An EU Strategy for the Alpine Region

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    Commissioner for Regional Policy Corina Creţu and Commissioner for Transport Violeta Bulc are participating to the Launch Conference of the EU Strategy for the Alpine Region (EUSALP). With the Strategy, over 70 million citizens will jointly address the economic, social and territorial challenges existing in the Alpine Macro-Region. The EUSALP focuses strongly on stimulating an innovative and sustainable growth model; the 7 countries of the macro-region will be able to step up a gear in their cooperation in the fields of research and innovation, SME support, mobility, tourism, environmental protection and energy resource management.

    This event, co-organised by the Commission and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Slovenia, brings together key stakeholders involved in the governance and implementation of the EUSALP, offering them the opportunity to express their views and ideas on the best working methods and efficient management of the Strategy.

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    The European Commission adopted today a new "Interreg" programme to foster cross-border cooperation between Italy and Austria, worth over €98 million, with more than €82 million from the European Regional Development Fund.

    The programme will support in particular cross-border cooperation between research and innovation institutions in the region. It will also protect and preserve the common natural and cultural heritage.

    This is the only European Territorial Cooperation programme which relies on community-led local development (CLLD) through an active involvement of all local actors.

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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.

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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