Inspiring non-EU countries

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    The Director General for Regional and Urban Policy spoke on 29 June 2015 at the EU-China Urbanisation Forum Partnership Forum in the afternoon plenary session on 'Cooperation, Innovation and Practices'. The plenary sessions had earlier been opened officially by President Juncker and Premier Li Keqiang.


    In Mr Deffaa's speech at the roundtable on "sustainable urban mobility", he drew attention to the many adverse effects of transport systems in Europe as they exist at present in terms of congestion, air and noise pollution and damage to health. He said, "We have developed many bad habits and implemented many bad policies over decades. We have to change; there is no other option."

    Earlier in a day which saw many activities relating to regional and urban policy, Walter Deffaa gave the keynote introduction to the 10th High-Level Seminar on Regional Policy Cooperation, which was a Side Event of the EU-China Summit, where he was accompanied by Mr Zou Yong, Deputy Director General ofRegional Economy in the National Development and Reform Commission, China and Mr Lambert Van Nistelrooij, MEP.

    Later, in the evening, a Joint Statement was signed "On Comprehensively Deepening EU-China Regional Policy Cooperation" by Mr XU Shaoshi, Chairman of the National Development and Reform Commission and Commissioner Carlos Moedas (acting on behalf of Commissioner Corina Creţu).

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    REGIO is cooperating with NDRC since the signature of the Memorandum of Understanding on regional policy cooperation in 2006 in Beijing. The dialogue has progressed well, giving rise to many actions including a yearly high-level dialogue and high-level seminar. At the 10th High-Level seminar of 29 June 2015 a comprehensive report on the cooperation on regional policy PDF was officially launched describing the many activities that have taken place, bringing benefits to the public and private sectors on both sides.

    The EU-China Urbanisation Partnership was launched by former President Barroso and Premier Li Keqiang in May 2012. The central event of the Partnership, the EU-China Urbanisation Forum, has taken place alongside the Summit.

    Additional information the EU-China Summit:

    Additional information on EU-China cooperation on regional policy:

    Regional Policy Commissioner, Corina Creţu, met Mr HE Lifeng, Executive Vice-Chairman of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) in Brussels on Tuesday 23 June. Mr He Lifeng was leading a Chinese Delegation to the annual High Level Dialogue with REGIO, an event which takes place in the framework of the Memorandum of Understanding signed between REGIO and NDRC in 2006. 

    Mr He's visit is supported by the European Parliament's "World Cities" preparatory action which is managed by REGIO. The delegation is spending one week in Europe including regional visits to the Flanders ERDF Programme and to Dublin, Ireland. Mr He also met Jan Olbrycht, MEP, a leading sponsor in the European Parliament of the "World Cities" action.

    Commissioner Creţu underlined the importance of the EU-China relationship in regional policy cooperation which has yielded many tangible benefits in developing mutual understanding and promoting exchanges of experiences and good practices, while helping to generate opportunities for the private sector on both sides. Mr He Lifeng drew attention to future cooperation on regional policy which he placed in the context of the "New Normal" policy in China. New Normal foresees somewhat slower growth than over the past decade, with an emphasis on quality and added value in the economic structure and on the promotion of innovation through business start-ups and business transformation. Commissioner Creţu and Vice-chairman HE witnessed the signing of Memoranda of Understanding between five city pairings participating in the EU-China part of the World Cities project. The cities concerned have drawn up a list of key sectors where the development of joint projects is foreseen. The signatories to Memoranda were as follows:

    • SUN Guanghui, Executive Party Secretary, Shantou City with Daniel Gonzalez Bootello, Director General, Andalucia Smart City
    • XIE Ruiwu, Deputy Mayor, Chengdu Municipality with Michael Sands, Deputy Director for International Relations, Dublin City Council
    • NI Zilin, Deputy Secretary General, Wuhan City Government with Amadeo Jensana, Director of Economic Programmes and Cooperation, Casa Asia
    • LI Hongwei, Vice-Chairman, Administrative Committee of Guangzhou Development District (“GDD”) with Philip Edward Bailey Atkins, Leader, Staffordshire County Council
    • An Limin, Vice General-Director, Tianjin Development and Reform Commission with Carlo Rossi, Director for Decentralised Cooperation, Regione Lazio

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International Affairs

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 Memoranda of Understanding on regional policy cooperation with China PDF EN zh, Russia PDF EN EN, Brazil PDF EN EN, and Ukraine PDF EN Ukrainian, Georgia PDF EN, Moldova PDF EN, Chile PDF EN es, Peru PDF EN es, Argentina (in progress), Japan PDF EN, Mexico PDF EN es, Sistema de Integracion de Centro-America (SICA) PDF EN es, Colombia PDF EN es. 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.

Brochure : European Regional Policy, an inspiration for Countries outside the EU?

November 2009 - PDF en es fr hy ka mo pt Russian Ukrainian Chinese

Posters: PDF en