Europe's Macroregional Experiment: the first Evaluation
Today the European Commission has published the first study to weigh up the success of the EU's two macro-regional strategies and to provide recommendations for the future.
The EU's Danube and Baltic Strategies, involving over 20 EU and non EU countries, have pioneered a unique kind of cooperation, based on the idea that common challenges faced by specific regions –whether environmental, economic or security related – are best tackled collectively, and that it makes sense to plan together for the most effective deployment of the funds available.
The report delivers a broadly positive verdict on the existing strategies so far. It highlights how they have created hundreds of new projects and helped to formulate joint policy objectives in areas of vital importance for the regions involved. The macroregional approach has also led to numerous joint initiatives and networks, as well as political decisions at collective level.
The report says cooperation between the participating EU countries and neighbouring non-EU countries has been significantly strengthened and that has resulted in more efficient use of the resources available.
But the report reminds governments of the need for political commitment and for making the strategies a priority across all relevant policy areas, ensuring they are embedded in future European Structural and Investment Funds programmes, as well as other relevant EU, regional and national policy frameworks. It also underlines the importance of administrative resources to deliver the objectives.
Concerning future macro-regional strategies, the report stresses that new initiatives should only be launched to address particular needs for improved and high-level cooperation. There must be readiness to translate political commitment into administrative support, and new strategies should clearly demonstrate the particular added-value at EU level.
Report from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions - concerning the added value of macro-regional strategies