Commissioner for Regional Policy, Johannes Hahn has welcomed the European Parliament's vote today to endorse reform of the European Union Solidarity Fund (EUSF), strengthening the EU’s response to natural disasters across European regions.
Commenting on the vote, Commissioner for Regional Policy, Johannes Hahn said: "I welcome the European Parliament’s approval of a system that will work better and respond faster to help citizens affected by natural disasters. This is solidarity in action, sending a clear political signal, as well as genuine assistance, to rebuild and recover after economic and social damage to a region.”
The new rules which still need formal approval by the Council foresee a longer aid application deadline; a faster response time; a possibility of advance payments, and clearer criteria for “regional”, disasters - allowing the Commission to assess applications more quickly.
Since its creation in 2002, the Solidarity Fund has responded to 56 disasters across Europe including earthquakes, forest fires, drought, storms and floods. 23 countries have been supported with more than €3.6 billion.
The "EU Budget in My Country" pages on the website of the Directorate-General for Budget highlight key information on the use of EU funds in each of the 28 Member States. It also emphasises a number of projects and activities it finances in each of the countries.
The EU budget is mainly invested in large and ambitious projects that Member States cannot fund on their own. These projects cover a wide range of fields, from employment, energy, transport and infrastructure to research and education, environment, humanitarian aid and many other fields. The EU budget provides financial support to thousands of beneficiaries such as students, researchers, entrepreneurs,scientists, farmers, NGOs, towns, regions and many others. Most importantly, it creates opportunities that people would never have had without the financial help of the EU.
This year, the European Commission has awarded the European Capital of Innovation prize to Barcelona (Spain) for its use of new technologies to bring the city closer to its citizens. The awardnominates Barcelona as an "iCapital" able to inspire, encourage and nurture innovation for the benefit of its citizens. The monetary prize of € 500,000 will be further used to scale up and expand Barcelona's efforts on innovation.
Barcelona unleashed its innovative potential thanks as well to projects financed by the European Regional Development Fund. Under the Catalan Operational Programme 2007-2013, the ERDF has financed two successful projects in the field of new technologies in Barcelona.
A first investment of EUR 3.3 million was allocated to the "E-JUSTICIA.CAT" project for the analysis, design, development and implementation of a new information system. Launched by the Justice Department of Generalitat de Catalunya, the project allows the Ministry of Justice to connect online with other administrations (police, hospitals, prisons), lawyers and citizens. As a result, citizens are able to receive information or request a simple procedure online.
The second project XALOC consists in the development of an ICT platform to detect free parking spaces and locate vehicles. The project is the result of a fruitful cooperation between private business, academic and researchers.
The European Capital of Innovation ("iCapital") Award acknowledges those cities which are making major efforts to promote innovation and improve the quality of their citizens’ lives. With this Award, the European Commission recognizes the role of cities as places of innovation, dialogue and mutual exchange.
The European Commission is now analysing the official Partnership Agreements (PA) received from 16 Member States and draft Cohesion Policy Operational Programmes (OP) from 9 countries outlining their investment plans for EU Structural and Investment Funds for the 2014-2020 programming period.
The PAs and OPs have come from:
- Polska: PA 10/01 and all 22 OPs submitted
- France: PA 14/01 and 14 OP submitted
- Latvija: PA 15/02 and their one OP submitted
- Portugal: PA 04/02 and 10 OP submitted
- Lietuva: PA 04/01 and their one OP submitted
- Slovensko: PA 14/02
- Suomi: Finland PA 17/02
- Deutschland: PA 26/02 and 5 OPs submitted
- Eesti: PA 28/02 and their one OP submitted
- Danmark: PA 04/03 and both OPs submitted
- Magyarország: PA 07/03
- Nederland: PA 10/03 and all 5 OPs submitted
- România: PA 01/04
- Malta: PA 01/04
- България/Bulgaria: PA 02/04
- Slovenija: PA 10/04
One ETC (European Territorial Cooperation) OP (NL-DE) has also been submitted
The Commission has underlined that a strategic approach to the use of the funds is critical and quality is more important than speed.
The 12 remaining official Partnership Agreement proposals are to be submitted to the Commission by 22 April, for adoption as soon as possible so that programme funding can begin.
Portugal on the Path to Growth and Jobs: European Funds and Programmes supporting the Portuguese Economy
The European Commission is organising today a conference in Portugal on the future prospects for growth and jobs in the country and the importance of European funds and programmes to boost the Portuguese economy. The event is opened by President José Manuel Barroso and the President of the Republic Anibal Cavaco Silva. Portuguese Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho will close the conference.
Commissioner for Regional Policy, Johannes Hahn is also participating in the event together with Vice-President and Commissioner for Industry and Entrepreneurship, Antonio Tajani, Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth, Androulla Vassiliou, Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Maria Damanaki, Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion, Laszlo Andor and the Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Dacian Ciolos.
Portugal has received over €70 billion in Cohesion Policy funding since it joined the EU in 1986. This funding enabled the country to invest in sectors which have been key to Portugal's economic growth. For 2014-2020, Portugal has been allocated around €21.46 billion for Cohesion Policy, which will be used to further increase economic competitiveness, improve entrepreneurship, boost innovation and tackle unemployment.
The event takes place this afternoon at 2 pm at the Great Hall of the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation in Lisbon. Participants may follow the online discussions via the official hashtag # PTCrescimento.
Protecting the use of EU investments in Bulgaria: European Commission, national authorities and civil society join forces
A seminar to improve governance and ensure safe spending of the EU Structural and Investment (ESI) Funds will take place today in Sofia. The European Commission is hosting the event together with the Bulgarian authorities and leading campaign group Transparency International Bulgaria. The seminar will showcase tools and instruments to support management of the funds and discuss concrete measures on how to build administrative capacity and train national officials for a successful delivery of the Funds. They will also focus on measures to prevent fraud and corruption which deprives citizens of the real benefits of EU investments.
In the current period 2014-2020, EU Cohesion Policy will invest €7.6 billion in Bulgarian regions.This represents almost 70% of total national public investment. The new financial period puts more emphasis on an improved governance and capacity in the management of the Funds to achieve the greatest possible impact. Under the new rules, for the first time, there is an explicit requirement for national authorities to put in place proportionate fraud prevention measures identifying and tackling potential risk areas. This is very important because according to the latest Eurobarometer and Transparency International surveys, the majority of Bulgarian respondents (84 %) think corruption is widespread in their country.
The seminar is one in a series of events that the Commission is organising to support the EU Member States in making the most out of the ESI Funds. Representatives from the EU Institutions, Bulgarian authorities and civil society organisations will share experiences and good practices examples on how to empower public administration and ensure safe implementation of the Funds.
Turning Cities into Centres of Opportunity: Commissioner Hahn Shares EU Experience at World Urban Forum in Medellin
Commissioner Johannes Hahn, responsible for Regional and Urban Policy, has told the World Urban Forum in Medellin, Colombia that cities can no longer be an afterthought in policy making, but an explicit priority.
Representing the EU at the event, which is organised by UN-Habitat the United Nations' Human Settlements Programme, Commissioner Hahn was addressing more than 80 national ministers at a special roundtable event.
He said: "Creating decent living and working conditions for the people of the 21st century, is increasingly a challenge that must be tackled in cities. My message today is that if we are to succeed, we need really effective multilevel governance, to bring the international, the national and the city level together. I believe there is no one single model for the cities of tomorrow, but we can learn from each other. "
"Today, nearly three quarters of our 500 million inhabitants in the EU live in cities. We are the second most urbanised continent behind Latin America, though our cities are smaller on average and tend to be more evenly spread across our territory. "One of my priorities as European Commissioner has been to develop the effectiveness of our urban policies. In the EU we are following a strategy – called Europe 2020 - that attempts to build smart, inclusive and green growth. It is clear that Europe 2020 cannot be implemented without cities. It is in the centres of population that the strategy will be rolled out, and if we do not succeed in cities, we will not succeed at all. "
"Co-ordinating action in cities is a challenge inside every administration. No one can afford the luxury of operating along sectorial lines with individual ministries or departments acting separately. To create cities of opportunity, we must do better. Furthermore, cities themselves must be given a bigger voice. I have argued to give cities more say in the programming of European funds. And, beyond this, I believe they should be more present in national and international debates on human development. The cities are at the sharp end, and we should listen to them."
"Together – from the global to the local level -we have to ensure that cities are no longer an afterthought in our policy making, but an explicit priority."
For full speech click here
For more information, please see IP/14/379
The Winter edition of Panorama magazine takes as its theme the reformed Cohesion Policy 2014-2020 and analyses the details of what this means for all stakeholders. In an exclusive interview European Commission President Barroso outlines how the reformed Cohesion Policy will help create growth and jobs and achieve the objectives of the Europe2020 Strategy.
Our readers also contribute to the debate in an expanded "In Your Own Words" section where representatives from Member States, regions and associations across Europe share their thoughts on the reform and their hopes for the new funding period.
Elsewhere in this issue we outline the key points of the reform and the thematic priorities; describe the budget approval process from the European Parliament's point of view; provide information on how to apply for funding and a review of communications strategies and obligations. You will also find the usual selection of news items and featured projects from across the EU.
Sharing European cities’ experience with the world: Commissioner Hahn attends World Urban Forum in Medellin
EU Commissioner for Regional Policy Johannes Hahn will represent today and tomorrow the European Union at the 7th edition of the World Urban Forum in Medellin, Columbia. He will share the lessons learnt in Europe's cities when tackling the common challenges of pollution, poverty, sustainable mobility and social equity with around 80 ministers from all around the world.
Speaking ahead of the conference, the Commissioner said "There is no one single model for well-functioning cities; but the common ingredients include: a commitment to equality of opportunity, job creation, boosting innovation and an efficient use of natural resources; also, a drive to improve the quality of life for young and old, men and women alike. We need a holistic approach to develop cities that people want to live in and our experience in Europe has shown that they are built on the foundations of good governance and democracy”.
The World Urban Forum is the World's premier on Cities, a non–legislative technical forum convened by UN-Habitat in a different city every two years, to examine the most pressing issues in the world today in the area of human settlement.
UN-habitat is the United Nations Human Settlements Programme mandated by the UN General Assembly to promote socially and environmentally sustainable towns and cities. It is the focal point for all urbanization and human settlement matters within the system of the United Nations.
The European Commission has approved three major investments of € 389.4 million from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) that will help Greece's recovery by modernizing the entire public administration, getting both the secondary and primary education systems online and extending high speed internet coverage to more than 600,000 people living in rural and remote areas.
These three Information and Communication Technology projects will bring substantial benefits for citizens and are expected to create more than 1100 jobs during their implementation, with 280 permanent jobs created once the projects are fully up and running.
EU Commissioner for Regional Policy Johannes Hahn who approved the 3 separate investments said, "We expect more than 825,000 schoolchildren to benefit from these investments in new technology in education. A modern, better functioning public administration and connected rural and remote areas to high speed internet will all make a real and positive difference to citizens and businesses in Greece. These projects show how EU Regional Policy is investing in the future: in people and business. They will help boost growth and jobs in Greece and also help bring about a more modern and more efficient public administration in Greece. These investments will stimulate the domestic ICT market - a real driver for growth. The improvements in efficiency that these projects will bring will also mean real savings in operating costs. That is very welcome at a time of extremely tight budget constraints for Greece. I now invite the Greek authorities to ensure that these projects are well and efficiently implemented."
A Polish initiative supporting sustainable urban transport has been honoured at the RegioStars 2014 Awards Ceremony as one of Europe's most promising and innovative regional projects. The initiative from Gdynia (Poland) will be recognised in the ‘CityStar’ category.
The development of pro-ecological public transport in the Tri-city metropolitan area (Gdynia, Gdańsk and Sopot) in the Polish region of Pomorskie has reduced travel times, increased passenger numbers and brought benefits to the environment, residents, and the local economy.
“The RegioStars Award is a great success and distinction for the city of Gdynia and its trolleybus system. It has proved that the direction of development we have chosen, i.e. investing with the considerable support of the EU funds in the state-of-the-art, electric, low-emission, green and noiseless public transport is the right one. We are honoured, grateful and happy that the European Commission has appreciated our efforts towards
becoming an innovative and eco-friendly city of the future,” said Wojciech Szczurek, Mayor of Gdynia.
The joint investment by Gdynia and the European Regional Development Fund (about a third of the investment) into an upgraded trolleybus system has generated time and cost savings for operators and travellers alike, and substantially revived the image of public transport in the city. The quicker travel times could translate into economic benefits of approximately EUR 11.79 million.
Jamie Oliver thanks EU for supporting his award winning project for budding chefs "Fifteen Cornwall"
Jamie Oliver, the world renowned British celebrity chef, has stressed the importance of EU structural funds for his Fifteen Cornwall project that helps young people to become apprentice chefs.
The Fifteen Cornwall apprenticeship programme won an EU RegioStars Award on 31 March 2014 in the category "Inclusive Growth – Jobs for the Younger Generation. In a video message to the 2014 RegioStars Awards Ceremony, Jamie Oliver said:
"One big massive thank you goes to the European Regional Development Fund and the European Social Fund. Without you guys, Fifteen Cornwall would never have happened."
The ‘Art on Chairs’ project from Portugal has been honoured at the RegioStars 2014 Awards Ceremony as one of Europe's most promising and innovative regional projects. The initiative from the city of Paredes was recognised in the category ‘Smart Growth’.
For the ‘Art on Chairs’ project, 38 SMEs have joined forces and breathed new life into the northern Portuguese traditional furniture industry. This industry has for years been one of the most important economic activities in the city of Paredes, which has the highest concentration of chair factories in Europe and also accounts for 65 % of national furniture production. Following the initiative, which was supported by EU funds up to 85 % of the project budget, local SMEs now focus on the importance of design and create new attractive high-quality products.
“Being awarded the RegioStars is a great honour and pride to the furniture companies in Paredes. It is also the recognition for Paredes Municipality's commitment in pushing its main industry forward, promoting its economic development in an innovative way. Our aim is to transfer the universities' knowledge to the industry making the design a competitive and comparative production factor,” said Celso Ferreira, Mayor of Paredes.
Total investment for the project “Art on Chairs” was EUR 1 095 535 of which the EU’s European Regional Development Fund contributed EUR 931 205 from the Operational Programme “Norte” 2007-2013.
The BEACON project, has been honoured at the RegioStars 2014 Awards Ceremony as one of Europe's most promising and innovative EU-funded regional projects. The initiative from West Wales and the Valleys (UK) was recognised in the category ‘Sustainable Growth’.
The BEACON initiative is developing innovative technologies for bio-refining, a process using non-food crops to create biomass which can be used in products instead of crude oil. BEACON also supports companies in commercialising their research and exploiting intellectual property, and helps connect companies from varying industry sectors. Based on a network of scientific expertise including the Universities of Aberystwyth, Bangor,
and Swansea, BEACON creates new jobs in rural Wales, stimulating inward investment and promoting Welsh scientific excellence at a global level.
“We are delighted to win the RegioStars Award. This is international recognition of the importance of our innovative work. The concept behind BEACON has been driven by the two global challenges – energy security and climate change. Low carbon technologies including biorefining and industrial biotechnology will need sustainable supply chains that will generate economic activity and jobs, and it is these that provide the focus for the work being done at BEACON,” said Professor Iain Donnison, Director of BEACON.
Johannes Hahn, Commissioner for Regional Policy and Luc Van den Brande, former Committee of the Regions President have announced the winners of the prestigious RegioStars 2014 Awards to Europe's most promising and innovative regional projects. In this 7th edition of RegioStars, the Jury singled out 19 shortlisted finalists from 80 projects on the basis of four key criteria: innovation, impact, sustainability and partnership. 4 projects outshone the competition: in Paredes (North Portugal), Cornwall (UK), West Wales and the Valleys (UK) and the Polish region of Gdynia.
The winners for 2014 are:
- Category 1: Smart Growth - "Art on Chairs" More information on the project
- Category 2: Sustainable Growth - BEACON More information on the project
- Category 3: Inclusive Growth - "Fifteen Cornwall Apprenticeship Programme" More information on the project
- Category 4: CityStar - Ecological Transport" More information on the project
This year's event came at a crucial time as Member States are finalizing their strategic investment plans, the so-called "Partnership Agreements" on how to spend the European Structural and Investment Funds over the next seven years. The Awards Ceremony showcased the first projects reflecting the reform of Cohesion Policy.
Diverse Regions: Building Resilient Communities and Territories - Call for Papers for the Regional Studies Association European Conference
Diversity within regions is often considered one way to achieve sustainability and stability in economic growth and development. As a region’s social and economic structure becomes more diverse, it becomes less sensitive to external shocks. Variety in economic activities as well as divergent local cultures within the region is a source of regional strength and resilience. The concept of resilience has often been used in regional development to define robustness, strength, flexibility and the ability to respond to external shocks. Building resilient regions is seen as particularly important in the wake of the global economic crisis as a new source of economic growth. This objective is emphasized both by the OECD’s agenda for stronger, cleaner and fairer economies and by EU2020’s call for smart, inclusive, sustainable economies. The objectives in both agendas are complementary.
The Regional Studies Association European Conference 2014 on ‘Diverse Regions: Building Resilient Communities and Territories’ presents a timely opportunity to discuss these issues, to establish the need and nature of future research imperatives, and to address the concerns and challenges confronting policymakers and practitioners.
Contributions are invited which fit with the following themes, to collectively explore and discuss these key issues from a multitude of perspectives and with different theoretical stand points and with empirical observations from different parts of the world.
The European Commission, the Republic of Austria and the City of Vienna are organising the 3rd Annual Forum of the EU Strategy for the Danube Region, under the overall title "We grow together – together we grow", which will take place on 26/27 June in the Vienna City Hall.
The Annual Forum is the main event of the year for the Danube Strategy, assembling its stakeholders from the whole Danube area to give strategic direction, exchange and showcase opinions and experiences, and to discuss vital questions of the Strategy’s prospects and challenges.
The detailed conference programme (including the link for registration) will be available by the end of April.
In the meantime please save the date!
Currently over half of the world population lives in cities - over two-thirds of Europeans, and this share is set to rise to 75% in coming years. Cities are the hotbed of innovation and creativity, and they drive economic growth. But they also pose the biggest challenge in terms of climate change and energy efficiency, with pockets of deprivation, poverty and social exclusion. Neither Member States nor the EU can achieve their economic or social policy objectives without engaging with cities.
Commissioner Johannes Hahn has championed the cause of cities throughout his mandate and the recent reform of EU Regional Policy has made the urban dimension more central: it is expected that half of European Regional Development Fund investments for 2014-2020 will be made in cities and urban areas and Member States are obliged to invest 5% at the very least on integrated sustainable urban actions.
This episode of REAL ECONOMY puts Europe's cities under the lens, with their diverse dynamics and challenges analysed by Martin Powell, Global Head of Urban Development for Siemens. The Mayors of Lisbon, Rome and Venice, along with Commissioner Hahn also discuss the need for an EU Urban agenda. Meanwhile the 2014 RegioStars Award finalist and ERDF-funded ecological and sustainable trolley-bus project in Gdynia, Poland is presented as a model for sustainable urban transport. RegioStars winners to be announced on 31st March.
How Regional Strategies for Growth and Innovation can drive Europe's prosperity in 2014-2020: 3 European regions demonstrate how it can be done.
The regions of Catalonia in Spain, Skåne in South Sweden and l'Aquitaine in France have shown last Thursday what "Smart Specialisation Strategies" really mean in practice. The Regions were invited by the Cabinet of Commissioner Hahn to present their strategies to the Commission, as they are considered as leading lights for other regions on how they can create their smart specialisation strategies.
The Research and Innovation Strategies for Smart Specialisation (RIS3) is a strategic approach to economic development through targeted support for research and innovation. Before regional funds are invested in research and innovation, regions need to draw up so-called smart specialisation strategies. Each region has to focus on a limited set of priority areas, in which it already has a competitive advantage. These strategies will help regions to build on their particular assets and strengths. It should result in new ways of exploiting knowledge and new ways of doing businesses.
The success of Catalonia lies in the fruitful partnership between public and private actors. Though Catalonia has first-rate R&D centres and universities as well as a solid industrial tradition, it registered a lack of technology transfer. Consequently, connecting its research and innovation system to the existing business and industrial fabric is identified as the strategic priority in their "RIS3CAT – Research and Innovation Strategy for the Smart Specialisation of Catalonia". The resulting cooperation between companies and research institutes is identified as a driver for the economic transformation of the regional production system. This cooperation should ensure that investments in research and innovation are effectively translated into economic growth and job creation in the region.
In the case of Aquitania, three main sectors have been identified for the Smart Specialisation Strategy. The agri-food sector is considered the "sleeping giant", a traditional sector of excellence with very little innovation. The aeronautical subcontracting sector is the "hungry dwarf", while the start-ups are considered as the "goblins" that should be better supported. The Smart Specialisation Strategy in the region focuses on boosting innovation by adopting a method based on objectivity, transparency and inclusion. In order to advance on the path of smart specialisation, the Aquitaine region has set out selective rules and permanent mechanisms of supervision and control.
The main aim of the so-called IISS - International Innovation Strategy in Skåne is to become Europe's most innovative region in 2020. To strengthen its innovation capacity, Skåne focuses on the collaboration between universities, researchers and entrepreneurs. The process has identified three areas of innovation: smart materials, personal health, and smart and sustainable cities. The Skåne Research & Innovation Council was established as a long term guarantee of this innovation process. The Council which is not a regulatory body, is the main platform of discussion helping to unleash the big potential of this small region.
