic development, environment, social cohesion, and governance (e.g. involvement of ordinary citizens and stakeholders, information, training and education).

The ‘Rhône-Alpes’ region is co-founder alongside three other regions (Catalonia, Lombardy, Baden-Württemberg) of “Four Motors for Europe”, which involves efforts in the university, scientific, sporting and cultural fields.

How has EU regional policy contributed?

Innovation and sustainable development are the common denominators specific to the ‘Rhône-Alpes’ programme supported by Regional Policy for 2007-13. With the aid of European investment, 150 cooperation projects involving research and industry will be launched by 2013, and 1200 of the region’s most innovative businesses will receive support. In total, the programme represents European investment worth 334 million euro from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), structured around five main priorities:

  • innovation and knowledge-based economy (in particular, supporting small and medium-sized enterprises)
  • diversification and promotion of economic activities
  • environment and risk prevention (in particular, energy efficiency and promotion of renewable energy)
  • accessibility – transport and information and communication technologies (e.g. developing multimodal and environmentally friendly transport)
  • the Rhône as a centre of economic development and environmental protection (sustainable development strategy for the river and its basin)

The region is regularly hit by devastating, sometimes deadly, flooding. This is why the European Union is supporting the “Plan Rhône”, coordinated by the ‘Rhône-Alpes’ prefecture and also involving the regions of Burgundy, Franche-Comté, Rhône-Alpes, Languedoc-Roussillon and Provence-Alpes-Côte-d’Azur (MEMO/08/650).

 

Project examples

  • Two departments (Ardèche and Drôme) have joined forces to launch a project involving a major fast/ultra-fast broadband network designed to allow inhabitants in over 700 local districts, primarily in rural areas, to access information and communication technologies. PDF
  • The Rovaltain science and technology centre specialises in environmental toxicology and eco-toxicology. The aim is to study the long-term effects of pollution on living communities and on the environment. PDF
  • Implementation of a platform to store and generate energy from wood for districts on Mont Beauvoir. PDF
  • Promotion of the "Eaux vives du Pilat Rhodanien" aquatic centre, which is very popular with locals as well as with tourists passing through the area. PDF

The region is also involved in cross-border cooperation projects with neighbouring Switzerland and Italy and in transnational European programmes (Alpine Space, Mediterranean):

  • The "Géni'Alp" project with Switzerland aims to protect assets and people as well as biodiversity along mountain watercourses.
  • The centre of excellence for education and training (Pôle d’Excellence Education et Formation – PEEF)PDF with Italy’s Piedmont region is encouraging a cross-border dynamic through the development of youth exchanges.

 

Further information