An EU Strategy for the Alpine Region

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    The Interreg Alpine Space project PEACE_Alps has won the EU Sustainable Energy Week  Award 2018 in the public-sector category.

    Project lead partners Silvio De Nigris and Barbara Girardi from Region Piedmont were on stage on 5 June 2018 in the Charlemagne Building in Brussels, to receive the award from the hands of Miguel Arias Cañete, Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy. Silvio de Nigris thanked the project partnership: "Behind a cooperation project there are people. We can reduce carbon footprint by working with people who are determined to make change happen". 

    The PEACE_Alps project supports Alpine authorities in making the transition to a low-carbon area. The project is key to helping authorities overcome any barriers in implementing their strategic action plans - Sustainable Energy and Climate Action Plans (SECAPs). Although SECAP actions are local, teaming up in cross-border cooperation has helped to provide centralised technical assistance for all authorities. 

    The EU Sustainable Energy Awards recognise outstanding innovation in energy efficiency and renewables. Nominees/finalists are chosen from a shortlist of the year’s most successful projects for clean, secure and efficient energy. With prizes awarded by an expert jury and European citizens, the Awards competition highlights new ways to shape Europe’s energy future. 

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    Photo copyright: European sustainable energy week 

    Routes4U Project aims to enhance regional development in the Adriatic-Ionian, the Alpine, the Baltic Sea and the Danube regions through the Cultural Routes certified by the Council of Europe. The 30-month project (2017-2020) has been launched in the framework of the joint programme between the Council of Europe (DGII – EPA on Cultural Routes) and the European Union (European Commission, Directorate-General for Regional and Urban Policy). 

    The four EU macro-regions, covering 27 countries (19 EU Member States and 8 non-EU countries), are crossed by 25 transnational networks certified “Cultural Route of the Council of Europe” such as the Santiago de Compostela Pilgrim Routes, the Phoenicians’ Routes, the Hansa and the Olive Tree Routes. The Routes4U Project contributes to cultural cooperation and provides a transnational platform for regional and national stakeholders. In line with the Faro Convention (Council of Europe, 2005), the project also promotes the importance of local citizens and their strong connection with their heritage in the creation of a common European narrative. 

    Routes4U implements activities for the four EU macro-regions related to cultural heritage and sustainable tourism in view of regional development. Among the highlighted activities: Research and guidelines on sustainable cultural tourism, a digital platform to discover Cultural Routes landmark sites and less-known destinations in the EU macro-regions and the assistance of new cultural routes projects in view to the certification “Cultural Route of the Council of Europe”. 

    More information: www.coe.int/routes4u

    Interreg transnational cooperation programmes have been operational for more than 20 years, implementing actions in the framework of the EU Cohesion Policy. These programmes bring together European regions and cities that are located in different countries yet are sharing many challenges and opportunities due to their common geography, history, and culture. 

    The geographic and cultural similarities defining the transnational programme areas provide an excellent basis for cooperation. In transnational projects, actors from the private and public sectors, universities and civil society organisations work closely together to advance new or improved solutions designed to meet the most pressing needs of their populations. But what does that mean in real terms? What do transnational cooperation projects and their results imply for the regions, cities, and citizens? Whilst it is impossible to present the full scope, diversity and added value of transnational cooperation in just a few pages, the publication '10 Things to Know About Transnational Cooperation' aims at providing a flavour of what is the role and achievements of Interreg transnational/interregional programmes across Europe. 

    The document was prepared by an informal working group including representatives from Interreg transnational programmes and Interreg Europe, with the support and facilitation of Interact.

    European Territorial Co-operation 

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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