RIS3CAT - Research and Innovation Strategy for the Smart Specialisation of Catalonia, by Mr Albert Carné, Director General for Economic Promotion and Mr Miquel Barceló, RIS3 counsellor: Presentation
La stratégie de spécialisation intelligente de l’Aquitaine: méthodologie, thématiques retenues, gouvernance, by Mr Didier Dareys, Directeur des Grands Programmes pour le Développement Économique et l'Emploi au Conseil régional d’Aquitaine
The International Innovation Strategy in Skåne: Our Take on Regional Smart Specialisation, by Ms Filippa Arva Olsson, Managing Director of Skåne Regional Office: Presentation
Model demonstrator regions for developing modern cluster strategies : call for the expression of interest
Regional organisations are invited to take advantage of advisory support services offered by the European Cluster Observatory in view of better capitalising on the cluster concept for the renewal of their industries and the promotion of entrepreneurship and SME growth. The aim is to assist regions in designing modern cluster policies to take maximum advantage of the transformative power of innovation towards shaping industrial value chains, sectors and emerging industries. This informal call launched by the European Commission’s Enterprise and Industry Directorate-General is a chance for regions to position themselves as model regions for smart specialisation and cluster strategies. Six model demonstrator regions will be selected. Priority will be given to regions with the highest ambitions and best ideas to capitalise on cross-sectorial collaboration and innovation for their future strategies.
The first country seminar on anti-fraud and anti-corruption measures in European Structural and Investment Funds took place in Bratislava
On 13 March, the European Commission in co-operation with the Government Office of the Slovak Republic and Transparency International Slovakia, organised a seminar on the prevention of fraud and corruption in the European Structural and Investment (ESI) Funds.
The seminar is part of the preparations for the implementation of ESI programmes in the period 2014-2020. The legal framework for the new programming period contains the explicit requirement for authorities managing those funds to put in place measures for fraud prevention. Against this background, representatives from the EU institutions, Slovak national authorities and civil society organisations met to share experiences and discuss ways of safeguarding investments from possible misuse.
The key message from the event was that there should be a clear "zero tolerance" policy regarding fraud and corruption. The ESI funds are a significant proportion of public investment in Europe. In Slovakia it constitutes more than 80% of total public investment. It is important that this money is invested in sustainable growth and jobs and does not end in the wrong pockets.
The Commission stressed the importance of ensuring adequate administrative capacity of the authorities involved.The Commission also presented several new guidance documents which are intended to help managing authorities in assessing the risk of fraud and choosing appropriate mitigating measures. A separate workshop was organised to present a new IT tool called ARACHNE that allows identifying and monitoring risky projects.
The Slovak authorities presented the national measures that are currently in place for fighting fraud and corruption in the ESI funds, including the recently created National Strategy for the Protection of the EU financial interests and publication of the public contracts online. Additional measures are planned to be implemented to increase the transparency and impartiality of the project selection process. Transparency International Slovakia organised a session where several national good practice initiatives were presented in the field of fighting fraud and corruption in public procurement.
During the 13th and 14th of March, the Directorate General for Regional and Urban Policy organises a conference debate in Barcelona entitled "EU Cohesion Policy Supports the SMEs". Indeed SMEs are the backbone of our economy and have to be seen as an opportunity, especially for innovation and jobs creation. This conference debate will bring the opportunity to all stakeholders at national and regional level and of course to SMEs, to share their concerns and to bring up the main issues and gaps to improve support to SMEs.
In this context, Cohesion Policy has a key role to play for the 2014-2020 programming period to fill these gaps, especially on business support measures and access to finance.
The seminar will take place during one day and half. Besides the opening speeches, the seminar will be structured therefore around 3 themes:
- Importance of the SMEs in Spain and Europe; Adaptation of the productive system to higher added-value activities by enhancing the competitiveness of SMEs.
- Cohesion policy support in favour of SMEs and entrepreneurship (competitiveness of SMEs, presence in international markets, research and innovation).
- Access to finance for SMEs (revolving financial instruments).
In addition the conference will take place at the Sant Pau Hospital declared by UNESCO World Heritage Site. It was a fully functioning hospital until June 2009. Thanks to the support received by the Cohesion Policy (ERDF), it is currently undergoing restoration for use as a museum and cultural center.
On 31 March in BOZAR (Brussels), the Commission will reveal the RegioStars 2014 winners, awarding Europe’s most innovative projects having benefited from European CohesionPolicy support.
The objective of the RegioStars Awards is to identify good practices in regional development and to highlight original and innovative projects which could be attractive and inspiring to other regions. For this 7th edition of the Awards, the European Commission has received many excellent and noteworthy applications and the Jury has selected 19 finalists under four categories:
1 Smart growth: SME innovation
2 - Sustainable growth: Green growth and jobs through Bio-economy
3 - Inclusive growth: Creating jobs for the young generation
4 - CITYSTAR: Investments projects in sustainable urban public transport
An independent Jury will select the winners, who will receive the awards from the European Commissioner for Regional Policy, Johannes Hahn, and the President of the RegioStars Jury, Luc Van den Brande, at the ceremony in Brussels. The RegioStars Award Ceremony will take place at 19.00 (doors open as from 18.30) in Palais des Beaux-Arts (BOZAR), Rue Ravenstein 23, 1000 Brussels.
In March, 2014 a record number of EU-funded projects implemented in 2007-2013 open their doors to the public free of charge across Hungary to demonstrate the positive impact of EU cohesion policy on the lives of citizens.
Based on last year’s success, in 2014, instead of just one day, a series of open days will be organised at more than 50 project venues on four March weekends, with a full day dedicated to each Hungarian region. The event series will feature programmes with a spectacular centrepiece and press conference organised at one main venue per region.
The first whole-day event on 2 March was dedicated to Hungary’s Northern Great Plain region showcasing EU-funded projects like the LEGO palace in Nyíregyháza, receiving a record number of visitors.
EU-funded projects will be celebrated in the upcoming weeks with large-scale behind-the-scene programmes across the country from Szeged, through Pécs to Budapest.
What else could bring citizens close to the tangible results of EU cohesion policy than personal experience? One thing is sure: Hungary’s Open Days events have so far attracted considerable attention, highlighting the importance of EU funds across the country through excellent project examples. And there is more to come in 2014-2020…
For more information:
Europe is closing its innovation gap with the United States and Japan but differences in performance between EU Member States are still high and diminishing only slowly. At a regional level, the innovation gap is widening, with the innovation performance having worsened in almost one fifth of EU regions. These are the main results of the European Commission's Innovation Union Scoreboard 2014 and the Regional Innovation Scoreboard 2014. The overall ranking within the EU remains relatively stable, with Sweden at the top, followed by Denmark, Germany and Finland – the four countries that invest most in research and innovation. The countries whose position has improved the most are Portugal, Estonia and Latvia. Overall progress has been driven by the openness and attractiveness of the EU research system as well as business innovation collaboration and the commercialisation of knowledge as measured by licence and patent revenues from abroad. However, growth in public R&D expenditure was offset by a decline in venture capital investment and non-R&D innovation investment in companies.
For further information
European Territorial Cooperation and neighbouring programmes are celebrating European Cooperation Day on 21 September 2014.
Under the motto “Sharing borders, growing closer”, hundreds of local events will be held across Europe in the week leading up to 21 September, reaching out to thousands of people.
The campaign is coordinated by the INTERACT Programme with the support of the European Commission, the European Parliament and the Committee of the Regions.
The aim of the campaign is to communicate the achievements of European cooperation across borders to the general public.
European Territorial and external border cooperation programmes and stakeholders are invited to take part in the campaign.
Helping managing authorities in planning and deploying sustainable energy investments in buildings within their Cohesion Policy operational programmes – this is the main goal of the 'Financing the energy renovation of buildings with Cohesion Policy funding' technical guidance.
Tackling energy consumption in European buildings is vital. Nearly 40% of final energy consumption –as well as 36% of all greenhouse gas emissions – is attributable to housing, offices, shops and other buildings across the public and private sector. A major and sustained increase in public and private investment is needed for the European Union to meet its 2020 climate and energy targets. In the 2014-2020 period, Cohesion Policy funds will play a major role in the refurbishment of buildings with the allocation of a minimum of €23bn for investments in the shift towards to low-carbon economy, including energy efficiency and renewable energy use in buildings.
The guide informs managing authorities about the European requirements on buildings and energy efficiency, provides a list of good practice approaches and case studies, and explores the different financing mechanisms that managing authorities can use to support sustainable energy projects with the aim to launch large scale investments in the energy renovation of buildings and to attract greater levels of private-sector investments.
"Cities and Business" workshop at the CiTIEs conference: How business and cities can best cooperate for an integrated EU Urban Policy
Among the numerous workshops taking place at the CiTIEs conference in Brussels today, one on "Cities and Business" was chaired by Commissioner Hahn himself. EU Commissioner for Energy Policy Guenther Oettinger, Markus Beyrer, Director General of BUSINESSEUROPE, Martin Powell, Head of Urban Development at Siemens, Nicolas Blain, President of the EU Committee of the International Association of Public Transport and Chris Vein, Chief Innovation Officer at the World Bank were participating in the workshop.
They discussed how business can best be involved in the implementation of an EU Urban Agenda and how urban policy can better take into account the views of businesses. The Commissioner stressed that both cities and businesses have an interest in shaping effective developments and management of cities. They need to work closely together in developing an EU urban strategy that can be a model for other regions in the world. He added that EU Regional Policy funds in 2014-2020 will support an integrated approach of urban development in Europe, taking into account the social, economic and ecological dimensions.
"Commission President Barroso endorses the idea of an EU urban agenda and congratulates Commissioner Hahn on the CiTIEs forum to plot way ahead"
Commissioner for Regional Policy, Johannes Hahn, has opened the "Cities of Tomorrow: Investing in Europe" (17 – 18 February), which aims at shaping a future EU urban agenda.
Speaking to more than 700 stakeholders: ministers, mayors, representatives of municipalities and regions as well as urban experts, Commissioner Hahn underlined the importance of developing an EU urban agenda and putting cities at the heart of EU policy making. He said :
"I have been determined to raise the profile of cities during my time as Regional Policy Commissioner. Cities are too important to Europe to be treated as a side issue."
"We should not forget that cities are drivers of development, providing services and amenities for communities beyond their own boundaries. When we support urban development it helps the surrounding rural areas too."
"The aim of this forum is to ensure that the urban dimension of EU policies is strengthened. If we are to launch an EU Urban Agenda, that should be its purpose."
"Our discussions here are also a first step towards co-ordinating an EU response to the international debate. I am delighted to have Juan Clos – former mayor of Barcelona – here today to explain why UN-Habitat has asked the EU to contribute its experience of urban development to help cities around the globe. We should take this challenge seriously."
"For me, the key thing is that the voice of cities needs to be heard more clearly."
"European policy goals cannot be realised without the active participation of cities. So policy makers at all levels have to take greater account of the urban dimension."
"I believe an EU urban agenda could improve the quality of policy making – at EU and at national level and I am convinced that an EU urban agenda could make cities more clearly partners for EU and national policy makers."
Full text of speech available here
Giving Europe's cities a greater voice and putting the urban agenda at the heart of EU policy-making will be a key aim of the CiTIEs: Cities of Tomorrow: Investing in Europe forum in Brussels which takes place on February 17 and 18.
European Commissioner for Regional Policy Johannes Hahn is bringing together important figures in urban policy to plot the way ahead for a new EU Urban Agenda. With more than two thirds of Europeans living in cities, the meeting is designed to explore and debate ways to give cities a greater prominence when it comes to European policy, to make sure the needs of cities are better understood, and policies are more co-ordinated. It aims to highlight the key role cities can play in achieving wider European goals like tackling climate change, unemployment and social exclusion.
The discussion will centre around an issues paper prepared by the European Commission. A series of events will take place involving key actors including numerous urban experts, city associations, local authorities and representatives from national ministries.
- Press Release
- Full programme of “CiTIEs: Cities of Tomorrow: Investing in Europe” and issues paper on forum website.
- Video stock shots of Urban EU co-financed projects , along with forum video and photo coverage will be available on EbS.
- Urban Issues at stake
- Twitter: #eucities @EU_Regional @JHahnEU
Meeting with Foreign and Europe Ministers on 10 February in Brussels, Commissioner for Regional Policy, Johannes Hahn, announced a public consultation for July 2014 on the new Alpine strategy. After a formal Commission proposal, adoption should follow in Summer 2015.
Commissioner Hahn outlined to ministers of Italy, Slovenia, Austria, Germany and France as well as ambassadors of Switzerland and Lichtenstein, the key elements for success, stating, "I don't think we need to reinvent the wheel. We need to think carefully where the added value of such a strategy will be. We must make sure there is a certain concentration of our aims to guarantee a success and from the beginning we must guarantee there is adequate staffing".
The Commissioner added, "One of the chief characteristics of this forthcoming Strategy for the Alpine Region is that it has been an initiative of the regions themselves. Now it is extremely important to have a strong political commitment at national level as well." The Alpine macro-regional strategy would be the EU's fourth: after the existing Baltic Sea and Danube Strategies and the Adriatic-Ionian whose drafting was launched last week in Athens.
While more and more Europeans are living to a ripe old age and creating a host of opportunities through a so-called 'silver economy', the current demographic trends across the EU are also increasing the pressure on government finances, including spending on pensions, health and long-term care. Indeed current demographic projections reveal that the EU as a whole is moving from having four working-age people for every person aged over 65 years to just half that. As the share of older persons in the total population increases, this in turn will lead to an increased burden on those of working age to provide for the age-related expenditure required by the ageing population.
In the latest episode of euronews' Real Economy, this age-old challenge is examined, with the possible solutions offered by the EU put under the spotlight. They visit one ERDF-funded and RegioStars Awards finalist project in Finland: The 'Living Lab on Wellbeing Services and Technology' was a two-year project to test welfare services and technologies in real-life contexts, including old people’s homes. Focusing on three regions in Western Finland, it called on a partnership of public and private stakeholders to develop a new and innovative model to support independent living.
Euronews also speak to Sandra Polaski, Deputy Director-General of the International Labour Organization on how Europe compares to the rest of the world when it comes to the ageing phenomenon.
The next RegioStars Award ceremony – where 19 finalists battle it out for 4 category titles, will be held in Brussels on 31st March 2014.
In the context of the DG REGIO study on "Multi-level governance in support of Europe 2020" two multi-lateral meetings will soon take as follows:
- Governance in support of energy efficiency policies - Milan - 26-27 March 2014
- Governance of social inclusion in urban areas - Stockholm – 1-2 April 2014
The study, funded by DG REGIO and carried out by a consortium led by Spatial Foresight, aims to generate lessons from policy experiences and to stimulate learning and exchange between regions. Four case studies will be presented at each of the multilateral meetings in the presence of other interested regions. More details on the background to the study and the multilateral meetings is available in the Inception report
If you are interested in participating in either meeting contact: Frank.email@example.com
Approaching lift off: focus will be key to success of new EU macro-regional strategy for the Adriatic and Ionian
Preparations have reached a milestone for a brand new macro-regional strategy to support cooperation among 8 countries in the Adriatic and Ionian region. Hosted by the Greek Presidency of the Council of the European Union and the European Commission, a high-level Stakeholder Conference takes place in Athens on 6-7 February. It marks the end of a wide consultation that has involved civil society and stakeholders across the 8 countries. This will feed into a formal proposal later this year from Regional Policy Commissioner Johannes Hahn, for a tailor made strategy that reflects the needs and the capacities of the region. It follows a request from EU leaders in December 2012 to deliver the new macro-regional strategy by the end of 2014.
This is the first time in a macro-regional strategy that there has been an equal balance of EU countries (Croatia, Greece, Italy, Slovenia) and non-EU countries (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Serbia) working together to meet common challenges and build on shared strengths. Crucially in a region that has seen some of Europe's most serious conflicts, the strategy will help to bring the Western Balkans closer to the European Union. Its focus will be above all on blue growth, transport, sustainable tourism and protecting the environment. Through this, it will contribute to creating prosperity and jobs in the region.
The Maritime Strategy for the Adriatic and Ionian Seas, adopted by the Commission on 30 November 2012, is integrated in the Strategy which will be structured around four key areas: marine and maritime growth, connecting the region (transport and energy networks), environmental quality and sustainable tourism. In addition, capacity building as well as research, innovation and small and medium side enterprises will inform the four key areas.
The stakeholder consultations were conducted between September-December 2013. Two countries, a Member State and a non-EU country, were responsible for coordinating the consultation for each of the 4 pillars: Greece and Montenegro on marine and maritime growth, Italy and Serbia on transport and energy, Slovenia and Bosnia and Herzegovina on environment and Croatia and Albania on tourism. From October 2013-to January 2014 a general on-line public consultation on the strategy was also launched by the Commission.
Summary Report on the on-line public consultation on the EU Strategy for the Adriatic and Ionian Region is now available!
The Commission organized a general on-line public consultation on the EU Strategy for the Adriatic and Ionian Region in the period 25 October 2013 – 17 January 2014. The aim of the consultation was to gather ideas about the future actions and projects in the Adriatic and Ionian Region which could benefit from a macro-regional cooperation approach. The main results can be found in the Summary Report on the on-line public consultation.
- Summary report on the on-line public consultation on the EU Strategy for the Adriatic and Ionian Region
The Committee of the Regions has launched the 2015 European Entrepreneurial Region (EER) award which seeks to reward cities and regions with the most forward-looking visions in Europe. With applications being accepted until 31 March 2014, the 5th edition was opened by Mr Luc Van den Brande, (BE/EPP), Chairman of the Flemish-European Liaison Agency during the European SME Assembly in Vilnius.
The EER award identifies and rewards regions with outstanding entrepreneurial visions realised through concrete and measurable actions contributing to the implementation of the Small Business Act for Europe and making optimal use of public funding, irrespective of their size, wealth and competences. The regions with the most convincing strategy will be awarded with the label "Entrepreneurial region of the year". The aim of the initiative is to create and promote dynamic, green and entrepreneurial regions throughout Europe.
"SMEs are the driving force behind Europe's economic recovery. National, regional and local authorities must join forces to provide the right conditions for businesses to thrive. The EER initiative rewards European regions that are committed to creating environments where businesses can flourish. If you are ready to realise your region's entrepreneurial potential, I invite you to apply for the 2015 EER award", Van den Brande said.
The awarded regional strategy will be assessed over the following two years and the main results and achievements will be shared and discussed among regional and local authorities through the EER network.
The deadline for the submission of applications is 31 March 2014. The application form, a fact-sheet about the award, as well as further information, are available on the EER web page: www.cor.europa.eu/eer. For more information, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Commissioner Hahn tells MEPs on Partnership Agreements for 2014-2020: "We will not trade quality for speed"
Commissioner Hahn was speaking on 22 January to the Members of the Committee for Regional Development at the European Parliament about the state of play in planning new cohesion policy programmes for 2014-2020.
He underlined the importance of these documents which will put the reform in practice and make sure investments are focused on key sectors most contributing to growth.
He also stressed that due to the reform, the next period should see the amount of money aimed at economic promotion via support to Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises doubled from €70 to €140 billion. He said "The major change will be that the projects will follow the strategies, not the other way around. The Partnership Agreements are the tool to ensure that – we will not trade quality for speed."
Stakeholder Conference on the EU Strategy for the Adriatic and Ionian Region: NEW DEADLINE FOR REGISTRATION - 27 January 2014
There are only two weeks to go before the Stakeholder Conference on the EU Strategy for the Adriatic and Ionian Region, to be held in Athens on 6/7 February 2014!
Scheduled speakers for this high-level event include Johannes Hahn, Commissioner for Regional Policy, Maria Damanaki, Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, and Antonis Samaras, Prime Minister of Greece, as well as the Foreign Ministers of the 8 participating States.
REGISTER NOW and do not miss the opportunity to discuss the future challenges and opportunities for the Adriatic and Ionian Region on the following key areas: 1) Driving innovative maritime and marine growth, 2) Connecting the Region, 3) Preserving, protecting and improving the quality of the environment, and 4) Increasing regional attractiveness.
The Regulation establishes that each Member State shall submit its Partnership Agreement (PA) to the Commission within 4 months from the entry into force of the Regulation.
The Commission shall in turn make observations within 3 months of the date of submission of the PA by the Member State and shall adopt the Agreement no later than 4 months from its submission, provided that the Member State has adequately taken into account the observations made by the Commission.
This means that as a general rule, PAs should be adopted by end of August 2014 at the latest.
The Regulation establishes that Operational Programmes (OPs) shall be submitted by Member States at the latest 3 months following the submission of the PA.
The Commission shall make observations within 3 months of the date of submission of the OP and adopt the OP no later than 6 months from the date of its submission, provided that the Member State has adequately taken into account the Commission observations.
As a general rule, therefore, OPs should be adopted by end of January 2015 at the latest.
Regional Policy Commissioner, Johannes Hahn met the Brussels-based regional representative offices today. During the meeting, he underlined the importance of the partnership with Europe's regional and local authorities in planning and putting into practice the programmes under the reformed Regional Policy for 2014-2020. Speaking from the Albert Borschette building of the European Commission, Commissioner Hahn focused on how the new Code of Conduct on Partnership will mean that regional and local authorities are consulted to ensure that future strategies and programmes reflect regional needs and investments have maximum impact. Regional and local authorities will play a central role in designing, implementing, and monitoring investment. More than 230 representatives from regional offices and associations of municipalities from 21 Member States participated in the event.
Together with the Hellenic Presidency of the Council of the European Union, the European Commission is pleased to invite all interested stakeholders to a Stakeholder Conference on the EU Strategy for the Adriatic and Ionian Region to be held in the Hotel Divani Caravel in Athens, Greece on 6-7 February 2014.
The EU Strategy for the Adriatic and Ionian Region will cover eight countries: four EU Member States (Croatia, Greece, Italy, Slovenia) and four non-EU countries (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Serbia) and will integrate the Maritime Strategy for the Adriatic and Ionian Seas, adopted by the Commission on 30 November 2012. The fledgling Macro-Regional Strategy focuses on key areas for the region: 1) Driving innovative maritime and marine growth, 2) Connecting the Region, 3) Preserving, protecting, and improving the quality of the environment, and 4) Increasing regional attractiveness. An effective Strategy for the Adriatic and Ionian Region will increase co-operation between all the countries involved, help boost jobs and growth, and will also contribute to the EU integration of the candidate/ potential candidate countries in the Region.
