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REGION OF THE WEEK:

Lower Austria

Niederösterreich

07/09/2012

The EU Commissioner for Regional Policy, Johannes Hahn, welcomed representatives of the state parliament of Lower Austria to Brussels on 4 September to discuss regional policy in the next programme period 2014-2020.

With a population of approximately 1.6 million inhabitants, Lower Austria is the largest federal state of Austria by area and population. It surrounds the Austrian capital city of Vienna, borders the Czech Republic and the Slovak Republic and is close to the Hungarian border. Accordingly, it is very active in the field of territorial cooperation with its Czech, Slovak and Hungarian neighbours.

In 2009, the per capita GDP of Lower Austria was 2% above the European Union average. Lower Austria consists of central and peripheral areas. While the environs of Vienna enjoy a preferential economic situation and the majority of large and medium-sized centres (St. Pölten, Krems, Wiener Neustadt) are situated in the regions along the international traffic corridors – the Danube corridor and the South corridor –, the border regions in northern Lower Austria are in a disadvantaged economic situation.

What are the region’s priorities?

The Lower Austrian state government intends to reduce these differences and its main objective for the 2007-2013 programme period was to reinforce competitiveness in the disadvantaged regions and to boost the economy. To provide more detail, EU funds are being invested in the following areas:

  • Innovation and knowledge-based economy
  • Development of tourism
  • Improved environment, energy use and risk prevention
  • Strengthening of the border regions

The creation of 1,800 new jobs is planned, 200 of which will be in the field of Research and Development. A further 10,000 inhabitants will be connected to broadband Internet. Furthermore, an additional source will be developed for the generation of renewable energy with an output of 25 megawatts and greenhouse gas emissions will be reduced by 25,000 tonnes per year.

What contribution has EU regional policy made?

The ‘Strengthening of Regional Competitiveness in Lower Austria 2007-2013’ programme has been awarded EUR 291.2 million. EU funding amounts to EUR 145.6 million. This represents approximately 10% of the total EU funds invested in Austria within the framework of the 2007-2013 cohesion policy.

A European Territorial Cooperation programme is available in each instance for cross-border cooperation with regional neighbours in the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary.

In the Austria-Czech Republic programme, roughly EUR 107.4 million is available from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) until 2013, whereby the proportion for Lower Austria (LA proportion) is EUR 18.4 million.

In the Slovakia-Austria programme, a total of EUR 59.6 million (LA proportion: EUR 16 million) will be granted from EU funds by 2013.

European Union funds of EUR 82.2 million will be provided for the Austria-Hungary programme by 2013 (Lower Austrian proportion: EUR 4.5 million).

The programme focuses on the areas of innovation, competitiveness, integration, transport and sustainable development. Measures will predominantly be implemented in the areas of the economy, tourism, culture, training, human resources, environment, nature protection, transport and spatial planning.

Furthermore, project partners from Lower Austria can also submit project ideas for the European Territorial Cooperation programmes in the transnational and interregional areas.

Examples of projects

  • Wieselburg technology centre: ERDF contribution: EUR 1,150,000

    The Wieselburg Technology Centre is one of four technology centres in Lower Austria that specifically links training, research and the economy. The ‘Austrian Bioenergy Center’ (ABC) competence centre has developed a focus in the field of biomass. The research services and research premises have been expanded. A university degree course, product marketing & project management, and academic outsourcing of university places in veterinary medicine are also offered.

  • Construction, energy, environment cluster Lower Austria: ERDF contribution: EUR 5,600,000

    The cluster initiative is based on the field of economic strengths existing in the construction and construction materials sector, on expertise in the sustainable construction sector and on the strong energy efficiency market trend. The construction, energy, environment cluster stands for energy-efficient renovation of old houses, living comfort with a healthy indoor climate and multi-storey new constructions in passive house quality. It is a network for companies and experts, for the economy and research and for innovation and cooperation. It currently has approximately 200 cluster partner companies.

    The cluster initiative supports the networking of partner companies, facilitates technological transfer to companies, supports the development of innovative, future-oriented services or products by searching for partners or overseeing the project and thus actively contributes to increasing added value in the region.

  • City library in Krems: ERDF contribution: EUR 150,000

    The Krems city library had been in need of urgent investment for some years. When the building was leased out as office space, the city library was relocated to the Dominican monastery and the offer of the city library was also repositioned. Today, readers can find a comprehensive range of literature which encompasses all fields of knowledge and genres over a floor area of 435 m². Access to all areas is barrier-free. This means it is accessible by lift and is therefore wheelchair and pushchair compatible.

    The new library supplies approximately 30,000 media for loan by children and adults. PC workstations and online catalogues allow all visitors to research and work individually. Thanks to the incorporation of the archive of the city of Krems and the scientific and educational institutions in direct proximity, the city library and media centre has also become a research and further training centre in Krems.

  • Intercultural training for children and adults Austria-Czech Republic: ERDF contribution: EUR 956,875

    This project was executed within the scope of the programme for trans-border cooperation ‘Objective European Territorial Cooperation (ETZ) Austria – Czech Republic 2007-2013’ and its objective is to teach the Czech language in nurseries along the Austrian border and the German language along the Czech border through play. Children thus acquire a positive attitude to the Czech and German languages. Learning the Czech and German languages through play also unites parents of children on either side of the border and mental barriers are thus broken down which makes the project’s peace message apparent.

 

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