An EU Strategy for the Alpine Region

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    Today the Commission officially launched the EU Strategy for the Alpine Region (EUSALP), the fourth EU macro-regional strategy. More than70 million citizens will reap the benefits of a closer cooperation between regions and countries in terms of research and innovation, SME support, mobility, tourism, environmental protection and energy resources management.

    This macro-regional strategy concerns seven countries; five Member States - Austria, France, Germany, Italy and Slovenia - and two non-EU countries - Liechtenstein and Switzerland - overall involving 48 regions.

    Commissioner for Regional Policy Corina Creţu said: "Alpine regions have a long lasting tradition of cooperation, with a number of networks already in place, and the ambition of this Strategy is to strengthen this existing solidarity. It is the fourth macro-regional strategy in Europe; experience shows that their success highly depends on commitment and ownership. We therefore need strong political leadership and active involvement of all regional and national partners to fully exploit the potential of the EU Strategy for the Alpine Region.”

    The Strategy will focus on four key policy areas and could support the development of the following indicative projects:

    1 - Economic growth and innovation with, for example, the development of research activities on Alpine-specific products and services and the support to the Youth Alpine Dialogue.

    2 - Connectivity and mobility, with the improvement ofroads and railwaysand the extension of satellite access in remote areas.

    3 - Environment and energy, with the pooling of mutual resources to preserve the environment and promote energy efficiency in the Region.

    In addition, the Commission identified the need to build a sound and efficient governance model for the Region.

    The Commission hopes to see the Strategy endorsed by the European Council later this year.

    Further information

    The consultation process emphasised that tackling shared challenges and opportunities requires coherent, integrated and coordinated approaches on the part of the States and Regions involved. Neither unilateral national approaches nor sector-based approaches would suffice.

    Respondents of different capacities participated in the public consultation of the EUSALP. In particular private persons and representatives from the civil society responded to the survey, followed by public authorities. In total 330 contributions were received of which 198 on the website of the Commission and 129 on the Italian page of the EUSALP-website. the latter as follows: 54 in English, 64 in German, 23 in French, 51 in Italian, and eight in Slovenian. Residents of different countries participated in the consultation, including both residents of the countries in the Alpine Region, as well as other EU member states. All in all, 26 contributions came from Austria, five from Belgium, 38 from France, 44 from Germany, 194 from Italy, one from Latvia, four from Liechtenstein, one from the Netherlands, ten from Slovenia and eight from Switzerland.

    Result of the consultation

    Commissioner for Regional Policy, Corina Creţu joins Ministers and Regional Presidents in Milan today at a high-level stakeholder conference on the EU Strategy for the Alpine Region (EUSALP). The event, jointly organised by the Italian Presidency of the Council, the Lombardy Region and the Commission, gathers together some 1,000 participants form the seven participating countries (Austria, France, Germany, Italy, Liechtenstein, Slovenia and Switzerland) in this latest EU macro-regional strategy.

    Discussions will focus on the findings of an extensive on-line consultation with civil society and stakeholders across this mountainous region and its surrounds, which are home to 70 million people. The views expressed will also feed into a formal proposal and Action Plan to be brought forward by Commissioner Creţu in mid-2015, which will frame the activities of the fledgling Strategy.

    The three main issues which the EUSALP will address are: (1) Competitiveness and Innovation, (2) Connecting the Region and (3) Sustainable Management of energy, natural and cultural resources. Through this, the Strategy will contribute to creating prosperity and jobs for the region's population.

    Speaking ahead of the conference in Milan, Commissioner Corina Creţu commented: "The partner countries in this new Alpine Strategy are highly developed with competitive, market-oriented and specialised economies. Their citizens enjoy a high quality of life, as well as social and political stability. The EUSALP must capitalise on the efficiency and experience of these regions – both EU and non-member country alike, to ensure that no locality, region or resident is left behind in this renewed drive for prosperity."

    She added: "The Alps are one of the most famous and intensely-used mountain regions in the world. Their natural beauty and cultural assets must be enjoyed and preserved with care - and above all, with respect for the lives of the region's citizens. As a major crossroads of Europe's transport links, the Alpine region has become an environmental challenge. We need the political commitment of national and regional partners to work together, across borders, in order to ensure that policies are consistently designed to counter this congestion."

    The European Council of 19-20 December 2013 invited the Commission, in co-operation with the Member States, to elaborate an EU Strategy for the Alpine region, with a deadline for presenting a proposal set as mid-2015. The new Strategy should build on the positive experiences of the Danube and Baltic Sea regions.

    Further information

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The EU Strategy for the Alpine Region involves 7 countries: Austria, France, Germany, Italy, Liechtenstein, Slovenia and Switzerland.

It builds on the experiences of the already existing macro-regional strategies: the European Strategy for the Danube Region and the European Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region and the European Strategy for the Adriatic and Ionian Region.

The Commission adopted a Communication and an Action Plan on the EU Strategy for the Alpine Region on 28 July 2015 . This followed the invitation from the European Council in December 2013. It also took account – inter alia – of the on-line public consultation that was held in 2014, and the debates and discussions in the Stakeholder Conference on the EU Strategy for the Alpine Region (Milano, December 2014).

The Alpine region is one of the largest economic and productive regions in Europe where about 70 million people live and work, as well as it is an attractive tourist destination for millions of guests every year. However, it faces several major challenges:

  • Economic globalisation requiring the territory to distinguish itself as competitive and innovative
  • Demographic trends characterised by ageing and new migration models
  • Climate change and its foreseeable effects on the environment, biodiversity and living conditions of the inhabitants
  • Energy challenge at the European and worldwide scales
  • Its specific geographical position in Europe as a transit region but also as an area with unique geographical and natural features

Better cooperation between the regions and States is needed to tackle those challenges.

The main added value of the Strategy for the Alpine Region will consist in a new relationship between metropolitan, peri-mountain, and mountain areas.

According to the political resolution adopted by the representatives of the 7 Alpine States and 15 Alpine Regions in Grenoble in October 2013, the new strategy will focus on the following 3 thematic priorities:

  • Competitiveness and Innovation
  • Environmentally friendly mobility
  • Sustainable management of energy, natural and cultural resources

The Commission has encouraged Member States and regions to ensure that the Alpine Strategy is properly embedded in EU regional policy 2014-2020 programmes, as well as other relevant EU, regional and national policy frameworks.

As for the implementation, the Strategy will be based on the key principles applied for the existing macro-regional strategies: no new EU funds, no additional EU formal structures and no EU legislation, while relying on a coordinated approach, synergy effects and a more effective use of existing EU funds and other financial instruments. The aim is to produce a clear added value based on jointly identified objectives.

To get in contact with the team in DG REGIO please send an e-mail to REGIO D1 TRANSNATIONAL AND INTERREGIONAL COOPERATION