The aim of the conference is to present the findings of an extensive consultation with stakeholders that took place from September to December 2013. The Conference will also encourage a debate with participants on the future challenges and opportunities from a macro-regional approach. This debate will support the preparation of the future Communication and Action Plan of the Strategy, which the Commission is due to present before the end of 2014.
Scheduled speakers at the event include Johannes Hahn, Commissioner for Regional Policy, Maria Damanaki, Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, and Antonis Samaras, Prime Minister of Greece, as well as the Foreign Ministers of the 8 participating States.
The public consultation on the EU Strategy For The Adriatic And Ionian Region extended to 17 January 2014
DG Regional and Urban Policy invites all those interested, e.g. private individuals, public organizations, enterprises, civil society, etc., to participate in this public consultation on the EU Strategy for the Adriatic and Ionian Region
The European Council of 13/14 December 2012 has formally asked the European Commission to present an EU Strategy for the Adriatic and Ionian Region before the end of 2014. The aim of this macro-regional Strategy is to promote economic and social prosperity, growth and employment in the Adriatic and Ionian Region by improving its attractiveness, competitiveness and connectivity. It may also play an important role in promoting the EU integration of Western Balkans.
The Strategy concerns eight countries: 4 EU Member States (Croatia, Greece, Italy and Slovenia) and 4 non-EU countries (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and Serbia). It focuses on areas of regional mutual interest, and it is structured around four pillars: (1) driving innovative maritime and marine growth, (2) connecting the region; (3) preserving, protecting, improving the quality of the environment, (4) increasing regional attractiveness.
The objective of this public consultation is to gather the ideas of stakeholders to ensure the Strategy is realistic, ambitious in its objectives, and responds to the real needs of inhabitants of the Region and the wider community. The contributions will be further discussed at the Conference organised in Athens, on 6-7 February 2014, and will support the preparation of the Strategy.
The public consultation closes on 17 January 2013, but contributions are welcome as soon as possible.
Greece has just taken over the reins of the European Council for the fifth time in its Union membership since 1981. In the Presidency's own words: 'The main objective is to balance the timetable of fiscal consolidation with the implementation of a substantially enhanced and realistic Compact for Growth and Jobs that can be transformed into a diverse European investment programme, modelled after the cohesion policy, with a focus on employment'.
The main principles which will guide the work of the Presidency are:
- Enhancing civic/social engagement in the EU, through policies and initiatives to boost economic recovery, employment, cohesion, mobility of EU citizens and European security.
- Deepening EU integration, especially the EMU, by promoting policies and actions to improve initial deficiencies in the Euro area architecture, which have been unveiled by the ongoing crisis.
- Reinforcing EU democratic legitimacy and accountability.
Elections to the European Parliament in May 2014 will also set the context for the Presidency. The full programme and priorities will be presented to the College of European Commissioners on 8 January.
The Committee of the Regions (CoR) and the European Commission Directorate-General for Regional and Urban Policy (DG REGIO) invite interested colleagues from regional offices, associations and EU institutions to the OPEN DAYS 2014 kick-off meeting. Secretary-General Gerhard Stahl (CoR) and Director-General Walter Deffaa (DG REGIO) will look together into lessons learnt from the 2013 edition and themes for 2014. REGIO and the CoR will present other events planned for 2014. The meeting can be followed live on the internet between 11:00 and 12:30 CET at www.opendays.europa.eu.
The latest episode of euronews' Real Economy focusses on the European dream of more competitiveness in an ever-shrinking and globalised world. Analysing how global trade actually works, it takes the example of the European giant, Airbus and how it is supporting Europe’s sluggish growth.
The close links between globalisation and competiveness are discussed with OECD’s secretary general, Angel Gurria, while both the attractions and hurdles of European markets are put under the spotlight. Finally a focus is on the French capital of Paris to explore why many multi-nationals are so keen on setting up camp in Europe.
The new rules and legislation governing the next round of EU Cohesion Policy investment for 2014-2020 have been formally endorsed by the Council of the European Union and will enter into force once published in the 'Official Journal of the EU'. Member States now move to finalising their strategic plans with investment priorities for regional development, following months of preparation. These Partnership Agreements are expected to be adopted in the early part of 2014.
Official Journal L 347 ( 20 December) contains the new Regulations
This was one of the key questions addressed by the evaluation report on "Good practices in EU Regional policy communication 2007-2013 and beyond", commissioned by Directorate-General for Regional and Urban policy (DG REGIO) which has just been published. The first part of the study identified recommendable practices in the Member States, while the second part analysed DG REGIO's own communication activities. A sample of good communication practices from 8 Member States were already presented to the participants of the Telling the Story communication conference on 10 December 2013. The report includes food for thought for EU funds communicators in the 274 regions but also for DG REGIO. The full report, including its annexes, is available on Regionetwork, where you are invited to discuss and comment its findings.
EU Commissioner for Regional Policy, Johannes Hahn, has approved today EU financial support worth € 2.97 billion to allow the building of four motorways in Greece. Following the positive vote in the Greek Parliament Commissioner Hahn said: "I am pleased to approve these investments among the most important infrastructure projects in Greece – which will be central to the country's economic recovery, connecting its regions with fast and safe motorways."
The motorways have been identified as "priority projects" by the European Commission and the Greek authorities: key to creating jobs and to the development of the country and its regions.
It is expected that more than 6 000 jobs will be created during the building of the motorways. The projects should be completed by the end of 2015, with around 1 700 people then employed in managing them. The Commission has also found that the financial support granted by Greece is in line with EU state aid rules.
811 participants from 28 Member states came together in Brussels earlier this week to discuss how to better communicate the ESI Funds. The conference aimed to
- debate how to better tell the story of Europe,
- boost collaboration between EU, national and regional officials involved in communicating about ESIFs,
- provide a sound basis for the communication strategies that will accompany ESI Funds programmes during the 2014-2020 funding period, and
- share good practices in communication and facilitate mutual learning between different countries and funds.
The event brought together communication officers from national and regional authorities, heads of managing authorities, journalists, EU networks like Europe Direct, and colleagues from EU institutions. This conference was innovative in three ways:
1) for the first time a communication conference about EU funds was jointly organised by 4 Commission departments: the Directorates-General for Regional and Urban policy; Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion; Agriculture and Rural Development; and Maritime Affairs and Fisheries.
2) participatory methods were used in most of the 24 workshops to make the discussions interactive and relevant to the participants’ needs and;
3) visual harvesting maps were prepared to capture the essence of the debates in an intuitive way.
Photos, videos, social media highlights and the presentations are available on the conference website. A visual summary of the conference will be published early next week.
Improving competitiveness is one of the big challenges facing the European Union as it continues on the road to economic recovery. The reformed Cohesion Policy is therefore obliging Member States and regions to invest in this area, with a special focus on SMEs. The latest episode of euronews magazine, 'Real Economy' teases out the meaning of competitiveness in its purest sense – for both companies and for countries, and why it is essential for Europe, if it is to stay a main player on the global stage.
The episode features competitive efforts in both Amsterdam and Brussels, presenting the oldest chocolate company there, Leonidas and examining its competitive edge. President of Business Europe and Co-CEO of the Marcegaglia Group, Emma Marcegaglia, is also interviewed to get her analysis of Europe’s competitiveness issues in the context of the global economy.
While public attitudes towards the European Union are suffering a downward trend in recent EU-wide surveys, perceptions of the positive impact of EU regional investment continue to grow.
This broad support for the EU’s main investment policy was upheld in Flash Eurobarometer 384, published today, on “Citizens’ awareness and perception of EU Regional Policy”. Of those people aware of the investment in their area, more than three‑quarters expressed confidence in the positive impact of co-financed projects on the economic and social development of their region or city.
The general awareness of the Policy remains at 34% compared to a similar survey carried out in 2010. Awareness is highest in Poland (80%), followed by Lithuania and the Czech Republic (with 67% each).
Television remains the leading source of information about EU Regional Policy co‑financed projects overall, while in countries such as Germany and Finland, local and regional newspapers play a central role. In Ireland and Hungary, billboards were cited as the main initial information source. Meanwhile, the internet was identified as the main source for young people aged 15-24.
The report highlights the necessity and value of EU Regional Policy Managing Authorities and Beneficiaries communicating achievements and telling the story to citizens, in parallel with the European Commission.
- Flash Eurobarometer 384: “Citizens’ awareness and perception of EU Regional policy”: Summary report (22 pages)
- Flash Eurobarometer 384: Full report (67 pages)
The survey was conducted by the TNS Political & Social network in the 28 Member States of the European Union between 23 and 25 September 2013. Some 28,065 respondents from different social and demographic groups were interviewed via telephone (landline and mobile) in their mother tongue on behalf of the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Regional and Urban Policy.
Sharing experience on anti-fraud and anti-corruption measures in relation to the use of European Structural and Investment Funds
The Conference on anti-fraud and anti-corruption measures in relation to the use of European Structural and Investment Funds, which was organised by DG REGIO in co-operation with other Commission services, took place on 3 December in Brussels. The event brought together more than 400 participants representing managing authorities, audit authorities, specialised anti-corruption bodies and civil society organisations from all EU Member States.
The objective of the conference was to showcase some tools and instruments which can help to raise awareness and identify fraud and corruption related risks. During the conference, good practice examples for mitigating fraud and corruption linked to the management of the EU funds were discussed. The timing of the conference could not have been better, as the new rules for the five European Structural and Investment Funds require authorities managing those funds to put more emphasis on effective and proportionate anti-fraud measures, identifying and tackling potential risk areas.
During the conference, Transparency International released its 2013 Corruption Perceptions Index that measures the perceived levels of public sector corruption in 177 countries. The Index rates the countries on a scale from 0 (highly corrupt) to 100 (very clean).
By international standards, the EU Member States continue to perform relatively well. Some of the top performers are from the EU, such as Denmark at place one with the highest score, followed by Finland and Sweden. In countries which score the lowest according to the Corruption Perception Index, the Commission will organise tailor-made seminars.
On Wednesday 4th December, The European Commission will participate in the launch of a significant public consultation on Croatia’s future investment priorities, in order to make the most of EU Funds for the 2014-2020 budgetary period.
The online consultation, which is open to the public for 2 months, is the biggest of its kind in Croatia. European Commission Deputy Director Normunds Poppens for Regional and Urban Policy will be in Zagreb to support the consultation process which will be integrated into the investment strategy for EU funds 2014-2020 period in the newest EU Member State. It will contribute that spending priorities not only respond to the development needs of the country in a focused and strategic way, but also fit into the delivery of the EU’s overall goals of smart, inclusive and green growth for all.
Commenting on the launch, Commissioner for Regional Policy Johannes Hahn said: “This is a vital step in setting up a continuous partnership and two-way communication channel with all interested partners. I urge Croatian citizens to have their say and help shape the future of investments in their regions. Our experience shows that partnership significantly improves the quality and the implementation of public policies”
The European Commission is welcoming the continued efforts of the Croatian administration in the preparation of implementation of EU Cohesion Policy for 2014‑2020. The EU will channel must needed investment into Croatia, which can help address the social and economic challenges facing the country, if implemented with a strategic and joined-up approach.
Strategies are a pre-requisite for a clear focus in using the EU Funds, for example for innovation, for the transport sector or for environmental investments. Water and waste strategies are clear priorities for a sustainable management of resources in Croatia. The European Commission is welcoming the progress in the implementation of modern waste management centres, such as the one being built in Kaštijun in Istarska County.
With a total cost of just over €35 million and an EU contribution of over €25m, the Kaštijun project aims to introduce a sustainable and integrated waste management system in the county of Istria, reducing the reliance on landfill. Over 200 000 residents in the county area will benefit from this development with a long-term positive impact on their quality of life.
The construction of the Kaštijun waste management centre is already underway, including a wastewater treatment plant and a recycling yard, with opening planned for late 2014.
As preparations for implementation of the reformed Cohesion Policy are heating up in the EU's Member States and regions, euronews magazine, 'Real Economy' puts the spotlight on innovation as a catalyst for growth and competitiveness, and questions Commissioner Johannes Hahn on how European Structural and Investment Funds can make a difference. With around a quarter of the current EU regional policy budget going into innovation projects already, the Commissioner emphasises the need for the right conditions to be in place for investments in regions, including an innovation strategy, and a clear strategy with a realistic vision of what can be achieved.
Starting with the premise that 'innovation is ultimately about unlocking new opportunities', the episode 'Europe moves to promote regional growth and innovation' considers the achievements and challenges of regions, such as Andalusia in Spain and looks at why projects that embrace a cross-border strategic approach have been successful. Watch - Real Economy "Europe moves to promote regional growth and innovation" .
On 29 November European Commissioner for Regional Policy Johannes Hahn took part in the Citizens' Dialogue organized by the Austrian region Burgenland, the European Parliament and the European Commission at the Culture Congress Centre of Eisenstadt.
Ahead of the European elections on 25 May 2014, the themes of the Dialogue were questions like "What do people in Burgenland expect from the European Union?", "How can the EU face the challenges due to the financial and economic crisis?", "How has Burgenland benefitted from the EU?" and "What is the future of Europe ?". Commissioner Hahn stressed the importance of participation by citizens in European politics: "There are many ways and initiatives to get involved in Europe – it is important that you use them. I am pleased to be able to discuss with you here in Eisenstadt since Burgenland is an example of successful regional policy and cooperation in Europe".
This debate is one of so called "Citizen's Dialogues" series the Commission is holding in cities in every EU country, giving ordinary people an opportunity to speak directly to EU politicians about their rights, the kind of Europe they want to live in, and expectations for the European Union. The debates are part of the 2013 European Year of Citizens: an entire year dedicated to your rights as a European citizen.
On 21 November, Commissioner Hahn left behind one CPR (Common Provisions Regulation) for another (China's Peoples Republic) and, specifically, for the highly important EU-China Summit 2013 in Beijing. In both cases, it amounted to a highly successful week for the Commissioner and for EU regional and urban policy!
In Beijing, an action-packed agenda awaited the Commissioner. In particular, Commissioner Hahn gave a keynote speech at the opening of the EU-China Urbanisation Forum, which is the annual flagship event of the EU-China Urbanisation Partnership. The EU delegation was led by President Barroso and President Von Rompuy while the Chinese side was led by Premier Li Keqiang. In his remarks at the closing of the Forum, President Barroso specifically highlighted the "CETREGIO" project which, since 2010, has allowed more than 150 Chinese decision makers from all 31 provincial-level regions to share experiences and to visit good practices in more than 45 regions in 15 EU member states. . The CETREGIO programme is, of course, a highly-regarded action created and managed by the European Commission, supported by the resources voted by the European Parliament (Preparatory Actions).
In order to permit a more detailed discussion of the issues, the main Urbanisation Forum split into five sub-Fora, with the European Commission's DG for Regional and Urban Policy (REGIO) in the lead for one on the theme of "The Green and Inclusive City". This is the first time that EU regional and urban policy has been fully integrated into the EU-China Summit process. REGIO deputized for Commissioner Hahn at this event, providing the opening remarks for the Commission, which overlapped with his role in leading the EU delegation at the Innovation Dialogue chaired by Wan Gang, Chinese Minister for Science and Technology, where the Commissioner also delivered a speech. This was the first official meeting of the Innovation Cooperation Dialogue, resulting from the Joint Declaration on China-EU Innovation Cooperation Dialogue signed in September 2012.
On 20 November, REGIO participated in the EU-China Local Leaders Seminar on Urbanization in the Chinese Academy of Governance (CAG) which was opened by CAG Vice-President Chen and President Valcárcel of the Committee of the Regions.
Also on 21 November, the Commissioner met Mr DU Ying, Vice Chairman of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) for the Eighth annual high-level meeting within the framework of the cooperation on regional and urban policy in this policy field. The cooperation agreement was signed in May 2006 and today is supported in large part by the resources voted annually by the European Parliament covering the period 2009-2014. The meeting agreed the 2014 work programme.
The EU-China Urbanisation Partnership is led on the EU side by the Directorate General for Energy.
Speaking at the Eurocities 2013 "Smart Citizens" conference in Ghent, Belgium
Commissioner for Regional Policy, Johannes Hahn, said:
"With the adoption of the Multifinancial Framework and the Cohesion Policy Package, the budget and reform of Structural Funds are secure. We have the green light to start work. One of the elements of the reform is the strengthening of the urban dimension.
This means investing in priorities such as sustainable urban mobility, revitalisation of cities and upgrading of research and innovation capacity in urban areas. I estimate 40% of structural funds are being spent in cities in this period, this likely to be 50% in the next period .
European goals can only be achieved with cities: for example energy efficiency, innovation and tackling poverty. Whatever important to Europe is concentrated in cities. Cities are actors, not just the stage on which modern life is played out. They need to make their voices heard. In February, we will start discussions on a new urban agenda for Europe".
The 2012 Financial Report published today by the European Commission shows that 94% of the total EUR 135.6 billion of the EU 2012 budget was dedicated to beneficiaries across Europe such as researchers, students, small and medium enterprises, towns and regions and NGOs. In 2012, the EU budget increased funding in areas stimulating growth, creating employment, and investing in research and innovation. For example investments form the European Regional Development Fund yielded excellent results and helped deliver on 'Europe2020' objectives up to end-2012, even in recent years of economic crisis, including:
- almost 400 000 jobs created so far, of which 200 000 since 2010; this includes the creation of more than 15 600 research jobs and nearly 170 000 jobs in SMEs;
- over 142 000 SMEs supported;
- over 53 000 start-ups supported (28 000 since 2010);
- nearly 1.9 million additional people having broadband access;
- over 53 000 RTD projects and nearly 16 000 cooperation projects between enterprises and research institutions supported.
- over 23 000 renewable energy projects implemented;
- total greenhouse emissions reduced by 33 400 kt;
- about 3 000 megawatts of additional electricity generation capacity created from renewables since 2007;
- nearly 3.4 million people served by improved urban transport.
- over 19 000 educational infrastructure projects supported, benefiting 3.4 million students.
A call is now open to select 16 regions or cities interested in partnering with 8 case study regions on improving multi-level governance: deadline 22 January 2014. The study, funded by DG REGIO and carried out by a consortium led by Spatial Foresight, aims to generate lessons from policy experiences and to stimulate learning and exchange between regions. The study focuses on two policy fields linked to the Europe 2020 Strategy; energy efficiency measures with a special focus on the existing building stock and social inclusion in urban areas. The partnering over 12 months is accompanied by the consortium, which will provide technical assistance, facilitation support and analysis of the cases and networking.
More details on the call and application process : http://www.spatialforesight.eu/2020.html
Terms of reference: http://ec.europa.eu/regional_policy/tender/pdf/2013019/specifications.pdf
COHESION POLICY PACKAGE ADOPTED: Commission welcomes European Parliament's support for fundamental reforms
Johannes Hahn and László Andor, European Commissioners for Regional Policy and for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion respectively, have warmly welcomed the European Parliament's vote today to endorse reform of Cohesion Policy.
The Parliament gave its consent to new rules that refocus investment in the real economy, on key areas to create jobs and foster growth. The reforms also set new conditions for funding and place a greater emphasis on measuring results. In addition, they put in place some common rules for all five European Structural and Investment Funds (European Regional Development Fund, European Social Fund, Cohesion Fund, European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development, European Maritime and Fisheries Fund) for the 2014-2020 period and make them simpler to use. The new rules are due to be formally adopted shortly by the EU's Council of Ministers.
Speaking after the vote Commissioner Johannes Hahn said:
"After a long set of negotiations, the Parliament has given its consent to reforms which transform Cohesion Policy into the EU's principle investment tool for delivering the Europe 2020 goals: promoting the real economy, creating growth and jobs, tackling climate change and energy dependence.
These reforms are fundamental. They are aimed at ensuring a maximum impact for every euro spent - for the benefit of citizens. They do this by concentrating investments on a few key priorities for growth. For example, it is our aim that through the European Regional Development Fund support for small and medium sized businesses – the lifeblood of Europe's economy – should double from around €70 billion in the current period to €140 billion in 2014-2020. These are the main areas where jobs can be created and maintained in a sustainable way.
Focusing on the real economy, innovation, research and supporting renewables and energy efficiency, EU Cohesion Policy is at the heart of the EU's modern budget approved yesterday by MEPs. This vote now clears the way for member states to step up the programme planning so ordinary citizens can soon feel the benefit of these investments."
Commissioner László Andor said:
"The European Social Fund, together with the Youth Employment Initiative, will be a key instrument to support Member States' investment in employment, human capital and effective administration. More than €74 billion will be invested to help millions of people to get a job and to improve their skills. It will support Member States' efforts to improve their active labour market policies, for example through more efficient public employment services, and to reduce poverty by helping the most vulnerable people to get skills and jobs and have the same opportunities as others to integrate into society. I look forward to working with each Member State in the coming months to allocate ESF money in the most effective way to meet their employment and social challenges."
One third of the EU's 2014-2020 budget (see IP/13/1096) will be directed towards stimulating Europe's economy and creating jobs through the EU's new Cohesion Policy. The €325 billion allocated to Europe's Member States, their regions and cities will be focussed on key priorities such as tackling youth unemployment, support for SMEs, innovation and the low carbon economy.
Through the European Social Fund (ESF), worth more than €70 billion, Cohesion Policy will provide a significant contribution to EU priorities in the field of employment (for example through training and life-long learning), education and social inclusion. The new Youth Employment Initiative (€3 billion, plus at least €3 billion from the ESF) will financially support the implementation of the Youth Guarantee.
The rules for spending Cohesion Policy money under the EU's 2014-2020 budget framework have been simplified to ensure easier and better co-ordination. There is also a much clearer link between EU funds and economic governance, in particular the country-specific recommendations.
