Inspiring non-EU countries
EU China regional policy cooperation: Commissioner Creţu meets senior counterparts in Beijing and Zhengzhou
From 16-18 July 2018, the Commissioner for Regional Policy, Corina Creţu, led a team from the Commission to China for the annual EU-China High-Level dialogue on regional and urban policy, which was held at the headquarters of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) in Beijing. She also addressed the Thirteenth High Level Seminar on “Regional Innovation and High-Quality Development of Regional Economy” held in the city of Zhengzhou. Since mid-2017, Zhengzhou has been one of 5 Chinese participants in city-to-city cooperation under the EU’s International Urban Cooperation (IUC) programme alongside 5 EU counterparts (www.iuc.eu).
At the High-level dialogue, NDRC was represented by Vice-Chairman, LIN Nianxiu. He said, “the EU dialogue on regional policy has been a model for other EU-China sectoral dialogues”. Commissioner Creţu and Vice-chairman Lin agreed that the regional policy seminar should be upgraded to a Forum in the main programme of the EU-China summit of 2019 in Brussels. Under IUC, it was agreed to launch a joint study on regional innovation strategies and policies and to add more cities on each side to city-to-city cooperation. The meeting concluded with the signature of a Joint Declaration by the current (2018) generation of EU and Chinese cities, witnessed by the Commissioner and the Vice Chairman.
At the seminar, Commissioner Creţu delivered the closing remarks alongside the Executive Deputy Mayor of Zhengzhou (and acting Mayor) and the Executive Vice Governor of Henan province, whom, earlier, she had met bilaterally. She said that the IUC is “the most ambitious effort to promote decentralised cooperation between EU regions and cities, and their counterparts across the world” and that the programme was about creating “an international community of cities”. She used the occasion to announce the launch of a competitive start-up fund under IUC to award technical assistance to selected high quality proposals leading to short-term actions within the city-to-city pairings. Two senior members of the European Parliament also spoke at the seminar, Mr Jan Olbrycht and Mr Lambert Van Nistelrooij where they underlined their support for international diplomacy at the regional and city level , and the importance of city-to-city cooperation under IUC. They were part of a group of MEPs on a fact-finding mission to China taking place at the same time as the Commissioner’s visit.
Commissioner Crețu in Beijing and Zhengzhou for the EU-China dialogue on regional and urban policy
From 16 to 19 July, Commissioner for Regional policy Corina Crețu is in China. Monday in Beijing, the Commissioner will participate in the annual EU-China High Level Regional Policy Dialogue with Vice-Chairman of National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) of the People's Republic of China, Mr Lin Nianxiu. On this occasion, and in the context of the EU’s new International Urban Cooperation programme, five joint declarations are planned for signature between Chinese and European cities: Kunming and Granada (ES); Haikou and Nice (FR); Yantai and Rome (IT); Liuzhou and Barnsley (UK) and Weinan and Reggio Emilia (IT).
Wednesday in Zhengzhou, Commissioner Creţu will deliver the closing remarks at the EU–China High Level Forum: Innovation for Green and Smart Cities, a side event in the EU-China Summit taking place on 16-17 July in Beijing.
"My visit to China symbolises our excellent cooperation on regional and urban development policy over the last 12 years," said Commissioner Creţu, "Under our International Urban Cooperation Programme, EU and Chinese cities exchange best practices and develop solutions to tackle common challenges linked to urbanisation, with commitment and hard work on both sides."
The dialogue with China on regional policy was launched in 2006. Since then, both sides have met annually in 'High-Level Meetings' and agreed joint statements setting out work priorities.
In the international relations arena, the Directorate General for Regional and Urban Policy acts in support of, and in cooperation with the External Relations family of Directorates General (European External action Service EEAS and DEVCO) and with DG TRADE. There is a growing interest in different parts of world in the process of European integration, not just from an institutional point of view but also in terms of the policies that promote European cohesiveness. First and foremost among the latter is European regional policy which seeks to ensure that the benefits of the single market in Europe based on the free movement of goods and services, labour and capital, are as widely spread as possible.
Principal among the features of EU regional policy that are of interest to third countries such as China, Russia and Brazil, as well as to international organisations such as MERCOSUR and ASEAN, are the financial dimension and the geographical targeting of resources between Member States and regions; the geographical and strategic objectives; and the different dimensions of the implementation system. So far as countries in the European Neighbourhood are concerned the EU wishes to promote key concepts of EU regional policy such as open markets, respect for the environment, participative democracy and partnership in the conception and implementation of development policy.
This interest comes at a time when the policy has undergone substantial changes. In effect, EU regional policy today is a means of delivering the Union's policy priorities across its territory. It does so by co-financing integrated, national or regional investment programmes, where the Union's contribution to the programmes is greatest in the least prosperous areas.
Today therefore, EU regional policy is an integral part of economic policy, but with the unique feature that it is delivered with the consent and involvement of the grassroots through a multi-level governance system where each level - European, national, regional and local - has a role to play. The involvement of the grassroots, for example, in devising regional and local strategies and selecting projects creates a sense of ownership of European policy and in that way contributes to territorial integration. It is these features that have inspired interest in large countries with major territorial imbalances that are seeking to combine the pursuit of a more even pattern of growth with governance systems that contribute to transparent public policies and that help to further integration through decentralisation.
As well as projecting notions of inter-regional solidarity and good governance, cooperation in the field of regional policy also provides the opportunity to project other values such as respect for the free market through competition, state aid and public procurement rules, for environmental rules and policies and for equal opportunities and minority rights. These create the framework conditions under which EU financial support is granted and provide positive incentives to achieving high standards in public policy.
Regional Policy Dialogues
The Commission, DG REGIO, has concluded formal agreements on regional policy cooperation with China , Russia , Brazil , and Ukraine , Georgia , Moldova , Chile , Peru , Argentina , Japan , Mexico , Sistema de Integracion de Centro-America (SICA) , Colombia . These countries are confronted with wide regional disparities as well as major challenges in terms of coordinating the different levels of government, and ensuring that decentralization can be achieved without compromising efficiency.