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(08 April 2013)


On 11-12 April, Johannes Hahn, the EU Commissioner for Regional Policy, will be participating in the Energy Forum in Lech am Arlberg in the Austrian province of Vorarlberg.

What are the region’s priorities?

Vorarlberg borders Germany, Liechtenstein and Switzerland. The province’s picturesque landscape of mountains and lakes makes it a popular holiday destination. Vorarlberg has a little over 370 000 residents and is one of the most economically dynamic and prosperous regions of Austria. The region’s GDP per capita was 31.4 % above the EU average in 2009.

Despite its favourable situation and good economic performance, the region faces a number of challenges if it is to maintain its competitiveness and quality of life. These include:

  • Ensuring the productive use of research and development;
  • Preserving the quality of the environment; and
  • Breaking down the rural/urban divide in the region.

How does EU regional policy help?

Over the 2007-2013 programming period, the EU is investing around EUR 17.7 million in Vorarlberg. The EU funding is intended to attract in EUR 125 million through a combination of public investment at national level and private investors. 85 % of the EU funding has already been assigned to projects.

The priority axes for EU-funded investments laid down in the ‘Regional Competitiveness Vorarlberg’ programme include:

  • Bolstering innovation and promoting a knowledge-based economy;
  • Raising quality and technological standards in the key sectors of the economy;
  • Promoting the tourism sector;
  • Protection against natural hazards; and
  • Renewable energies and energy efficiency.

Together with Germany, Liechtenstein and Switzerland, Vorarlberg is also actively involved in the Bodensee cross-border cooperation programme

Examples of EU-cofunded projects:

  •  The Hirschegg biomass heat plant in the Kleinwalsertal valley is an example of the promotion of sustainability. In the plant, space heating is generated from renewable energy. 134 hotels, industrial establishments, private households and public buildings are connected to the network. It is planned to recover the energy from all the firewood accumulating in the valley in the plant in Hirschegg. The project results in annual savings of around 5 300 tonnes of CO2. The biomass heat plant received over EUR 3.2 million from the EU, the Austrian Federal Government and the province towards its overall costs of roughly EUR 11 million EUR within the framework of the EU’s regional development programme.
  • Bachmann electronic GmbH: Based in Feldkirch, Bachmann electronic GmbH is one of the world’s most innovative development companies. As well as marine and offshore projects, the firm invests in research and development in the field of renewable energies such as hydroelectricity, biogas and solar power. One of the research projects supported by the EU aimed to increase on-site functional safety in automation technology, and thus to improve the protection of people and the environment. Arrangements are being put in place to that end that also reduce the residual risk in the event of a fault considerably.
  • High Q Laser is a leading international provider of laser equipment for scientific, medical and industrial applications. This family firm has an impressive record of success in the field of research and development, with over 60 scientific publications and 70 patents to its name. The EU helped by providing EUR 121 000 towards the costs for the building of new premises.

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