For more information:
Under the EU's 2014-2020 budget, Cohesion Policy will invest €325 billion in Europe's Member States, their regions and cities to deliver the EU-wide goals of growth and jobs, as well as tackling climate change, energy dependence and social exclusion. Taking into account the national contribution of member states, and the leverage effect of financial instruments, the overall impact is likely to be more than €500 billion. The reform of Cohesion Policy will ensure maximum impact for these investments, adapted to the individual needs of regions and cities. Key elements of the reform are:
1. Investing in all EU regions and adapting the level of support and the national contribution (co-financing rate) to their levels of development:
Less Developed regions (GDP < 75% of EU-27 average)
Transition regions (GDP 75% to 90% of EU-27 average)
More Developed regions (GDP > 90% of EU-27 average)
2. Targeting resources at key growth sectors: Investments under the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) will be concentrated on 4 key priorities: innovation and research, the digital agenda, support for small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) and the low-carbon economy, depending on the category of region (Less Developed: 50%, Transition: 60%, and More Developed: 80%). Around €100 billion will be dedicated to these sectors, of which at least €23 billion will support the shift to a low-carbon economy (energy efficiency and renewable energies). On this, there are separate obligations to dedicate ERDF resources (Less Developed: 12%, Transition: 15% and More Developed: 20%).
Around €66 billion will be focused on priority Trans-European transport links and key environmental infrastructure projects through the Cohesion Fund.
Through the European Social Fund (ESF), Cohesion Policy will provide a significant contribution to EU priorities in the field of employment, for example through training and life-long learning, education and social inclusion (at least 20% of the ESF in each Member State will have to be used to support this objective). The ESF allocation will be established according to the needs of each Member State, subject to a pre-defined minimum, resulting in a total of at least €70 billion. The new Youth Employment Initiative linked to the ESF and worth at least 6 billion € will support the implementation of the Youth Guarantee.
3. Fixing clear, transparent, measurable aims and targets for accountability and results: Countries and regions will have to announce upfront what objectives they intend to achieve with the available resources and identify precisely how they will measure progress towards those goals. This will allow regular monitoring and debate on how financial resources are used. It will mean additional funds can be made available to better performing programmes (through a so called "performance reserve") towards the end of the period.
4. Introducing conditions before funds can be channelled to ensure more effective investments. For example, "smart specialisation" strategies to identify particular strengths and potential, business-friendly reforms, transport strategies, measures to improve public procurement systems, compliance with environmental laws, strategies to fight youth employment, early school leaving or to promote gender equality and non-discrimination are all necessary preconditions.
5. Establishing a common strategy for more coordination and less overlap: A Common Strategic Framework provides the basis for better coordination between the European Structural and Investment Funds (ERDF, Cohesion Fund and ESF as the three funds under Cohesion Policy as well as the Rural Development and Fisheries funds). This also links better to other EU instruments like Horizon 2020, the Connecting Europe Facility or the Programme for Employment and Social Innovation.
6. Cutting red tape and simplifying the use of EU investments through a common set of rules for all European Structural and Investment Funds as well as simpler accounting rules, more targeted reporting demands and more use of digital technology (“e-cohesion”).
7. Enhancing the urban dimension of the policy by earmarking a minimum amount of resources under the ERDF to be spent for integrated projects in cities - on top of other spending in urban areas.
8. Reinforcing cooperation across borders and making the setting up of more cross-border projects easier. Also ensuring macro-regional strategies like the Danube and the Baltic Sea are supported by national and regional programmes.
9. Ensuring that Cohesion Policy is better linked to wider EU economic governance: Programmes will have to be consistent with National Reform Programmes and should address the relevant reforms identified through country-specific recommendations in the European Semester. If necessary, the Commission can ask Member States – under the so-called "macro-economic conditionality" clause - to modify programmes to support key structural reforms. As a last resort, it can suspend funds if economic recommendations are repeatedly and seriously breached.
10. Encouraging the increased use of financial instruments to give SMEs more support and access to credit: Loans, guarantees and equity/venture capital will be supported by EU funds through common rules, a broadening of the scope of their use and providing incentives (e.g. higher co-financing rates). The emphasis on loans rather than grants should improve project quality and discourage subsidy dependence.
Today the European Parliament voted in favour of the EU's Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) for the years 2014 to 2020. The consent of the EP clears the way for the final approval by the Council in the coming weeks. Two and a half years of intense negotiations, since the Commission had tabled its proposals on 29 June 2011, have come to an end.
The EU's Multiannual Financial Framework 2014-2020 allows the European Union to invest up to EUR 960 billion in commitments (1.00% EU GNI) and EUR 908.4 billion in payments (0.95% EU GNI). Instruments for unforeseen circumstances (like the Emergency Aid Reserve, the European Globalisation Fund, the Solidarity Fund and the Flexibility instrument) and the European Development Fund are situated outside the ceilings of the MFF. If fully activated, they represent additional 36.8 bn (or 0.04% of EU GNI). The EU's budget framework 2014-2020 defines spending priorities that are geared to sustainable growth, jobs and competitiveness in line with the EU's growth strategy Europe 2020.
Overall, the reformed cohesion policy will make available up to EUR 366.8 billion to invest in Europe's regions, cities and the real economy. It will be the EU's principle investment tool for delivering the Europe 2020 goals: creating growth and jobs, tackling climate change and energy dependence, and reducing poverty and social exclusion. This will be helped through targeting the European Regional Development Fund at key priorities such as support for small and medium-sized enterprises where the objective is to double support from EUR 70 to 140 billion over the 7 years. There will be stronger result-orientation and a new performance reserve in all European Structural and Investment Funds that incentivises good projects. Finally, efficiency in cohesion policy, rural development and the fisheries fund will also be linked to economic governance to encourage compliance of Member States with the EU's recommendations under the European Semester.
 current prices: Equivalent in 2011 prices: €325 billion.
On 8th November the European Commission's Directorate General for Regional policy and the Government of Flanders jointly held a High Level Conference on Smart Specialisation in Brussels. The more than 500 participants reflected on how regions could identify, build and exploit their regional strengths in order to enhance their competitive advantage. Those so-called "smart specialisation strategies" aim to help every region in Europe to fully tap their innovation potential by focusing resources on a limited number of small growth priorities.
In his keynote speech, Herman Van Rompuy, President of the European Council, highlighted that Europe needs a quantum leap on innovation and congratulated DG REGIO on its Smart Specialisation initiative. He informed that the European Council will dedicate a large part of its Council meeting in February next year to industrial competitiveness. He also called on all relevant stakeholders, such as researchers, policy-makers or businesses, to be involved in the development of regional smart specialisation strategies.
Other high-level speakers included Commissioner Hahn, Commissioner Geoghegan-Quinn, Kris Peeters, Minister-President of Flanders and Danuta Hübner MEP, Chair of the European Parliament Committee on Regional Development. They stressed the need to exploit the added value of Smart Specialisation, which should not remain a paper exercise but become a real process of change in itself.
The conference showcased a brand new set of highly innovative DG REGIO promotional videos highlighting entrepreneurial discovery and examples of Smart Specialisation in certain regions, including an animated film entitled 'The Kingdom of Smart'.
A final conference report with conclusions will be made available soon. The programme, speeches and the webstreaming of the conference are available online.
Four years after its launch as the EU's first macro region, representatives from the 8 EU countries involved, are gathering in Vilnius today alongside Regional Policy Commissioner Johannes Hahn for the Annual Forum of the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region (EUSBSR). Also joining them will be representatives from Russia and Norway.
Key players will discuss how to take the strategy forward and build on what has already been achieved. In particular the focus will be on how tackling the environmental challenges in the region can deliver benefits in terms of growth and jobs.
Speaking ahead of the event, Commissioner Hahn said, "The Baltic Strategy has pioneered an approach to cooperation as Europe's first macro region which others are watching closely both in and out of Europe. We are already achieving a great deal through countries and regions working together to identify common interests, problems and solutions that cannot be so effectively dealt with purely at national or local level."
He added, "But we need to speed up the tempo of our cooperation. It is time for members of the Strategy to act more like captains not passengers of this strategy - and for the countries and regions bordering the Baltic Sea to step up and mobilise available European Funds as well as national, regional, and private resources to influence the direction of the macro region. "
Improving the competitiveness of the EU's regions through EU investments and targeted planning is underlined today by Johannes Hahn, Commissioner for Regional Policy. Speaking today at the conference "Regions as motors of new growth through smart specialisation", in Brussels, Commissioner Hahn urges regions to identify their key assets and focus resources on them to enhance their competitive advantage. The high-level event, organised by the Commission's Directorate-General for Regional and Urban Policy and the Region of Flanders, takes stock of how these so called "smart specialisation" strategies are progressing across Europe's countries and regions. These are a core element in the new EU Cohesion Policy as well as a pre-condition for the use of investments under the European Regional Development Fund.
The debate comes at a crucial time, as the proposals for the new Cohesion Policy 2014-2020 are at a final phase. Key to the new reformed policy is the introduction of conditions that should be met before funds can be spent. One of those is the development of a clear and carefully designed "smart specialisation strategy" for research and innovation. This should guide how investments are used over the next 7 years and ensure clear aims are delivered on the ground.
European Council President, Herman Van Rompuy will give the keynote speech at the event. Alongside Commissioner Hahn, Danuta Hübner, Chair of the European Parliament Committee on Regional Development and Kris Peeters, Minister-President of Flanders are also addressing the conference. Targeted mainly at policy-makers, researchers, and the industry sector in the fields of research, innovation and regional development the idea of the gathering to explore cross border cooperation and synergies between existing strategies.
Videos on Smart Specialisation
The Kingdom of Smart
Technological advancement in Flanders' health care system through Smart Specialisation
Smart Specialisation for the shoe business in the Marche Region
Smart Specialisation in Poland takes off for the future through the Flaris project
Smart Specialisation: PLOCAN Oceanic Research Centre on the Canary Islands
A New Cohesion Policy for Growth and Jobs in Europe: Regional Policy Commissioner Johannes Hahn welcomes vote in European Parliament
Speaking after today's vote by the European Parliament's REGI-Committee on reform of Cohesion Policy and setting up of common rules for the European Structural and Investment Funds, Commissioner Hahn said,
"Today we have taken a major step forward in equipping the EU to support Europe's real economy – to create jobs by supporting its SMEs, kick-starting innovation and fostering its low carbon economy. The deal confirmed just now by the REGI Committee which is the European Parliament's lead committee in this, turns EU Cohesion Policy into vital tool to deliver Europe's Growth Agenda."
He added: "Now it is for the European Parliament to confirm today's committee vote. I trust they will do this. The deal today also pulls together all EU funds in a simpler, common framework making them easier to use and more strategic as a tool to put Europe firmly on path of recovery. Investors are waiting, regions are waiting. It is vital these programmes start on time. It is also a precondition for the approval of the EU's next seven-year budget. I urge the Parliament and the Council to take up their responsibility."
Smarter, greener, more inclusive? — Indicators to support the Europe 2020 strategy is the first of a new type of Eurostat flagship publication providing statistical analyses related to important European Commission policy frameworks or economic, social or environmental phenomena. It provides statistical support for the Europe 2020 strategy and backs up the monitoring of its five headline targets. The analysis in this publication is based on the Europe 2020 headline indicators chosen to monitor the strategy’s targets. Other indicators focusing on subgroups of society or on related issues showing underlying trends help deepen the analysis and present a broader picture. The publication presents official statistics produced by the European Statistical System and disseminated by Eurostat. They cover the period from 2000 or 2005 up to the most recent year for which data are available (2011 or 2012).
Europarl TV issued a short documentary to investigate the benefits of ERDF funding in the Member States who joined the European Union in 2004. The documentary concentrates on the question: has the EU regional policy really been beneficial for those countries? It focuses on Poland, and in particular on the West Pomeranian region in the North West of Poland who has been allocated EUR 3 billion of ERDF investments for 2007-2013. The region has used those investments to improve basic infrastructure (roads, public transport, railways), to increase employment rates and attract investors as well as to enhance local tourism and cultural activities. Overall, the verdict is quite positive showing that Poland has benefited enormously from the EU's regional policy enabling the country to catch up with the rest of Europe.
Europarl TV video – How to breathe new life into Europe's regions?
As the effects of the financial and economic crisis linger, EU Households and enterprises, especially in southern countries, find themselves in the heart of a liquidity crunch. Euronews' 'Real Economy' episode: European bank lending: a tale of two financial states looks at the financial fragmentation being felt on the ground, despite many EU and Government-level measures to cut red-tape and make it cheaper for banks to access credit and therefore pass on the benefits to customers. The importance of credit flow to facilitate growth and other possible ways to kick-start lending, which are at the disposal of EU institutions are looked at, while examining the cross-country divergence in bank lending rates - the largest divergence between SMEs and larger corporations is analysed in Spain and Italy.
The episode looks at the actions and tools available to EU institutions that can help businesses obtain credit, for example the financial instrument, JEREMIE funded through the ERDF, and ways to incentivise banks to lend to SMEs and others.
Effective spending and good leadership top of the agenda as Regional Policy Commissioner Hahn joins Danube countries in Bucharest
14 countries from Europe's Danube "macro region" will gather for this year's Danube Forum in Bucharest on Monday and Tuesday 28 and 29 October. Hosted by EU Commissioner for Regional Policy, Johannes Hahn and Romanian Prime Minister Victor Ponta, the Forum will discuss how to strengthen the impact of the EU's Danube Strategy to tackle some of the region's most pressing challenges like energy security and pollution, crime, missing transport links to lack of competitiveness and the brain drain.
Foreign and Regional Development Ministers will join Commissioner Hahn to take stock of current achievements and challenges, assess progress to date and reflect on the future implementation of the Danube Strategy.
The meeting comes after the recent endorsement by EU Member States of the European Commission's evaluation report on the added value of the macroregional strategies. This report delivered a positive verdict on the macroregional approach: highlighting its hundreds of new projects, joint initiatives and important networks which bring together EU and non EU countries alike to solve common problems. But the report also reminded governments of the need for more political commitment and leadership and to make the strategy a priority across all relevant policy areas.
- Press Release
- European Union Strategy for the Danube Region
- 2nd Annual Forum of the EU Strategy for the Danube Region, Bucharest
- Conference Programme
- Webstreaming (live as of Monday 28 Oct, 14:00)
- 1st report on the implementation of the Strategy (April 2013)
- Evaluation Report concerning the added value of macro-regional strategies
Help the Committee of the Regions with the mid-term assessment of Europe 2020 from the standpoint of EU cities and regions. Visit the CoR website and choose your language version. The CoR questionnaire is available in 23 EU languages.
Do you have an idea to fight high unemployment? Do you think you could improve the working conditions of people stuck in low-paid jobs – whether because of their gender, age, social status or handicap? Do you know how to enhance opportunities for the 27 million Europeans currently out of work? Then the second European Social Innovation Competition is for you!
The Competition, launched in memory of Diogo Vasconcelos, invites Europeans to come up with new solutions to reduce unemployment and minimize its corrosive effects on the economy and our society both now and in the future. Social innovation is not only desirable, it is necessary.
It doesn’t matter if you haven’t found the right investor for your ideas yet. We can help you bring your project to life as part of our Social Innovation Academy. The three winning projects will be awarded financial support of EUR 30,000.
But there's more. Winners of the first edition emphasize that the Competition has given them the chance to develop a great idea, to bring legitimacy to their work, and last but not least, to make their solution accessible to more people.
EU macro regional strategies going from "strength to strength" says Regional Policy Commissioner Hahn after Member States endorse European Commission study
A European Commission evaluation of how countries are tackling common problems from pollution, crime, missing transport links to lack of competitiveness through the EU's so called macro regional strategies, was endorsed today by national governments represented at the General Affairs Council in Luxembourg.
The study was asked for by Member States who today reiterated their support for the macro regional approach and for the existing Danube and Baltic strategies. These two strategies bring together 15 Member States and several neighbouring non-EU members as well.
Regional Policy Commissioner, Johannes Hahn, has already been asked by EU national governments to put forward proposals for a third – Adriatic-Ionian – macro regional strategy next year.
He said, "Today's debate and conclusions reflect more than warm words from EU Member States. Theirs is an active engagement which I find hugely encouraging. Our study - endorsed today - shows the macro regional approach is going from strength to strength. The Baltic and Danube strategies are already delivering concrete results despite being relatively new. Member States, regions and cities are increasingly seeing that the value of co-operating in such a close way to solve common problems is not only a highly effective approach in terms of results, but in this time of limited resources, a very cost effective one as well."
The full statement is available here: MEMO/13/917
The Committee of the Regions (CoR) has expanded its communication efforts thanks to Europe in my Region: a new interactive platform voicing the news and activities from Europe's regions and cities. The launch of its new platform, Europe in my Region, is designed to share regional and local news on EU affairs, increasing the visibility of CoR members' activities and offering a space to keep readers up to speed with what is going on in Brussels and across Europe.
The fundamental aim of the CoR is to bring Europe closer to its citizens by being the voice of regions and cities in the European Union. With the help of its 353 members – locally elected politicians from all 28 Member States – the CoR strives to encourage cooperation at all levels of government and to increase citizen participation in EU affairs.
Europe in my Region does just that. Available in all EU languages, readers can browse the interactive map of Europe and read news, events, interviews and new initiatives taking place in their country and region. It offers a breadth of information including:
- Latest news on local authorities and events
- Interviews with members and politicians
- The latest press releases and other articles
- Photos and videos (downloadable for free)
Working with partners, across Europe
The platform is a tool to not only inform readers about the work of the CoR. Partnerships have been developed with European, local and regional associations and organisations, across the continent who take advantage of the platform by regularly contributing articles and news from their countries. Working in partnership is part of the CoRs' efforts to drive forward its decentralised communication strategy helping increase the visibility of the CoR, its members, their territories and also projects carried out with the help of Structural funds.
Thanks to these collaborative efforts, our partners regularly distribute content and monthly e-newsletters from the site.
Monthly e-newsletters: ten countries, 12 languages, 100.000 readers
Each month the CoR produces eNewsletters distributed to ten EU countries in their own languages: Belgium, France, Greece, Holland, Ireland, Italy, Poland, Romania, Spain, and the United Kingdom,
They keep our readers up to date with all the main news taking place at the CoR and from Europe's cities and regions.
Become a partner!
EU Regional Policy Commissioner Johannes Hahn will join the Presidents of Europe’s Outermost Regions later today as they gather for their annual conference on the French island of Reunion. Commissioner Hahn will welcome the Outermost Regions' commitment in providing Action Plans - first proposed by the Commission - on how they intend to make the best use of EU funds for 2014-2020. Later in the four-day visit, Commissioner Hahn will be travelling on to Mayotte which will gain Outermost Region status in January 2014.
The conference on October 19 is hosted by Didier Robert, President of the Regional Council of La Reunion, and current chair of the group of eight Outermost Regions (Guadeloupe, French Guiana, Reunion, Martinique, the overseas Collectivity of St Martin, the Azores, Madeira and the Canary Islands). The governments of Spain, Portugal and France will be represented at the conference, as well as the Lithuanian Presidency of the EU.
Speaking ahead of the conference, Commissioner Hahn said, "The action plans now being presented by the Outermost Regions are already proving a very useful exercise in strategic thinking and I am delighted that every one of the eight outermost regions, as well as Mayotte, which joins in January, will have one."
"In the context of the Action Plans, the regions have worked hard to bring forward growth and investment strategies for 2014-2020 - not just for funds under EU Regional Policy but for all the EU’s structural investment funds. Critically too the Action Plans have encouraged a shift in perception: we are no longer defining the Outermost Regions by their handicaps but by their many assets and advantages as well. Now, we need to make sure these plans feed into the Partnership Agreements and the programmes, and be careful not to take our foot off the gas."
On Mayotte which the Commissioner will visit for the first time, Commissioner added "I look forward to welcoming Mayotte as a member of the new family of Outermost Regions from January 2014. The key challenges ahead for Mayotte will be to accelerate preparations on how EU investments are to be used and to make sure there is the capacity to spend and administer the greatly increased funds available. This will be vital to help improve the lives of people living here and make the region more prosperous."
By 2050 the world's population is expected to hit 9 billion, while global energy demand will increase by 80% and our CO² emissions will go up by half.
The latest edition of Euronews' Real Economy broadcast focusses on how "Green Growth" can foster sustainable economic growth, while reducing greenhouse gas emissions and minimising waste of natural resources.
One great example of Green Technology showcased in this edition is the Copenhaguen Cleantech cluster for low-carbon economy, which benefited from European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) investment.
The project went on to create over 700 jobs in the clean technology sector and enabled start up companies in the sector, turning their projects into reality.
The Titanic Quarter, a redevelopment area on the site of the world-famous Harland and Wolff shipyard which includes the Titanic Museum, a major international attraction (photo), is the prestigious venue for the UK's Smart Specialisation (S3) conference of 17 October 2013. The event is organized jointly by the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment (NI), the S3 Platform of the Joint Research Centre (Seville) and REGIO. S3 strategies will be central to the new generation of European regional and urban development programmes for 2014-2020 and will seek to prioritize investment in national and regional innovation and to ensure that implementation is tightly monitored and results-orientated. A key element is that of partnership between government, knowledge providers and the business community. A similar approach to the EU's S3 strategies has been explored in other parts of the world, for example, in Norway, South Korea, Australia and Latin America, and the programme includes a presentation on actions currently being implemented in Chile with EU support. The idea to hold the UK conference in Belfast originated in the Commission's Northern Ireland Task Force which is seeking to help the region to become more closely involved in key EU policy initiatives. The conference, which will be opened by Arlene Foster, Minister responsible for DETI, will include independent experts, representatives of several UK regions, as well as from Ireland and Sweden, and Commission specialists.
On Thursday 10 October REGIO Director General, Walter Deffaa, signed a Letter of Intent creating an urban policy dialogue with Japan, in the presence of Tetsu Kabashima, Deputy Director General of the City Bureau of the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT). This represents the ninth formalized relationship with a non-EU country on cooperation in the field of regional and urban policy following the signature earlier this year of a Letter of Intent with the Ministry of External Relations of Peru (who spoke at the Open Days session on Tuesday 8 October on the theme of "International experience in promoting integration and socio-economic development within cities and across borders"). The delegation from Japan was comprised of representatives of MLIT as well as those from the cities of Kanazawa, Kumamoto and Kitakyushu. The visitors were in Europe on the reciprocal leg of the visit to Japan in 2012 by the city authorities of Stockholm, Torino and Leipzig, and to participate in the Open Days session entitled, "Putting urban development into an international context". Among the main themes discussed at the Open Days were those of: transport and the objective of the 'compact' city'; creating the 'green city' against a background of heavy industrial pollution; 'culture' as an urban development opportunity. For more details on this EU-Japan exchange programme, an example of the "decentralised cooperation" which REGIO is promoting in its relations with third countries in order actively to involve regional and urban authorities, follow the link:
Join us on 11-12 November 2013 in the charming city of Vilnius (Lithuania) for the 4th Annual Forum of the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region!
The event, which is hosted by the European Commission jointly with the Lithuanian Presidency of the Council of the European Union in collaboration with the Secretariat of Council of the Baltic Sea States and INTERACT Point Turku, will bring together the main stakeholders of the Strategy from all countries around the Baltic Sea, representing the governmental sector, business, civil society and regional organisations.
The 2013 Annual Forum, entitled ‘Baltic Sea, Baltic Growth, Baltic Environment’, will focus on the environmental challenges faced by the Baltic Sea region, and the potential to turn these challenges into opportunities for economic growth, competitiveness and job creation.
Register for the event NOW and be a PART of it! The deadline for registration is 17 October 2013 and the number of places is limited.
A draft agenda, as well as practical information might be found here: http://www.balticsea-region-strategy.eu/pages/4th-annual-forum
We look forward to welcoming you in Vilnius!
During the OPEN DAYS 2013 Commissioner for Regional Policy Johannes Hahn delivered today in Brussels the keynote speech “Towards Sustainable Cities in Europe” at the Reference Framework for Sustainable Cities (RFSC) Conference. The RFSC is an interactive web-tool designed with cities in mind which aims to help them promote and enhance their work on integrated sustainable urban development. It was launched on 28th January 2013.
French Minister of Territorial Equality and Housing Cécile Duflot (via video link) and Jean-Marc Michel Director General at the French Ministry of Territorial Equality and Housing spoke about their experience with RFSC in France and Harald Herrmann, Director and Professor at the Federal Institute for Research on Building, Urban Affairs and Spatial Development (BBSR) shared his experiences with RFSC in Germany.
The RFSC website was successfully launched for the free-use of European cities on the 28th January 2013. As of the end of September 2013, 405 accounts have been created – 113 of which are city authorities. The others are universities, organisations, individuals etc. The tool is now available in 18 EU languages and the remaining EU languages are expected to go-live in the near future.
“Quality of Life in European Cities” Survey: a snapshot of citizens’ anxieties and hopes in urban centres
The European Commission has today released the results of the 3-yearly Eurobarometer survey on the “Perception of Quality of Life in European Cities”. The survey was conducted in 79 cities of all EU Member States as well as Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Turkey. 41,000 urban dwellers rated their satisfaction with various aspects of urban life, in particular public services.
The survey found:
- As in 2009, healthcare, employment, education and training are the issues most people want their cities to deal with above all.
- The survey suggests citizens in most European cities feel finding a job is hard. Only in 9 cities did a majority of citizens say it is easy to find employment. Compared with 2009 this job insecurity has increased significantly, though in some cities the outlook has become more positive.
- In 50 cities, at least one person in two disagrees that it is easy to find good housing at a reasonable price.
- The survey also records a low satisfaction with schools and educational institutions in many capitals.
- On a more positive note the survey finds that in all but 5 of the cities surveyed, a majority of the respondents agree with the statement that the presence of foreigners is good for the city and that foreigners are well integrated.
- There are wide disparities between cities on how people assess the quality of public transport, health care services, or their personal financial situation.
- High satisfaction with public spaces, green areas, cleanliness and feeling safe seems closely linked with the overall satisfaction felt by people about in their city. When asked if they are "satisfied" living in their own cities, a majority - at least 80% in 71 cities - said they were.
- The survey also suggests that more people than in previous surveys think their cities are active when it comes to fighting climate change. This is particularly the case in capital cities.
The "Quality of Life in European Cities" survey will be formally launched later today during OPEN DAYS 2013 in Brussels - a four-day event focusing on the EU's future regional and urban policy.
Speaking ahead of the event European Commissioner for Regional Policy, Johannes Hahn said, "This survey provides a useful snapshot of how Europeans feel about the cities that they live in. It reminds us of the many elements that contribute to a sense of wellbeing and a good quality of life in our urban environments. I hope the results will inspire and guide policymakers, urban planners and civil society to address urban problems through a more holistic and integrated manner as we are now encouraging in the next period of Regional and Urban Policy for 2014-2020."
EU Regional and Urban Policy will give better support to cities in 2014-2020. Currently nearly 40% of the European Regional Development Fund is invested in cities. Depending on the priorities of Member States, this is expected to grow. On top of this, in the next period EU countries should promote investments that combine different kinds of actions to tackle the particular economic, environmental, climate and social challenges of urban areas. At least 5% should be set aside by Member States for this type of integrated approach.
The European Commission is publishing a blueprint to help micro-enterprises and small businesses in Europe’s regions grow by using digital technologies. To ensure funding allocated to SMEs to enhance their e-commerce and ICT capacities is spent quickly and in full, innovation vouchers worth up to €10,000 will be made available for purchasing and learning to make use of digital (ICT) services. Such ICT innovation voucher schemes are being piloted in the Spanish Regions of Murcia and Extremadura.
Going online and using other digital technologies increases competitiveness, exports, and domestic market opportunities. Web-connected small businesses across G-20 countries have 22% higher revenue growth than those with low or no web-use. In Germany, 93% of small and medium-sized businesses with an active web presence increased employment over three years, compared with only 50% of those not online.
The regional voucher schemes would allow small businesses to exchange their vouchers for specialist ICT services such as website development, learning how to sell through eCommerce, or adopting more sophisticated ICT tools for business processes, such as supply chain management and customer relations management.
The Commission is offering regions a detailed blueprint to help implement the scheme, with a workshop the Open Days, 11th European Week for Regions and Cities.
More than two thirds of Europeans live in an urban environment. Towns are the pillars of our modern Europe, the places where solutions to a great many problems are found. In areas such as competitiveness, employment, education, social inclusion, transport, the environment and innovation the progress achieved in cities provide solutions to improve citizens' daily life.
From 7th-31st of October Place Jean Rey, Etterbeek, Brussels (on Rue Belliard, opposite Parc Léopold) hosts an exhibition called "100 EUrbansolutions for better cities", promoting dozens of projects in the towns and cities of the EU and co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). Commissioner for Regional Policy Johannes Hahn will inaugurate the exhibition on Tuesday 8th October at 5.30 pm.
Towns have a crucial role to play in lifting Europe out of the crisis. However, as well as these positive attributes, they are also the places where unemployment, segregation and poverty are concentrated. Towns have to face various challenges, from providing adequate housing to mobility and environmental issues. The European Union (EU) supports projects that help to improve the living conditions in towns.
More than 5,500 regional and urban representatives from across Europe will be sharing views and approaches on how the next generation of investments under EU regional policy can get Europe back on the path to growth, creating jobs and boosting competitiveness.
The 11th annual ‘OPEN DAYS – European week of regions and cities’ will be held from 7-10 October in Brussels. The four-day event which is the largest of its kind, will bring together policymakers, politicians and experts to debate the key issues facing EU Regional Policy today. It comes as fundamental reforms to the policy are finalised and planning for the 2014-20 programmes reach a critical phase. Hosted by Johannes Hahn EU Commissioner for Regional Policy and Ramón Luis Valcárcel, President of Committee of the Regions, the event will be opened by José Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission. The opening session will include a panel debate on the central role of EU Regional Policy in propelling Europe's recovery and growth.
Speaking ahead of the event, Commissioner Hahn commented: "This year’s OPEN DAYS is the launching pad for how we invest and plan our funds over the next seven years. OPEN DAYS 2013 comes at a decisive moment for EU Regional Policy. Negotiations on the reform of the Policy are at a final phase, while regions are working very closely with Commission services to prepare the ground and present their strategies for the next generation of programmes. Our new, reformed Policy offers the regions a real opportunity to invest in future growth and prosperity. This is about targeting investment priorities but at the same time building on the individual strengths of our cities and regions. I look forward to our discussion on how Regional Policy can help transform our cities and regions, making them more competitive, generating growth and creating jobs."
Committee of the Regions President Valcárcel added: "A reformed cohesion policy is taking off and is called to provide as soon as possible effective tools to support recovery and boost employment. Regions and local authorities are undertaking a race against the time to ensure that 2014-2020 investment plans will start being implemented over the coming year. The Committee of the Regions is fully committed to help regions in winning this race while granting the highest quality of projects and strategies. In this perspective, 2013 OPEN DAYS will be a crucial opportunity for regional policy key players to familiarise with the new tools and rules, as well as to share the best ideas to deliver growth in our regions."
OPEN DAYS goes under the slogan 'Europe's regions and cities taking off for 2020' this year, with 100 workshops focusing on the following themes:
- Managing change 2014-2020: innovative approaches to fulfilling future investment priorities, (e.g. integrated territorial investment, the joint action plans, governance issues, financial instruments, etc.).
- Synergies and cooperation: between different EU, national and regional policies and combining different sources of funding. Various approaches to cooperation will be examined, such as macro-regional strategies, or between national, regional and city administrations and expert institutions.
- Challenges and solutions: The common challenges facing Europe’s regional and urban areas are assessed with practical solutions proposed, e.g.: SMEs' access to credit and to the global markets, youth unemployment, demographic challenges, waste, water and natural risks management, congestion, pollution or high energy consumption.
Highlights of the programme
President Valcárcel and Commissioner Hahn will host a press roundtable on October 7th at 13:30 in the Committee of the Regions.
19 finalists competing in four categories for the 2014 RegioStars Awards are showcased during a full day workshop in the Charlemagne building, Brussels.
Presentation of ‘Quality of life in European Cities’ - Key findings of Survey of 41,000 citizens from 79 cities give views on urban life: Tuesday 8th October, 16:30 – 17:15 in the Berlaymont, Schuman room.
‘100 EUrban solutions’ outdoor exhibition inaugurated by Commissioner Hahn and Rudi Vervoort, Minister-President of the Brussels-Capital Region at 17:00 on Tuesday 8th at Place Jean Rey, Brussels and several networking events taking place in the evening of 8 October in other 12 venues across the exhibition route.
The winners of the 2014 “Europe in my region” photo competition, from Greece, Hungary and Malta will be presented with their prizes by Commissioner Hahn on Wednesday 9th at 11:15 in the Charlemagne building.
New at OPEN DAYS this year is a Master Class for 77 selected PhD students and early career researchers in the field of regional and urban policy.
Alongside the Brussels seminars, over 300 events under banner ‘Europe in my region/ city’ are being held until December 2013.
EU Solidarity Fund: Commission moves to help Germany, Austria, the Czech Republic and Romania after flood and drought disasters
EU Commissioner for Regional Policy, Johannes Hahn, has today announced a proposal by the European Commission to allocate more than 360 million EUR to Germany in response to the serious flooding in late spring, May and June of this year.
Neighbouring countries Austria and the Czech Republic who suffered lesser damages as a direct result of the floods will benefit from 21.6 million EUR and 15.9 million EUR respectively. In addition, Romania will receive more than 2.4 million EUR to help meet the costs for damage caused by the drought and forest fires in the summer of 2012.
The support, under the European Solidarity Fund, still needs to be approved by the European Parliament and the Council. Providing it is, it will help to contribute to the emergency costs incurred by the public authorities in these four member states because of the disasters. In response to the emergency, in particular, it will help to restore essential infrastructure and services, reimburse funding emergency and rescue operations as well as meeting some of the costs of cleaning-up of the disaster- stricken regions including the natural zones.
Commissioner Hahn, who oversees the Fund and signed today’s proposal, said "This decision shows how Europe can act to help fellow countries and regions get back on their feet after natural disasters. The European Solidarity Fund exists to give support to those countries when help is needed most to regain in getting back economic stability after natural disasters. The amount of funding proposed will enable Germany, Austria, the Czech Republic and Romania to recover and provide normal living conditions for the citizens in the affected regions."
EU Commissioner Janusz Lewandowski, responsible for Financial Programming and Budget, stated: "Last July I promised the people in areas affected by the floods that the EU budget would come to their help as quickly and effectively as possible. Today, we deliver: we propose to amend the 2013 EU budget in order to provide help, and I will do all I can to ensure Member States and the European Parliament swiftly approve our proposal."
In May and June 2013, much of Central Europe was affected by extreme flooding in many areas: causing damages to houses, infrastructure, and services. Though the floods were more severe and more extensive, overall damage was less than that of the floods in 2002, particularly in Austria and the Czech Republic. This is partly due to the effectiveness of flood protection and risk control measures being introduced since 2002, but more efforts are required in the future.
During the summer of 2012, major parts of Romania suffered from extremely high temperatures leading to drought. This led to with important crop failure, numerous forest and vegetation fires, and severe shortage of water for the people.
European Parliament Magazine's Regional Review, which is published to accompany OPEN DAYS 2013, includes many articles both from Commissioner Hahn and from colleagues in the European Commission's DG for Regional and Urban Policy. Commissioner Hahn uses his contribution in order to invite all regions and cities to use this year's event to "learn more about the priorities of the next phase of the structural and investment funds". He emphasises the special focus under the new regional policy on achieving value for money while allowing flexibility. The aim, he underlines, is to "ensure that the EU invests in key areas of growth to stay competitive in an ever more globalised economy". Committee of the Regions president, Ramón Luis Valcárcel Siso, writes that the debate surrounding the EU's funded growth strategies will "massively contribute to the public discussion related to the 2014 elections and the future of Europe". The chair of the European Parliament's Regional Development Committee, former regional policy Commissioner Danuta Hübner, calls for the EU's regions to "be placed at the heart of the industrial renaissance process".
Statement by Commissioner Johannes Hahn at the General Affairs Council: Member States must urgently find deal with European Parliament on Cohesion Policy Reform
Addressing EU Foreign and Europe Ministers today at the General Affairs Council in Brussels, Commissioner for Regional Policy Johannes Hahn said Member States and the European Parliament must bridge their differences on the reform of cohesion policy ahead of critical talks later this week.
Agreement on the plans to reform the policy and to create a common set of rules for EU funds is also necessary for final approval of the EU's 2014-2020 budget.
Commissioner Hahn said, "There is a real urgency now to strike a deal and find a reasonable compromise. Every institution - Member States, Parliament and we at the Commission has the duty to move in order to reach agreement."
"The longer we delay, the more we put in question the impact of more than 400 billion EUR of investments around Europe and the possibility of recovery and growth."
"We are close to agreement. On the few remaining issues - macroeconomic conditionality, performance reserve, co-financing and pre financing - I urge the Member States and Parliament to explore common ground, bridge their differences and seal the deal when they meet for crucial 'Trilogue' talks on Wednesday."
Full statement: MEMO/13/834
The RegioStars Awards Jury has announced the finalists for the RegioStars 2014 awards which honour Europe's most inspirational and innovative regional projects. The RegioStars Awards Jury singled out 19 finalists from 80 projects supported by EU cohesion policy funds on the basis of four key criteria: innovation, impact, sustainability and partnership.
The finalists come from regions and cities in 17 Member States: Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Ireland, Luxemburg, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.
They will be showcasing their projects before the awards jury, chaired by former Committee of the Regions President Luc Van den Brande, on 8 October during the 11th annual European Week of Regions and Cities – OPEN DAYS 2013. The winners will be announced at the Award Ceremony presented by Commissioner Hahn in Brussels on 31 March 2014.
"Europe's strengths are in its regions", says Commissioner Hahn at the 40th anniversary of the Conference of Peripheral and Maritime regions
Commissioner Hahn attended today the 40th anniversary of the Conference of Peripheral and Maritime regions (CPMR) in Brittany, France. CPMR represents the interests of 200 million people across 28 countries, promoting a strong EU Regional Policy and an integrated Maritime Policy to contribute to Europe’s growth.
“Europe's strengths lie in the capacity of regions to innovate and to reinvent themselves”, he said to representatives of over 160 European peripheral and maritime regions. Referring to the reforms of future EU Regional Policy, currently being agreed by EU institutions, the Commissioner underlined that the policy is expanding its traditional role of helping poorer regions to catch up and "assuming more and more the role of implementing Europe wide objectives like the Europe 2020 goals".
Commissioner Hahn finally praised outgoing President Jean Yves Le Drian for his energetic contribution to shaping future EU policy.
Online registrations closed on 23 September with a total of 5,460 participants from 54 countries, taking 94% of the available seats. Over 4,000 are newcomers to the event, as compared to 2012. Like in previous years, two- thirds of participants will come from national and regional authorities and three in four will travel to Brussels to attend the event.
On-site registration is possible during the event. Sessions with available seats will be advertised in the registration area.
The Autumn edition of Panorama magazine is now online.
The centrepiece is a feature on how EU regions are leading the way in the realm of eco-innovation. The EU's Structural and Investment Funds are promoting smart, sustainable growth through green, energy-efficient projects profiled in this article. There is also a selection of articles highlighting some of the main workshops and seminars at this Year's OPEN DAYS event, from the OPEN DAYS University's Master Class to relations between the EU and China & Japan.
Elsewhere in this issue you can find an overview of Macro-regional strategies helping coordinate projects in the Danube and Baltic regions, an update on the EU Structural Funds' work in disaster relief, and an explanation of the ex post evaluation process for the 2007-2013 period. You will also find the usual selection of news items and featured projects from across the EU.
This issue of Panorama magazine will be available in 22 languages in the coming weeks.
As German voters go to the polls to elect a new parliament, the latest episode of Euronews' 'Real Economy' looks at the key economic issues under the spotlight in debates surrounding the election and the likely impacts on the EU as a whole.
The episode focusses on the country's economic model – including an analysis of the emphasis placed on exports, immigration and labour policy, and its key position in the Eurozone.
Real Economy is a bi-monthly magazine focusing on the macro-economic policies in Europe that have an impact on the daily lives of the citizens, looking for solutions that work. Previous episodes have looked at the 'growth dilemma', unemployment in Europe and the Greek economy.
To mark the "European Co-operation Day" Commissioner for Regional Policy, Johannes Hahn, answers your questions on twitter.
On 19th September 14:00-15:00 CET, Commissioner Hahn (@JHahnEU) will host a twitter chat on the benefits and future of cooperation between European regions. You are welcome to join and exchange on this broad and important topic. You can already start to tweet your questions. Remember to always mention #EUChat and #ecday in your tweet.
If you want more information on the different ways of cooperation between EU regions and countries, please check the European Commission Regional Policy Cooperation page.
As well, hundreds of events will take place in September to celebrate the EU Cooperation Day, to see what happens near you please check the European Cooperation Day website
The value for communities, regions and member states of EU Regional Policy’s cross-border, transnational and interregional projects and programmes is in the spotlight this week. The campaign, in the run up to European Cooperation Day on September 21, comes at a critical time.
European Territorial Cooperation (ETC) counts for a relatively small part of EU Regional Policy. But if the current agreement on Regional Policy funding for 2014-2020 is approved by the European Parliament and Council, its budget would increase to €8.9 billion. Under the new reforms to Regional Policy, currently in the final stages of negotiation, ETC programmes will also be more focused on investments that create the right conditions for future growth.
On 19 September, Commissioner Hahn will be on Twitter to debate the value of EU Regional Policy across borders from 14:00-15:00. Questions can already be tweeted mentioning #EUChat and #ecday to @JHahnEU.
EU Regional Policy Commissioner Johannes Hahn announces more than EUR 108 million of EU investments for growth-enhancing projects in Poland
The value for communities, regions and member states of EU Regional Policy’s cross-border, transnational and interregional projects and programmes is in the spotlight this week. The campaign, in the run up to European Cooperation Day on September 21, comes at a critical time.
European Territorial Cooperation (ETC) counts for a relatively small part of EU Regional Policy. But if the current agreement on Regional Policy funding for 2014-2020 is approved by the European Parliament and Council, its budget would increase to €8.9 billion. Under the new reforms to Regional Policy, currently in the final stages of negotiation, ETC programmes will also be more focused on investments that create the right conditions for future growth.
On 19 September, Commissioner Hahn will be on Twitter to debate the value of EU Regional Policy across borders from 14:00-15:00. Questions can already be tweeted mentioning #EUChat and #ecday to @JHahnEU.
Today Commissioner Hahn adressed the EU Ministers for Economy and Finance at the ECOFIN infomal meeting in Vilnius on the EU's proposed SME initiative. This is intended to provide extra support in terms of financing for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises in order to contribute to recovery in the EU.
The Commissioner, alongside with Commission Vice-President Olli Rehn gave to the Ministers a perspective on the initiative in context of Regional Policy – structural funds already provide more than 70 billion euros in direct support , including through financial instruments, to SME. In the next period , by making SMEs one of the key 4 sectors to invest in, that contribution could double. Speech
The European Commission has today started the search for the first European Capital of Innovation, or iCapital. The prize will reward the city which is building the best “innovation ecosystem”, connecting citizens, public organisations, academia, and business. The winning city will receive €500 000 to scale up its achievements. The contest is open to cities with over 100 000 inhabitants and for initiatives that have been running since at least 1 January 2010. In countries where there is no city with more than 100 000 inhabitants, the largest city is eligible to apply. The deadline for applications is 3 December 2013.
2013 is the "year of the energy revolution" in Burgenland. Sustainable and resource-efficient supply of energy is one of the key issues for the future development of the economy in Europe. Therefore, a forward-looking energy policy in the face of rising global energy demand and scarce resources is more important than ever. From September 2013, the Burgenland is the first of the nine states of Austria and the first region in Europe to cover its entire electricity needs with renewable energy and thus be electrically self-sufficient as the first region in Europe. In a ceremony on 13 September 2013 in Gols, the Burgenland's provincial government will celebrate together with the Burgenland population the role of Burgenland as a European model region for renewable energy.
The final Cities for Active Inclusion (CfAI) conference will launch the results of research carried out over the past five years, and recommendations to EU social policy makers. This high-level event, to be held in Brussels on September 25, will feature a political debate amongst the mayors of the partnership’s cities will be followed by three interactive panel debates that will look at youth employment, demographic change and social return on investment. The cities will present their good practices and alongside EU stakeholders, will discuss the current policy and challenges ahead.
Commission approves Croatia’s plan for EU cohesion policy investment of 450m euro to deliver growth and jobs
The European Commission has approved Croatia’s investment plan to use EU cohesion policy funds worth €449.4m allocated to the country when it joined the EU on 1st July 2013. The National Strategic Reference Framework (NSRF) prepared by the Croatian authorities sets out the investment priorities for Croatia’s regions in order to accelerate economic growth and create employment, boosting the country’s overall competitiveness. Strategic projects with clear, pre-defined goals matching these priorities must quickly be identified so as to make the best use of this valuable investment by the 2016 deadline.
Commenting on the move, Commissioner Johannes Hahn said: “This is a crucial first step for Croatia on the path to competitiveness. Cohesion policy funds must be invested where most needed to strengthen the local economy, increase labour market participation and to capitalise on the nation’s assets, such as the preservation and promotion of natural resources to boost the tourism industry and business support to help SMEs thrive”.
Cohesion Fund (€149.8m) investments will go towards waste and wastewater management, as well as improvement of the water supply. The European Regional Development Fund (€228.4m) will be invested in business support for SMEs, research and innovation, along with more basic infrastructures, such as railway and waterways. The European Social Fund (€60m) will support job creation and invest in social inclusion and education projects.
Croatia joins the current financial period of cohesion policy only six months before its end, which means, in keeping with EU rules - all projects selected for investment should be completed by the end of 2016.
The cohesion policy financial breakdown per Member State for 2014-2020 reflects the state of play of negotiations as of July 2013. The figures are subject to change in the final agreement between the Council and the European Parliament.
Cohesion policy 2014-2020 represents approximately 1/3 of the EU budget, reinforcing its role as the Union's main investment policy for growth and jobs and implementing EU policies. The Commission is working with national and local authorities to define priorities for investment for each country for the next financial period, ensuring the investment's maximum impact on competitiveness and employment creation, and reinforcing the thematic concentration and focus on results of the reformed policy.
The summer 2013 edition of Panorama magazine is now online in 22 languages. The centrepiece is a 6-page feature on the accession of Croatia to the EU, which offers an overview of the accession process, an introduction to Croatia's major industries, examples of successful projects and an interview with Branko Grčić, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Regional Development and EU Funds.
The other main highlight is a look into the joint auditing process (European Commission and national authorities) to ensure Cohesion Policy funding is properly spent. Also featured are an overview of the recently published Strategic Report on Cohesions Policy, a preview of October's OPEN DAYS event, and an article on the review of State Aid regulations.
You can now discover the 101 Brussels-based workshops and debates organised as part of the OPEN DAYS 2013 - 11th European Week of Regions and Cities. Browse through the programme to register online!
Take a photo of a project receiving EU funding and submit it to the photo competition "Europe in my region" by the 23 August at the latest. Check the Facebook page and try to win the 1 000 euro to spend on digital camera equipment and a trip for two to Brussels during the OPEN DAYS event in October.
The finalists for the RegioStars 2014 awards which honour Europe's most inspirational and innovative regional projects were published today in Brussels. The RegioStars Awards Jury singled out 19 finalists from 80 projects supported by EU cohesion policy funds on the basis of four key criteria: innovation, impact, sustainability and partnership.
The finalists come from regions and cities in 17 Member States: Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Ireland, Luxemburg, the Netherlands, , Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.
They will be showcasing their projects before the awards jury, chaired by former Committee of the Regions President Luc Van den Brande, on October 8 during the 11th annual European Week of Regions and Cities – OPEN DAYS 2013. The winners will be chosen at the Award Ceremony presented by Commissioner Hahn in Brussels on March 31 2014.
The award categories which reflect the priorities of the Europe2020 Growth Agenda are:
- Smart Growth – SME Innovation: supporting the competitiveness and growth of small and medium sized business
- Sustainable Growth - Green growth and jobs through bio-economy: sustainable investments in the bio-economy sector
- Inclusive Growth - Creating jobs for the younger generation: helping to fight youth unemployment
- CityStar - Investment projects in sustainable urban public transport: supporting the development of strategies address transport issues in our cities
The previous RegioStars Awards for 2013 honoured flagship projects in Porto (Portugal), the North West of England (the United Kingdom), Warmińsko-Mazurskie (Poland), Berlin (Germany) and Lithuania. The categories focused on research and development, resource efficiency in SMEs, social innovation, sustainable urban development and the use of videos to promote EU regional policy.
The aim of the RegioStars Awards is to recognize good practice in regional development and to highlight original and inspiring projects which could prove a model for other regions.
The projects selected are all co-financed through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and/or the European Social Fund (ESF). The annual RegioStars Awards are open to all EU regions to submit projects which have received investment through EU Regional policy since 1st January 2000. Since its creation in 2008, the greatest numbers of applications have been received from Austria, Belgium, the Baltic countries and Wales in the UK.
OPEN DAYS 2013 from 7 to 10 October 2013 in Brussels, will provide the opportunity for the finalists to exhibit and explain their projects. The OPEN DAYS event brings together hundreds of political representatives, experts and practitioners to debate regional policy. This year's event comes at a crucial point as Europe's regions and cities will be finalizing their preparations for the 2014-2020 newly reformed EU Cohesion Policy.
- RegioStars 2014 Awards: Description of finalists' projects
- Open Days 2013 - #euopendays
- Winners of RegioStars 2013
- Twitter: @EU_Regional @JHahnEU #RegioStars
The Regional Competitiveness Index (RCI) was developed to measure the different dimensions of competitiveness at the regional level. The first edition was published in 2010. RCI 2013 reveals a strong regional dimension of competitiveness, which national level indicators cannot capture. The RCI shows the strengths and weaknesses of each of the EU NUTS2 regions. It can provide a guide to what each region should focus on, taking into account its specific situation and its overall level of development.
EU countries with a large gap or high variation in regional competitiveness should consider to what extent these gaps are harmful for their national competitiveness and if these gaps can be reduced. For example, the gap between the capital region and the second most competitive region in Romania, Slovakia and France is very wide, while regional competitiveness in Germany does not show any big jumps. Already in the 2010 edition of RCI, the lack of regional spill-overs was noted in particular around the capitals of some of the less developed EU countries. Although the crisis may have limited the potential growth in regional spill-overs, in the medium-term such spill-overs should be strengthened. The overall competitiveness of a country depends on the performance of all its regions and not just its capital region.
The Commission welcomes comments to this draft report by end of September 2013. These will be reflected in the final version of the study.
Please send your comments to the following e-mail address: REGIO-B1-HEAD-OF-UNIT@ec.europa.eu
Cohesion policy has been an active partner in helping regions to preserve and ensure the sustainable management of their natural assets. All over the EU, projects in Natura 2000 areas, the restoration of wetlands and floodplains, the development of green corridors and support to information systems for the monitoring of biodiversity were co-funded. Similar investments will be carried out between 2014 and 2020. In this framework this guide underlines the crucial interconnections which exist between nature, society and the economy. In particular it shows that investments in nature, biodiversity and green infrastructure are relevant for cohesion policy. Further, it emphasises how investments of the ERDF and Cohesion Fund in nature and green infrastructure can actually contribute to several policy objectives and deliver multiple benefits, in particular socio-economic development. And eventually it assists authorities and stakeholders with practical recommendations to improve the delivery of the co-funded programmes and projects.
Three years after its launch, the Committee of the Regions (CoR) takes stock of the "Innovation Union" Flagship Initiative. CoR, through its Europe 2020 Monitoring Platform, has launched a survey to assess this Flagship Initative, as seen from the local and regional perspective.
Deadline: 27 September 2013
Results of the survey will be presented during a conference devoted to the "Innovation Union" Flagship Initiative, to be held in Brussels on 27 November 2013.
Euronews aired the 3rd episode of Real Economy this week. This episode focuses on the reforms in Greece and how those aim to lift the country out of its sixth year of recession. It also provides information on how the Commission's Task Force for Greece (TFGR) and the Troika (the European Union, the European Central Bank and the IMF) help Greece to implement the reforms and attract more foreign investment to rebuild its economy. There is an interview with Kyriakos Mitsotakis, Greek Minister of Administrative Reform on the mobility scheme and the cutbacks within the public sector.
The Quality of Life at the sub-national level report investigates two important dimensions of quality of life at the sub-national level: living standards and health. This report combines both 'objective' and 'subjective' data or in other words observable data and perception-based data. For the living standards dimensions, the report covers absolute poverty, relative poverty and earnings and income. The health dimension covers objective health and subjective health issues. Last but not least, the report proposes a way forward on how to assess inequalities within regions. This report is the first of its kind to address quality of life issues at the regional level across the entire EU and reveals significant differences in quality of life between regions within and between countries. The analysis also highlights that while in most regions with objective and subjective health indicators are in agreement, in some regions the subjective indicators are considerable better or worse than the objective indicators. The report combines information from a wide range of sources including SILC, the UK (USS) and German (SOEP) household survey and Eurobarometer, Eurostat and other.
In the framework of the EU-China Partnership on Sustainable Urbanisation launched on May 2012 in Brussels by President Barroso and Vice Premier Li Keqiang, a high-level delegation headed by Mr. Xu Rui Sheng, Vice-Governor of Guangdong (China) paid a visit to DG REGIO last 25 July and met Director General Walter Deffaa to discuss future cooperation on urban development.
Guangdong is the most populous region in China (105 million people) and one of the richest (the third highest GDP per capita among provinces). For the past 30 years Guangdong's GDP growth rate has averaged 15% a year. Provincial capital, Guangzhou (Canton) (12.7 million people) and economic hub, Shenzhen are two of the most populous and important cities in China. The region exports as much as South Korea. Politically and economically, Guangdong remains one of the most liberal Chinese provinces and one of the most innovative and most urbanized regions in China.
The two sides discussed issues relating to urban development in the European Union and in Guangdong: the promotion of better approaches to key areas such as integrated approach to development, the management of urbanization processes, developing rural and urban inter-relations, promoting sustainable urban development, protecting historical and cultural heritage and improved administrative capacities in urban planning.
Both sides agreed to strengthen the exchange of information on good practices on the topics below and to promote a more decentralized cooperation bringing city authorities in the EU and Guangdong together, exposing Guangdong cities to the EU's public and private providers of investment and services for economic development. At this respect, Guangdong will provide a list of challenges and particular areas for cooperation to be offered to new potential European partners.
European Commissioner for Regional Policy, Johannes Hahn has today presented a proposal to reform the EU Solidarity Fund. The plans, adopted today by the European Commission, will make the fund more responsive and simpler to use with clearer criteria as to who can benefit.
Since its creation in 2002, the Solidarity Fund has responded to 52 disasters across Europe including earthquakes, forest fires, drought, storms and floods. 23 countries have been supported with more than €3.2 billion. If today's proposals are approved by the European Parliament and EU member states, disaster-hit countries and regions can expect significant improvements to the way the Solidarity Fund works.
The new legislative proposal simplifies the existing rules so that aid can be paid out more rapidly than is currently the case. The plans also introduce the possibility of advance payments for the first time. They spell out more clearly who and what will be eligible, particularly for regional disasters. As well as this, the reform encourages Member States to put disaster prevention and risk management strategies higher on the agenda. The principles of the Fund are unchanged as is the way it is financed, outside the normal EU budget.
- To clarify the scope of the Solidarity Fund limiting it to natural disasters and extending it to drought.
- Clearer rules on eligibility for regional disasters, introducing one single damage threshold for aid - 1.5% of regional gross domestic product
- Possibility of advance payments for the first time: 10% of anticipated contribution, capped at €30 million
- Shorter administrative procedure by merging two stages of approval and implementation into one agreement
- Introduction of measures to encourage disaster risk prevention strategies: reporting requirements and possible conditions for aid.
Question and answer : MEMO/13/723
"Regional Policy: a Motor for Growth in the current crisis?" - Debate with Commissioner Hahn and Professor Wohlgemut from Open Europe
The EC Representation in Berlin and Open Europe Berlin jointly organised a debate on EU regional policy as an investment and growth policy in the current crisis. Titled "EU Regional Policy: a Motor for Growth or a Waste of Money?" the lunchtime debate at the EC Representation was attended by a wide audience including representatives from NGO's, ministries, parliamentarians, journalists and academics.
The debate primarily reflected on the new reformed cohesion policy that is currently being finalised and the relevance of regional funds for all Member States and regions in Europe including richer countries.
Commissioner Hahn explained that the new programming of the structural funds as from 2014 responds to the call for a more effective and streamlined regional policy by focusing the projects on the 2020 Growth and Jobs Strategy. In addition, the new approach to regional policy means that the spending is much more linked to specific conditions. Cohesion policy is also gradually shifting from an infrastructure oriented policy to an investment policy stimulating economy. Commissioner Hahn was also very clear that a limitation of structural support to the weakest regions is out of question. "We need the funding in all EU regions in order to guarantee a widespread 2020 strategy implementation", Hahn said.
A new background paper "EU Cohesion Policy, Contributing to Employment and Growth in Europe" was also being launched in Berlin.
For further information:
Background paper "EU Cohesion Policy: Contributing to Employment and Growth in Europe"
Global economic integration, technological change, and rapid development in the emerging world economies are reshaping the world’s urban landscapes. Rapid urbanisation is underway in many parts of the world, with new types of metropolitan areas emerging there; at the same time, existing major metropolitan areas are expanding their borders, changing their internal organisation, and being more deeply integrated into wider metropolitan regions. These processes are bringing prosperity to many urban regions, but such prosperity is selective, with other areas finding it difficult to find new roles in the contemporary economy and hence suffering from outmigration and lower incomes. The global urban world has thus opened up new forms of polarization and divergence in growth and incomes. Added to these diverse processes are pressures from such forces as climate change and citizen demands for participation and equity. In this light, city-regions around the world are in need of innovations in infrastructure, urban governance, economic development strategies, and finance. At the same time, the obstacles to such innovations, from existing political arrangements, entrenched interests, segregation, and poorly adapted theories and models, are also very powerful.
The Regional Studies Association International Conference 2013 on Global Urbanisation: Challenges and Prospects presents a timely opportunity to discuss these important issues, to establish the need and nature of future research imperatives, and to address the concerns and challenges confronting policymakers and practitioners.
The Commission has issued a background paper on the role of cohesion policy in supporting employment and growth.
The Union's cohesion policy – funded with EUR 346 billion from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), the European Social Fund (ESF) and the Cohesion Fund - represents 35 % of the Union's budget over the period 2007-2013. Together with the co-financing provided by Member States, cohesion policy accounts for a very significant proportion of public investment in Europe. As part of the essential economic policy package of macro-economic and fiscal stability, structural reforms and growth enhancing measures, EU cohesion policy is making a significant contribution to investments in employment and growth in Europe.
The policy is now delivering significant results. SMEs, business support and innovation for growth are in particular key investment areas in all Member States supported by the Structural Funds, and notably the ERDF. SME and other enterprises benefit from both direct investments into business and from other contracts and services funded through EU cohesion policy.
The future programming period of 2014-2020 will strengthen the coherence of investment priorities with the priorities for structural reforms and the need to promote growth and jobs to make progress towards the Europe 2020 goals.
The European Commission has approved an investment of €10 million from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) to complete the restoration of the maritime character of the Mont Saint Michel in Basse Normandie, France.
With the restoration, the project aims to protect the biodiversity and ecosystem, and reduce the CO2 emissions on the Mont Saint Michel site. It will also improve the beauty of the site, and hence increase tourism. The project involves hydraulic works on the upstream of the dam to enhance the storage capacity, the destruction of the old parking at the foot of the Mont, the replacement of the old dam and the construction of a new bridge walkway integrated within the landscape.
Debate: "Regional Policy: a Motor for Growth in the current crisis?" - Commissioner Hahn debates with Open Europe in Berlin
The EC Representation in Berlin and Open Europe Berlin are jointly organising a debate on EU regional policy as an investment and growth policy in the current crisis. Commissioner Johannes Hahn and Professor Michael Wohlgemuth are participating in the debate. The debate will reflect on the radical reforms to the policy currently being finalised and the relevance of regional funds for all member states and regions in Europe. Titled "EU Regional Policy: a Motor for Growth or a Waste of Money?" the lunchtime debate at the EC Representation will be attended by a wide audience including representatives from NGO's, ministries, parliamentarians, journalists and academics. A new paper "EU Cohesion Policy, Contributing to Employment and Growth in Europe" is also being launched in Berlin .
The debate will take place on Friday 19 July between 11:00 – 12.30 a.m. at the EC Representation Berlin.
For further information:
Euronews issues this week the 2nd episode "Finding work for a lost generation" of the series "Real Economy". The effects of the economic crisis on employment have a severe impact on the European youth. The EU youth unemployment rate is more than twice as high as the adult rate. In some countries, such as Spain or Greece, the figures for youth unemployment are reaching unacceptably high levels. This poses a serious threat to social cohesion and has a long-term negative impact on growth and competitiveness.
The episode analyses youth entrepreneurial initiatives currently undertaken by the European Union. The EU Structural Funds have already made an important contribution to the on-going fight against youth unemployment. Laszlo Andor, Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion is also interviewed to comment on the proposal of the Youth Unemployment Initiative (YEI). The Youth Employment Initiative (YEI) was proposed by the European Council in February 2013. The initiative aims to support all regions with a level of youth unemployment above 25%. It is intended to allocate a budget of € 6 billion to the Youth Employment Initiative.
Member States and regions must lose no time in preparing the next generation of EU programmes for growth
EU Commissioner for Regional Policy, Johannes Hahn has told Member States and regions there is no time to lose in planning the EU structural funds programmes for 2014-2020. The call to action comes after members of the European Parliament's Regional Development Committee adopted a series of reports that in principle agree a radical reform of Regional Policy.
Key elements of reform confirmed by today's vote:
Focusing investments on key areas for growth and jobs as outlined in the Europe 2020 strategy through a common set of rules which apply to all five European Structural and Investment Funds (European Regional Development Fund, European Social Fund, Cohesion Fund, European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and European Maritime and Fisheries Fund)
The majority of the budget to be concentrated on few priorities closely linked to the EU 2020 growth strategy. In particular:
Between 50% and 80% of the ERDF budget concentrated on measures to support innovation and R&D, the digital agenda, the competitiveness of SMEs, and the shift towards a low carbon economy.
On low carbon economy a further obligation to allocate at least between 12% and 20% to energy efficiency and renewable energy.
Member States and regions to establish clear and measurable targets on the impact of the investments. Progress to be measured and communicated.
Measures to cut red tape and simplify the use of EU funds: more common rules among all funds, more targeted but fewer reporting demands, more use of digital technology (“e-cohesion”).
ERDF funded projects “Innova Saude” and “Hospital 2050” among the Reference Site Awards for Active and Healthy Ageing
On 2 July 2013, 32 cities and regions across Europe have been rewarded for new ways of helping older people. These award winners have been implementing innovative technological, social or organisational solutions to enhance the efficiency of health and social care systems, and have been presented with awards from the European Commission Vice-President Neelie Kroes, responsible for the Digital Agenda.
Reference Sites are coalitions of regions, cities, integrated hospitals or care organisations that aim to provide concrete examples of innovative services with proven added value to citizens and care systems in EU regions. Some of them have contributed to growth and job creation in their areas, many have extended elements of their best practice from local to regional or national level.
The Galician Department of Health was one of the reference sites receiving an award. The Galician Department of Health leads the Public Health system. Over the years it has developed several strategies to address the needs of the elderly, representing a significant quota of the total population (23% of the citizens are aged 65+). The implemented actions focused in particular on the integrated management of chronic patients.
The “Innova Saude” and “Hospital 2050” are two strategic programs within the region of Galicia that are implemented via respectively 9 and 14 innovation projects. The projects (timeframe 2011-2015) are funded with an investment of over 90M€ and received €79.2 million from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). The main goals of these programmes are to build the future model of Galicia Health System and provide a sustainable model for patient-centred healthcare services.
As of today noon, the registration to the 11th edition of the major event on regional and urban policy is open. Choose between 101 workshops and debates on the topics related to the new features of the 2014-2020 programming period, to the ways to find synergies between different EU funds and policies and to share solutions to joint challenges. Don´t wait too long – the places are limited!
Cohesion policy provides significant financial support to Member States and regions in order to invest in waste water treatment infrastructures. In the programming period 2007-13, about EUR 14.4 billion are planned to co-fund related projects while significant funding was already invested in this area in the previous programming period of cohesion policy. In order to increase the environmental benefits of these infrastructures, specific Green Public Procurement criteria on waste water infrastructure have now been developed with a specific focus on reducing the costs of these installations over their lifetime. These criteria could in particular, where relevant, help public authorities building or upgrading their waste water infrastructure in the 2014-2020 programming period through cohesion policy. The guidance is at the moment only available in English. Translations into all EU languages will be made available in the second semester of 2013
Euronews issues this week the first episode of the series "Real Economy". Real Economy focuses on the macro-economic policies in Europe that have an impact on the daily lives of the citizens, looking for solutions that work. The series kicks off with an episode on "Growth in the European Union".
The episode on "Growth" provides an overview of the cycles of growth in the EU, the factors influencing growth, and the differences between EU countries' growth trajectories and the reasons behind it. It also examines the different paths and measures taken until now by policy makers and the private sector to address productivity and competition.
The episode features an ERDF-funded project "UPTEC", the Science and Technology Park of the University of Porto in Portugal. This is an outstanding example of how to bring research and business closer together through its strategy of sharing research findings and fostering local entrepreneurship. Co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund, its aim is to create new jobs and new businesses in knowledge based sectors in the north of Portugal. In the first five years, its target of employing 300 people has been far exceeded, as it now employs around 900 specialists.
Episode 1 also features Olli Rehn, the EU Commissioner for Economic and Monetary Affairs as Guest Host. Olli Rehn answers pointed questions about the EU’s crisis measures and the need for coordinated action by European institutions.
Episode 1 – Real Economy "Growth in the European Union"
REGIO STARS 2013 winner – Smart Growth: Science and Technology Park of the University of Porto (UPTEC) – North of Portugal
Project of the Week: UPTEC as a catalyst for structural change in the Portuguese Region Norte
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
The European Union welcomes Croatia as the 28th European Union Member State. Croatia applied to the European Union in 2003, and has succeeded in making all the reforms needed to join the EU on 1 July 2013.
Croatia will receive EUR 450 million Structural Funds as from accession for its first 6 months of membership. The budgetary proposal, currently under discussion between the EU institutions, sees Croatia being allocated around EUR 8 billion for the period 2014-2020. This investment will serve to reinforce the implementation and success of the reforms which are currently undertaken by the national authorities. They will be used with clear pre-set objectives in view of strengthening economic, environmental and inclusive growth in the country and the regions in line with the Europe 2020 objectives.
The funds will be invested in sectors where the needs are the most pressing, in particular strengthening the competitiveness of the country, increase of labour market participation and better matching of education and vocational training to the current market needs. Croatia is also encouraged to use the funds to strengthen its own assets, like the preservation and promotion of its outstanding natural resources, which can only have positive consequences for the tourism industry.
Croatia is currently involved in EU-funded cooperation programmes with Slovenia and Hungary, among others and will join forces with neighbours in the Balkans in the 2014-2020 funding period. It is also already an active member of the EU Strategy for the Danube Region.
- Information on cohesion policy for Croatia
- Website www.croatia-in-the-eu.eu
- VIDEO with all the Commissioners: "Welcome Croatia"
- VIDEO: Croatia is joining in the EU! What do you think of when you think #Croatia? EU Commissioners give it a go here: http://youtu.be/cYnnU8xQhvI and here: http://youtu.be/GRqYtuqlEPs #croatiaeu #eu28
- Croatia in the EU in figures - Eurostat
- Panorama 46: The EU welcomes Croatia
The RAG sets out the criteria under which the Commission will approve regional aid as being compatible with the internal market. For State aid under Operational Programmes, the new RAG includes a number of simplifications of the approval conditions. Also, European Territorial Cooperation is for the first time specifically addressed in the new RAG.
The new RAG will apply as of 1 July 2014. For the period from 1 January to 30 June 2014, the previous RAG has been extended.
Between 2008 and 2012, unemployment increased in four out of five regions in the EU. In addition, GDP shrank in two out of three regions between 2007 and 2010. This crisis has a widespread effect including both more and less developed regions. As a result, the disparities between EU regions have started to grow again after a long period of convergence.
This dramatic reversal of fortune is highlighted in the 8th progress report on economic, social and territorial cohesion: 'The regional and urban dimension of the crisis' adopted by the European Commission today. It reveals the staggering reductions in regional employment and Gross Domestic Product, housing prices and disposable household income. It shows that while Foreign Direct Investment and exports volumes recovered quickly from the crisis, import volumes are still significantly below its pre-crisis level.
From today businesses around Europe will have easier access to much needed finance as the European Commission expands the single portal on EU finance, to include EU Structural Funds: the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the European Social Fund (ESF). Launched last month, the new single portal on EU finance provides easy, complete and up-to-date information on how entrepreneurs and SMEs can access over €100 billion of EU financing from various 2007-2013 programmes. Today’s additions will double the number of partner banks and funds to over 1 000., further strengthening a vital information source for SME financing through guarantees, loans and venture capital (MEMO/13/606).
Access to finance is one of the most pressing problems facing SMEs in Europe. In the last two years almost one-third of the SMEs applying for bank loans were refused or ended up getting less than requested. This month's European Small Business Finance Outlook confirms that the business environment for European SMEs is getting worse and euro area banks have tightened their credit standards. Information and access to EU funding is more important for businesses than ever before. Structural funds are already providing help for SMEs of around 70 billion euros for the 2007-13 period.
MEMO/13/393 - Improving access to finance for SMEs: key to economic recovery
Partnership in action: EU Outermost Regions present investment and growth plans for 2014-20 to European Commission
EU Commissioner for Regional Policy, Johannes Hahn will today receive the strategic growth plans for Europe’s eight Outermost Regions (OR). The Commissioner, who is responsible for coordinating all EU policies for these regions will be discussing the Action Plans in Brussels with Presidents and Vice-Presidents from The Azores, the Canary Islands, Guadeloupe, French Guiana, Madeira, Martinique, La Réunion and St Martin. This is the first time the Outermost Regions have been asked to present this kind of individual strategy, which will cover not just how they plan to make the best use of EU structural funds but also how they think other EU policies can help their development. The plans identify which specific characteristics and strengths they aim to capitalise on with a view to diversifying and modernising their economies.
The Action Plans were requested by the Commission one year ago in the communication: The Outermost regions of the European Union: towards a partnership for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth.
The strategies are toolkits for 2014-2020: not only in the use of Structural Funds, but how the OR can benefit from EU policies more broadly. They set out the steps to be taken on the regions’ individual paths to fulfilling Europe2020 growth goals, addressing issues such as youth unemployment and boosting local competitiveness. Today's event will also be attended by representatives from a number of Commission Directorates responsible for Maritime Policy, Employment, Agriculture, Transport, Trade, Development and the Single Market.
Some of the principal themes covered in today’s Action Plans include:
- Improved access to the EU single market – focusing in particular on: Transport networks, people mobility, maritime dimension and infrastructural needs;
- Enhancing Competitiveness through economic modernisation and diversification focussing on agriculture, research & innovation and tourism;
- Better regional geographic integration;
- Social development - job creation, boosting skills and qualifications with a sharp focus on youth, education and employment;
- Mainstreaming climate change mitigation across all policies
The 2nd annual European Cooperation Day will take place on 21st September, bringing together around 70 European Territorial Cooperation and neighbouring countries showing the benefits of cooperating across borders.
Local events will be taking place across Europe from 9-22 September. For more information, visit the European Cooperation Day website
To start the promotion of this year's campaign, INTERACT has produced a short trailer video which includes this year's motto "I am part of it". Planned future productions will showcase further good practice cooperation projects.
On Friday 14 June, Commissioner Hahn attended the launch of a scientific research site in Romania that houses the world's most powerful laser. Named ELI-NP (Extreme Light Infrastructure – Nuclear Physics), the project has been co-financed with EU regional funds of around 150 million EUR.
This multidisciplinary pan-European research project will be the only European centre for high-level research on ultra-high laser and laser-matter interaction. It aims to provide scientists, engineers and doctors with laser powers equivalent to 100.000 times the power produced by all plants supplying electricity on Earth. The ELI-NP research site will attract researchers and students from across the world to study extreme light applications for the benefit of society and should also put Europe on the map of nuclear physics research using high-tech laser technology.
Primarily based in Romania (located on the outskirts of Bucharest), the ELI-NP project also includes two other facilities, one in Hungary and the second in the Czech Republic. It is part of a research consortium that brings together 40 partners from 13 Member States. By 2018, ELI-NP will employ 262 researchers including 36 support staff. The total cost of the project comes to more than €356 million EU regional and national funds combined. The facility is scheduled to become operational by 2015.
We want you to help us celebrate projects which are making a real difference to improve citizens' lives and benefiting your local community.
For your chance to win €1000 worth of camera equipment, plus a trip to Brussels in October, take a photo of any project with a plaque or billboard highlighting EU investment and showing the EU flag.
Share up to 3 such photos here to enter the Europe in my Region photo competition 2013.
The winners will be chosen by popular vote and by an independent jury of communications and photography professionals.
The competition opens today and the deadline to submit your entry is 23 August 2013, 12:00 Central European Summer Time.
The Regional Studies Association is looking for submissions of abstracts for two conferences that they are organising in the month of November 2013.
The first conference "Looking Forward: the Future of Regional Studies" will take place on Friday 1 November 2013 at the Manchester University in Manchester, the United Kingdom. The conference targets in particular early career researchers to give them the opportunity to identify and discuss future lines of research and action for regional studies. Abstracts should cover one of the following areas of research: innovation and knowledge, financialisation and regional development, new challenges in urban planning, global production networks, evolutionary economic geography, foreign direct investment and regional development, climate change and sustainability, and urban and regional governance.
The second conference "Mobilising Regions: Territorial Strategies for Growth" will be held on 22 November 2013 at the Holiday Inn London Bloomsbury in London, the United Kingdom. The conference will focus on how regions are being mobilised in support of or opposition to particular territorial development models and strategies. It will also establish the need and nature of future research imperatives and address the concerns and challenges confronting policymakers and practitioners. Contributions are invited to focus primarily on one of the following themes: new sites and forms of territorial cooperation, cooperation and resistance around particular territorial development strategies and models, empirical and conceptual understanding of how regions are mobilised, the (im)mobility of territorial development models and the role of leadership in mobilising regions.
The deadline for submission of abstracts for both events is 12 July 2013.
Call for Papers – "Looking Forward – the Future of Regional Studies", 1 November 2013
It is our aim to inform citizens about the principles and rules governing the EU cohesion policy and to communicate about its added value and main achievements. For this purpose, we produce a number of products (publications, videos, events). Please evaluate them and help us to get better through an on-line survey. Filling in the survey should not take more than 5 minutes. Thank you very much for your help.
The EU Commissioner for Regional Policy, Johannes Hahn will today mark an historic moment between Bulgaria and Romania, and the neighbouring regions of Vidin and Calafat, when he attends the inaugural opening of a bridge linking the two countries. Commissioner Hahn will be accompanied by President Plevneliev and Prime Minister, Oresharski of Bulgaria, as well as Romanian Prime Minister Ponta. The recently named ‘New Europe Bridge’ has received €106 million in EU investment and is only the second bridge along the countries' 630 km border. It is of vital strategic importance for the EU: a key link in a route that could stretch from Northern Europe, the Baltics, through Central Europe, Romania and Bulgaria, and eventually, to Greece.
Construction began on the Bridge project in 2007, but the plan was already under discussion nearly 15 years before. The EU Strategy for the Danube Region, with its unique cooperation method, combined with the intervention of Commissioner Hahn, pushed the project to completion.
The European Commission joins forces with the European Parliament and URBACT on 18th June to present a recently published study "Urban Development in the EU: 50 Projects Supported by the ERDF in 2007-2013" and a collection of 6 thematic reports: "Cities of Tomorrow: Action Today".
The study by the Commission's Directorate-General for Regional and Urban Policy and the Parliament's Urban Intergroup presents 50 projects which received ERDF investment and offers an information package for selected cities, with detailed information on projects and results. The study represents a 'state of play' on how the cities have put local urban policies into action with ERDF investment from 2007-13. The cities highlighted reveal interesting ideas, solutions and cooperation or collaboration methods serving as inspiration for other urban areas and managing authorities. A detailed presentation of the study will be provided and will be followed by a panel discussion.
The second event presents 6 publications responding to the key urban challenges of the 21st century, set out in the Cities of Tomorrow report. They demonstrate that an integrated and participative approach is required, linked to the environmental, social and economic pillars of Europe2020. Participants will have an opportunity to find out about URBACT’s wider capitalisation work, and to experience a panel debate with URBACT experts and EU political representatives.
'Structural Funds must be used to promote and stimulate Greece's economy' Commissioner Hahn tells members of the country's parliament
Commissioner Hahn has continued his visit to Greece's 13 regions today to help business and local representatives make the best use of EU Structural Funds for the country's recovery.
After a visit to the Eastern Macedonia-Thrace region - one of the most remote parts of the country, Commissioner Hahn is in Athens today to meet Prime Minister Samaras, Minister of Development Hatzidakis, and to address 3 parliamentary committees.
He told the MPs: “From the very beginning, EU Regional Policy has been about growth … promoting the economy with sustainable projects that will contribute to Greece's transformation.” Speaking to members of the Environment, EU Affairs and Regional Development committees, the Commissioner underlined the need both to speed up the use of EU investment in the current period and to ensure that no time is lost in planning for the next round of programmes.
On 21 May, the Commission adopted a proposal to modify the General Regulation in order to extend the 10% top-up until the end of 2007-13 and to give Romania and Slovakia more time to spend their allocations.
The proposal, COM(2013)301, will now be discussed with the European Parliament and the Council
This issue’s highlight is the role of Cohesion policy in returning growth to Europe. Cohesion policy is the investment arm of the EU budget, aiming to boost growth and competitiveness through capitalising on regional strengths. The policy will, in the future, reinforce even more the achievement of the 'Europe 2020' objectives and will focus on sustainable investment with a more effective use of EU, national and regional investment.
Other features include the EU PEACE programme, seeking to build reconciliation of divided communities in Northern Ireland and in the border region of Ireland, as well as an article on the key role of cities - the engines of the European economy. The Commission has recently created an extensive database of best urban development good practice in order to provide a detailed overview of projects, which could be a source of inspiration for cities, managing authorities and other stakeholders.
Solidarity and Flexibility: Commission decision helps crisis-hit Member States to spend Cohesion Policy Funds
Measures to help crisis-hit countries to use much needed EU funds have been proposed today by the European Commission. The measures would help these Member States to tackle youth unemployment, to support small and medium sized business and to pay for key infrastructure projects. In the absence of this proposed measure, Cohesion Policy investments for growth could be lost because of a lack of time to spend the money or because of the difficulty of finding national and private co-finance in the current economic climate. The proposal, prompted by requests from EU governments and from the European Council, will now be sent to the European Parliament and the EU's Council of Ministers for adoption.
Commenting on the proposal, Commissioner for Regional Policy, Johannes Hahn said: "We at the European Commission are ready to show solidarity and flexibility to those hit badly by the crisis so they can get back on the path to growth. Cohesion Policy is one of the Union's main tools to do this. The tailor-made measures we have adopted today will help these countries make use of much needed investments: to create sustainable jobs by supporting small and medium sized business and helping them access finance, to help young people into work and to encourage innovation and research. This will be not just for the good of the countries involved but for Europe as a whole. But I should add that while this proposal does offer breathing space it cannot be a substitute for reform and acceleration in using the funds."
The 4th WIRE Conference will take place at University College Cork, on the 6-7 of June 2013. It is co-organized by Enterprise Ireland and the European Commission and supported by FP7, the 7th Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development.
The objective of the Conference is to bring together representatives of European regional networks and clusters, FP7 (Research Potential and Regions of Knowledge) and InterReg communities, industry representative groups and companies with regional policy makers and implementation groups, and European commission officials to contribute to the debate on research, innovation and regional policy development and to better position regional actors to enhance policy formation for effective regional development.
For more information regarding the Conference and registration, please see www.wire2013.eu
Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) account for 99% of European business and are thus a powerful engine of the economy. SMEs, just like any other companies, are subject to change, but restructuring is often carried out with large-scale objectives - neglecting the specific characteristics of these enterprises.
Eurofound, the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions has examined the main challenges faced by these businesses to highlight the complexity of the issue to policymakers, particularly when it comes to plans and support measures. The Foundation has carried out a comparative research of 85 companies and presented the results to members of the European Parliament. The study focuses on various opportunities to restructure SMEs and suggest that policymakers rethink eligibility criteria and provide schemes for finance and a 'one-stop-shop' to support SMEs.
On 29 May, the Committee of the Regions will hold a conference on the role of Europe's regions and cities in fighting poverty and social exclusion. Topics of the one-day event will be local aspects of the recently adopted Social Investment Package, urban and rural dimensions of poverty and social exclusion, and transnational cooperation between regional and local authorities on these issues. Among the speakers, the will be members of the CoR, colleagues from the European Commission, representatives from local authorities and stakeholder organisations, and academics presenting positions, cases studies and funding opportunities during the period 2014-2020. Programme and registration: http://cor.europa.eu/en/news/events/Pages/poverty-social-exclusion.aspx.
The event can be followed live on the internet on 29 May between 9:30 and 16:00 CET: www.cor.europa.eu.
Have you ever wished that there was a more efficient way of working with your partners than long meetings or endless email exchanges? Could you do your job better if you were able to share experiences with people who face similar challenges?
RegioNetwork is an online community for professionals working on European Union regional and urban policy. Participation is free and provides access to a wide range of features designed to support you in your work:
- Use groups to collaborate and work towards specific objectives
- Easily search and filter information and conversations that are relevant to you
- Share your achievements and connect with other professionals who share similar interests
- Test different opinions or options by organising a poll
Examples of professionals from the EU regional and urban policy community that are already using RegioNetwork include the communication officers from the Managing Authorites, as well as the evaluators who assess the impact of the operational programmes.
Go ahead and join RegioNetwork today!
On 13 May 2013, the Committee of the Regions and the European Investment Bank will hold a conference on the state of sub-national public finances and the question of how to maximise the impact of the EU budget 2014-2020 in view of investment needs at local level.- Among the distinguished speakers, there will be Prime Minister Juncker, EIB President Hoyer, Commissioner Barnier, CoR President Valcàrcel as well as Walter Deffaa, Director-General of the Regional and Urban Policy DG. Programme, registration and background information: www.cor.europa.eu/finances
You can follow the event live on the internet between 9:30 and 15:30 CET: www.cor.europa.eu
Environment: Investing in green infrastructure will bring multiple returns to nature, society and people
The European Commission adopted today a new strategy for encouraging the use of green infrastructure, and for ensuring that the enhancement of natural processes becomes a systematic part of spatial planning. Green Infrastructure is a tried and tested tool that uses nature to provide ecological, economic and social benefits. Instead of building flood protection infrastructure, for example, a green infrastructure solution would be to allow a natural wetland to absorb the excess water from heavy rain.
A young scientist from a Czech research institute established in 2011 with European Union funding with the aim of becoming a leading European centre of science has made an important genetic discovery which could lead to more effective treatment for some forms of hereditary breast and ovarian cancer.
Research carried out by Michal Zimmermann, a postgraduate student of Dr. Ctirad Hofr from the Central European Institute of Technology (CEITEC), has revealed that the loss of the gene Rif1, or a mutation of it which makes it inactive, is able to make cancer cells more resistant to standard treatment for these two cancers by halting and reversing the effects of chemotherapy.
Situated in Brno, Czech Republic, and supported by funding from the EU’s Regional Development Fund, CEITEC is a centre of scientific excellence in the fields of life sciences and advanced materials and technologies.
Michael Zimmermann made his discovery while working as part of his postgraduate studies at the prestigious Rockefeller University in New York, and published his research in January 2013 in the Journal Science.
About CEITEC : High ambitions for new European Centre of Excellence
The Outset project, from the UK, was awarded the Grand Jury Prize and was selected for its unique approach to supporting start-ups by helping society’s most vulnerable groups to find work through self-employment and enterprise. The Outset service was developed in Cornwall through the ERDF Convergence commissioning approach, before being successfully replicated in the South West Competitiveness area and elsewhere in the UK . In the last three years alone, Outset has created over 1200 new businesses and 1400 new jobs, and enabled these disadvantaged and under-represented groups raise over £1m in finance. Many of these not for profit programmes have been funded by ERDF. The latest stats, success stories and evidence are here: www.outset.org
Hundreds of events, two countries, one common goal – EU-funded projects in Belgium and the Netherlands open their doors
In May, 2013 hundreds of projects financed by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) will be showcased in Belgium and the Netherlands to demonstrate the positive impact of EU cohesion policy on the lives of European citizens.
In Belgium, the province of Antwerp will open the doors to their EU-funded projects this year. The event entitled ‘Europe in your Neighbourhood’ will be co-sponsored by Enterprise Flanders along with the city and province of Antwerp. The centerpiece of the event will be a Citizens’ dialogue with European Commissioner for Trade, Karel de Gucht and a showcase of ERDF-funded projects in Park Spoor Noord, Antwerp. The park itself, a popular recreational site, is an excellent example of how cohesion policy can contribute to social and economic transformation in the heart of a city. The city of Antwerp and the province received investment worth some EUR 80 million in the current programming period.
The event will be held on 8 May, 2013 in Park Spoor Noord in Antwerp, Belgium.
Projects receiving ERDF and other EU investment will be celebrated across the Netherlands too: 140 projects will open their doors to the public free of charge this May during a series of events called ‘Europe Open Days’. The Northern-Netherlands Provinces Alliance (SNN) will organise this major event for the third time to showcase the most sustainable and innovative projects launched in the last 6 years across the Netherlands and to bring citizens closer to these achievements. One of the highlights will be a 3-day event in the inspiring museum complex of Drents Museum in Assen. The Netherlands has been allocated about EUR 2 billion cohesion policy funding in the 2007-2013 period.
EU Solidarity Fund: Commission proposes €14.6 million to support Slovenia, Croatia and Austria after floods disaster
European Commissioner for Regional Policy, Johannes Hahn has today announced an aid package from the EU Solidarity Fund (EUSF) of over €14.6 million in response to serious flooding in Slovenia in October and November 2012. Neighbouring countries Austria and Croatia also suffered lesser damages as a direct result of the floods and will benefit from the grant in order to fund their emergency operations in the aftermath of the disaster.
Commissioner Hahn, who is also responsible for the EUSF, commented: "Today’s proposal is an expression of the Union’s solidarity with Slovenia as well as with the parts of Croatia and Austria which were affected. The amount of funding proposed will help to offset the financial burden that they have incurred in restoring infrastructure and in taking emergency measures. It will help these affected regions to get back on their feet. The Commission is proposing an amending budget so that the Council and Parliament can make the resources available to reduce the negative effects on the Slovenian economy and its neighbours.
In line with the rules of the Solidarity Fund, the Commission proposes a total of €14.6m to be granted to the three countries, of which €14.08m for Slovenia, €286,587 for Croatia and €240,000 for Austria.
The focus of REGIO's actions in the field of international cooperation, supported by the European Parliament through the Preparatory Action 'Enhancing regional and local cooperation through the promotion of EU regional policy on a global scale', is increasingly geared towards promoting more decentralized cooperation bringing regional and city authorities in the EU and third countries together. Such cooperation does more than promote the understanding of the European socio-economic model in third countries, and one important additional effect has been to expose the actors in third countries to the EU's public and private (business) providers of investment and services for regional and urban development.
A recent example of the latter can be seen in the technical assistance project, “EU-Latin America cooperation on regional systems of innovation”, which has just been completed, and which brought together the Latin American regions of Cordoba (Argentina) and Santa Catarina (Brazil) together with the EU's Emilia-Romagna and Baden-Württemberg regions. The project was inspired by the work in the EU on Regional Innovation Systems and was intended to help the Latin American regions to improve governance arrangements bringing together the key actors working on innovation and to promote SME access to innovation. It focused on two sectoral clusters (the agro-food and biotechnology sectors, respectively, with a particular emphasis on biotechnology applied to agriculture and agro-food, ICT and energy) that have an important place in the local economies in both the participating EU and Latin America regions, as well as having good potential for further development.
The interventions at the closing conference of the project, which took place in Chapecó (Santa Catarina, Brazil) from 5-8 March 2013, demonstrated the desire of the authorities in both UE and Latin America to continue and reinforce interregional exchanges and the cooperation on regional innovation policies. It confirmed the interest the project held for the private sector as seen in the involvement of many firms drawn from each side. The result has been that on both continents more than 40 firms participated, and resulted in a number of EU agencies and firms exporting services, including know-how, to Latin American firms in Cordoba and Santa Catarina. Indeed, EU agencies and firms were attracted to the project partly by their interest in gaining insight into the functioning of the market in these two emerging and dynamic regions of Latin America as a basis for developing business ties and trading links.
For instance, the Province of Cordoba has already envisaged a series of follow-up activities of interest to their local stakeholders: promoting the development of linkages between Latin American companies and the agro-business and mechatronics sectors in Emilia Romagna, through the services of Reggio Emilia Innovazione; strengthening and formalizing the linkages between specific Latin American clusters (e.g. Cluster Quesero of Villa María, Córdoba) with industrial research laboratories and consortia (e.g. Parmigiano-Reggiano Consortium); facilitating the participation of Latin American agro-food SMEs in the European fairs (e.g. "R2B – Research to business" in Bologna; "Nutrire il pianeta, energia per la Vita" in Milan); promoting the inclusion and involvement of Latin American companies in the European Enterprise Network with the support of Baden-Württemberg institutions. At the same time, a number of joint biotech research and development projects are under discussion with a view to applying jointly for EU research support in the EU and Germany.
Regional policies and practices aiming to enhance regional development and participation will have an increasingly crucial role in Brazil and Argentina as this particular project has confirmed. Within this trend, regional innovation policies have a key role in bringing together a set of locally-based policies such as education, training, business services to SME’s, applied industrial research and technology transfer.
The European Commission has today adopted a reprogramming plan that will help promote growth in Cyprus and strengthen the impact of EU regional funds there. The decision to redirect €21 million worth of Regional Funds is intended to help the country deal with the current socio-economic crisis and ensure a quicker delivery of available investments particularly when it comes to supporting small and medium sized business and the employment of young people. This revision was requested by Cyprus earlier this year and has been given added political momentum in the last few weeks. The decision will see funds from lesser performing regional policy programmes being redirected to where the funds are likely to have more impact for growth and jobs in the shorter term.
Improved carbon management with EU Regional Policy
The CO2MPARE model supports national and regional authorities in making balanced decisions for their investment portfolio under their EU Regional Policy Operational Programmes (OPs), by estimating the carbon emissions related to investments made under an OP. By assessing the emission impact per euro spent for a given type of activity and multiplying this by the amount spent on the activity, the CO2 emissions of different spending scenarios for an OP can be compared.
Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are a key driver for sustainable growth and job creation as they represent 99% of businesses in the EU. Therefore, supporting SMEs through ensuring a competitive business environment has always been high on the agenda of the European Commission. In the current economic situation these powerful motors of the economy in the Member States deserve even more attention to ensure that they have the means to develop their full potential and thus deliver smart, sustainable and inclusive growth- the main priorities of the Europe 2020 Strategy. To tackle this challenge, innovation and cutting-edge business ideas play a key role in remaining competitive.
EuroSME2013, a conference organised under the Irish Presidency of the Council of the EU entitled “Innovation: A business Opportunity for SMEs” will focus on how these enterprises can integrate innovative methods in their business activity to achieve EU objective. The event, co-sponsored by Enterprise Ireland and the Commission, will bring together hundreds of entrepreneurs, policy makers, SME support organisations from the private and public sectors to create a networking experience and an opportunity to exchange ideas on how small companies can contribute to growth despite the challenges of the 21st century. Horizon 2020, the EU’s upcoming Framework Programme for Research and Innovation will be another highlight of the conference with presentations focusing on the SME-related specific features of the Programme.
The event is to be held on 11 and 12 June, 2013 in Dublin, Ireland.
EU Cohesion Policy is helping to weather the crisis and produce growth, says Commission 2013 Strategic Report
The European Commission has today presented an overview of how EU Structural Funds are working in Member States. The ‘Strategic Report’ on the implementation of 2007-2013 Cohesion Policy programmes pulls together available information from Member States, up to end-2011 in most cases. With 4 more years to go until the programmes finish in 2015, investments under the European Regional Development Fund, Cohesion Fund and European Social Fund have already led to progress and improvement for many citizens.
The reports submitted by the 27 Member States at the end of 2012 (based mainly on 2011 data) provide the Commission with the first opportunity to report, during a programming period, on progress in delivering outputs and results and to highlight important and timely messages on the potential of Cohesion Policy to play its part in the EU's economic recovery. The Commission identifies the investment areas where action must be taken to speed up the selection and execution of projects co-financed in 2007 2013 in order to meet the objectives set.
FIN-EN “sharing methodologies on FINancial ENgineering for enterprises”, is a project amongst 13 EU regions and countries, that enhances co-operation between regional and national authorities on how EU Structural Funds can best support Financial Engineering Instruments (FEIs) like venture capital funds, guarantee funds and loan funds in order to finance small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
FIN-EN, which benefits from EUR 1,567,194 EU contribution under the interregional cooperation programme Interreg IV C was launched in January 2012 for 3 years and aims to set up a wide and stable network where EU Members States and Regions would confront and exchange experiences in order to maximize the use of EU Structural Funds and increase the support for more SMEs. The project was initiated by Finlombarda, an affiliated institution of the Lombardy Region with the intention to meet the need to share problems and solutions on the management of FEIs with other public financial institutions after the launch of the JEREMIE Initiative (Joint European Resources for Micro to Medium Enterprises) by the European Commission.
During the project the efficiency and effectiveness of implementing financial instruments will be increased as well as the awareness of the role that EU funds play in addressing market failure including how they stimulate private co-investment. As revolving instruments that are by their nature destined to outlive the end of the project itself, the FIEs create jobs by enabling the set-up of SMEs. Businesses and new investments are also developed in cooperation with the public financial institutions.
Paolo Zaggia, Head of European Department Finlombarda S.p.A., lead partner of FIN-EN, states about the project:
“The 45 Financial Engineering Instruments mapped in the FIN-EN project represent almost 50% of the total EU, national and private resources invested in these instruments. Sharing methodologies is a great way to prepare a base to promote financial instruments in the future. It will allow a maximisation of the use of EU funds by increasing the leverage effect and stimulate private co-investment and involvement, supporting a greater number of SMEs, speeding the disbursement process, reinforcing the principle of subsidiarity and mutual accountability across EU through a direct involvement of beneficiaries in the operations.”
Brazil is in the final phases in the development of a new federal regional policy. A period of consultation at national and sub-national level, on the lines of the EU's Cohesion Forum, culminated in a major event in Brasilia in March. DG REGIO has been closely associated throughout this process.
Brazil is entering the final phases in the development of a new federal regional policy. Over recent months there has been an intensive period of consultation at national and sub-national level, culminating in a major event in Brasilia from 19-22 March, on the lines of the EU's Cohesion Forum. DG REGIO has been closely associated throughout this process under the MoU signed in 2007, underpinned by resources from successive Pilot Projects and Preparatory Actions voted by the European Parliament over the period 2009-2013.
The contribution of the Brazilian Ministry of National Integration.
The First National Conference on Regional Development (NCRD) is a process of consultation in Brazil at national and sub-national level which has been taking place during 2012-2013 under the auspices of the Regional Development Secretariat (SDR) of the Ministry for National Integration (MI).
The main purpose of the NCRD process has been to promote a nationwide federative and social dialogue to develop a consensus on the principles and guidelines for the Brazil's new National Policy for Regional Development (NPRD). This process has involved some 443 delegates representing all 27 Brazilian States and the 5 macro-regions with participants from 4 main sectors: civil society; public authorities; the business sector; educational, research and extension institutions. Major themes of the discussions have been: governance, social participation and federate dialogue; financing regional development; regional inequalities and eligibility criteria; sustainable regional development vectors.
The NCRD culminated in a national event held in the federal capital, Brasília, on 19-22 March 2013 with some 4,000 participants. It took place within the framework of the Regional Development Week, with several parallel events: the "The Third Development Conference", sponsored by the Institute of Applied Economic Research (IPEA); the "International Seminar on Regional Policy in a Global Context: Current Situation and Perspectives"; the launch of the "OECD Territorial Report" (The territorial review of Brazil sponsored by DG REGIO); and the launch of the "Information System for Regional Development – the Regional Development Observatory", as well as a number of cultural activities.
The Regional Development Week was attended by Michel Temer, Vice-President of Brazil, which added weight to this historic occasion in Brazilian regional policy. The renowned and internationally-recognized Brazilian writer and poet, Ariano Suassuna, took part. In addition to many prominent national authorities and regional experts, the event attracted international representatives, including Ronald Hall of the European Commission (DG REGIO), the President of the Regional Studies Association, Sally Hardy, Latin American authorities, OECD, Eurosocial and ECLAC, as well as European experts who contributed to specific technical panels held on regional issues.
The NCRD process has resulted in 21 principles and 95 guidelines which are currently being analysed with a view to drafting the new proposal for NPRD. This should be ready within 6 months, to be subsequently forwarded to the ministries and federal level for validation, and transformed into a Bill to be submitted to the National Congress before the end of 2013. In the same period, efforts will be made to establish formally a set of targets involving other ministries in order to achieve greater coherence between the different sectors such as transport or agriculture and the NPRD. The creation of new sources of policy funding is also part of the preparation of the NPRD, with the notable participation in the process by the Ministry of Finance.
The contribution of DG REGIO has been crucial to the current stage attained by regional policies in Brazil. The cooperation between DG REGIO and MI, formalized in 2007, has set out several important initiatives – notably training courses, exchanges and studies – which have helped to strengthen the Brazilian mandate in the current process of review and restructuring of the NPRD.
- Ministry of National Integration, Brasilia, 11 April 2013
The European Commission has just published a mid-term evaluation of the results of 'Additionality' in EU Cohesion Policy programmes for 2007-13. Additionality is a core principle of the policy aiming to ensure the added value of EU investments to those at national level, and more importantly; ensuring that EU Structural Funds complement but do not replace the equivalent public expenditure of a Member State. The principle ensures that Cohesion Policy has a genuine impact by building on national actions with European investments.
This Report shows the importance of this, particularly in the current economic climate, when national budgets are under scrutiny and resources scarce. The budgetary and fiscal consequences of the crisis have inevitably led to a reduction of public investment in a number of Member States. But in spite of this, Member States try to maintain a significant level of public investment in their convergence regions and indeed, Cohesion Policy match-funding is essential, making up a substantial share of public investment in many Member States. Cohesion Policy thus remains essential for preserving high levels of investment to finance growth-oriented policies throughout Europe.
The European Commission has released the first progress report on the European Union Strategy for the Danube Region, almost two years after it was first launched.
Commenting on the findings of the Report, Commissioner Johannes Hahn, said: “The EU Strategy for the Danube Region is proof that Member States achieve more when they work together. Now we need to step up a gear. I want to see the priorities of the Danube Strategy in our next generation of Regional funds programming and firmly embedded in the national, regional and local priorities in every one of the 14 countries involved. The Strategy should be informing every relevant policy area with politically stable, adequately financed structures to support it."
Today's Report details significant achievements in tackling problems from missing transport links and lack of competitiveness, to pollution and crime. The 14 participating countries – among them 8 EU Member States. are working together successfully on numerous shared projects and initiatives in the four main pillars of the Strategy - Connecting the Danube Region, Protecting the Environment, Building Prosperity and Strengthening the Danube Region.
Commissioner Hahn is calling on the Danube governments to follow up on their political commitments by making the Strategy a priority across all relevant policy areas, urging the 8 EU members involved, as well as Croatia, to incorporate the Strategy into their plans for the next generation of programmes under Regional Policy for 2014-20.
International Roma Day: Commissioner Hahn calls for decisive action to help Europe's largest minority
On International Roma Day, Johannes Hahn has joined with fellow Commissioners to stress the need for further efforts by Member States to fight discrimination against around 12 million Roma people in Europe and to improve their access to employment, education and healthcare.
In a joint statement with Vice-President Viviane Reding (EU Justice Commissioner) and László Andor (Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion), Commissioner Hahn said: ' Roma integration cannot be left to Sunday speeches that are not followed up come Monday morning. What we need is a genuine political commitment from the Member States to implement national strategies. The drafting of national strategies was certainly a good start but we still need more to make changes happen.'
He added 'Regional Policy is playing its part to help Roma people into jobs and training'
EU Structural Funds have been used, alongside national budgets, to boost efforts in the socio-economic inclusion of Roma communities. But more needs to be done to ensure that the investment directly benefits Roma people. The Commission therefore urges the national Roma contact points to be closely involved in the planning of future investment programmes. For 2014-2020, the Commission has proposed a specific investment priority to be devoted to the integration of marginalised communities, such as Roma, and a requirement that an appropriate Roma inclusion strategy is in place, where EU funds are spent for this purpose.
For full details of the statement see here
The 2013 edition of the European Week of Regions and Cities sees the involvement of 29 cities - including 13 capitals, while another nine capital regions are taking part. The remaining 162 regions represent a variety of subnational authorities and constituencies in Europe including cantons, counties, communities, Länder, principalities, municipalities and provinces. In the coming weeks, they will work together with partner institutions, associations and networks to finalise the programme of the 11th annual OPEN DAYS, which will consist of 100 workshops and debates taking place in Brussels from 8-10 October 2013.
Online registration of participants will open on 8 July.
The Commission has published a study on European Regional Development Fund projects aiming at improving the standards of living and working in Europe's cities. 'Urban development in the EU' presents 50 projects which received ERDF investment and offers an information package for selected cities, with detailed information on projects and results there. The study gathers a range of urban practice, and is a 'state of play' in how the cities have put local urban policies into action with ERDF investment from 2007-13. Many of the projects in this study will be showcased in Brussels during the 2013 edition of OPEN DAYS – the European Week of Regions and Cities from 7-10 October.
'Towards Work – development of mediation services in recruiting people with hearing disabilities’- is a social video project. This three-year project, which benefited from EUR 891 100 EU-funding, was launched in March 2009 by the Republican Rehabilitation Centre of the Deaf in Lithuania.
The videos target the hearing society, in particular employers, to encourage them to discover the value of deaf people and their employment potential. Their key message is that deaf
people live among us and are just like us. All we need is to pay a little more attention to communicate and work together.
During the project, specially trained recruitment agents or ‘employment mediators’ working in a series of pilot job centres helped hearing-impaired people to find suitable work opportunities. They also remained in contact with them for six months, visited them at work regularly and helped to solve a variety of problems, often acting as mediators between employer and employee.
Of the more than 600 people with hearing disabilities actively involved in project activities more than 400 were successfully employed.
These videos were broadcast on a number of Lithuanian national TV channels in 2010 and on the Internet
The project "Towards Work – development of mediation services in recruiting people with hearing disabilities" has won the RegioStars 2013 award in communication category "Promoting EU regional policy with short videos".
The Commission has adopted the 2007-2013 Closure Guidelines for cohesion policy programmes on 20 March 2013. It marks the end of a 14 month period of drafting and consultation and paves the way for the active preparation of programme closure for the current period.
The Guidelines provide a reference framework for the Member States in preparing for closure. They are available in all EU language versions.
The Guidelines take into account the lessons learnt from the 2000-2006 closure process and seek to address weaknesses and bottlenecks identified in the previous closure exercise.
The Guidelines were completed successfully in a relatively short time and well in advance of the closure process. They were broadly discussed with and further refined by Member State representatives in three COCOF meetings and have been widely accepted as a transparent basis for a successful closure process. During the COCOF consultation, around 400 questions from the Member States were handled. These will serve as a starting point for a Question and Answer document that should provide further technical details, as was the case in the last closure exercise.
The Commission is ready to take part in closure workshops organised by the Member States.
Commissioner for Regional Policy Johannes Hahn was at the European Parliament Comittee on Regional Development (REGI-Committee) today to exchange views with its Members on the Multiannual Financial Framework and the ongoing inter-institutional negotiations on the post 2014 EU Cohesion Policy.
Extracts from his speech:
Political evaluation of the MFF is complex: significant increases for research and development, but not as high as the Commission wanted, additional funds for combating youth unemployment, on the other hand less money for regions or agriculture.
It is important to note that budgetary provision supports the new architecture in principle (Transition Regions) and also enables new strategic alignment of Regional Policy.
I will not hide the fact that I am personally critical of certain aspects, given that they particularly endanger the new results-orientated approach. For example, the n+3 rule does not support the Better Spending concept. I also regret the poor funding for Territorial Cooperation – I believe that significant cut-backs in areas where Europe obviously adds value send out the wrong signal. I am sure that the Parliament will give out a clear European message on this matter during negotiations.
Overall, the agreement reached by the Heads of State and Government creates a sound basis for negotiations between Council and Parliament. We need a rapid solution to this matter so as not to delay further negotiations regarding sectoral policies or endanger solid programming. All Member States, including Croatia, have entered into a partnership agreement with the Commission to formally fix matters, with the aim of ensuring a smooth transition from one period to the next.
I do not need to explain to you that moving away from multiannual financing in favour of annual budgeting is a serious threat to Regional Policy. Investment policy thrives on investment security!
I thank the Parliament/you for your strong commitment to the ongoing trilogue negotiations, in which many of you are directly involved, and which, I believe, are heading in a very good direction. It is therefore reasonable to expect an agreement to be reached before summer. The Commission, my colleagues and I are always at your disposal.
I conclude with two points that I would like to briefly address:
ESF share: we rapidly need a clear and ambitious solution for the ESF minimum share. In this context, it is surely necessary to take into account the specific characteristics of the regions and allow flexibility accordingly. However, the basic concept should remain unaffected.
Thematic focus: This ensures achievement of pan-European objectives. Focus on the things assigned to the Europe 2020 growth objectives. Allowing flexibility for everything is possibly a poor interpretation; this deals with targeted measures. In this House, I have always promoted and advocated the principle of thematic focus. If we want to use the funds to greatest effect, we must focus them on the (few) areas that are of central importance for growth and employment. Previously, structural policy was affected by a lack of direction. We want to demonstrate that we are improving.
Commissioner for Regional Policy Johannes Hahn: ' EU governments need to put their principles into practice when it comes to delivering for EU citizens with disabilities'
Commissioner Hahn was speaking after a meeting with one of Europe's leading disability rights groups on how EU Cohesion Policy can deliver for EU citizens with disabilities. After the meeting with Miguel Carbelleda Piniero President of the Spanish organisation, ONCE, he said :
" I believe cohesion policy has a critical role to play both in protecting the rights of people with disabilities across the EU and in improving their quality of life. We have proposed concrete measures to address this as part of the reform of our policy. They are currently being negotiated and are backed by the European Parliament and by Europe's disability rights organisations. But we need the backing of EU governments as well. I urge them to put the priniciples they have signed up to into practice. They, along with the EU as a whole, have ratified the "United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities". We say this should be implemented as a precondition for EU funding . "
BACKGROUND : in addition to this, the European Commission has proposed, as part of its cohesion policy reform, measures on anti-discrimination and accessibility as a pre-requisite before programmes backed by EU Funds are approved. Managing Authorities in regions and cities would also have to take into account the needs and rights of people with disabilities in line with EU legislation in selecting projects. A new code of conduct alongside new "Partnership Agreements " on cohesion policy funds for 2014-20 in Member States will also require the participation of civil society groups – including disability rights NGOs in the planning, implementation and monitoring of EU cohesion policy funding .
Many obstacles make it hard for people to find a job when they are over 45, have been out of work for some time, or have disabilities or health problems. The Individual Employment Paths project in Elblag, in the Warmińsko-Mazurskie region, offers the expert assistance these people need to overcome the barriers and secure fulfilling occupations. This innovative model first developed in Finland and imported to Poland from Elblag's Disability Advisory Council (Erkon) works with people to solve their individual psychological, social or health related problems.
Thirty-two project participants (27 women and 5 men), all long-term unemployed, received a multiprofile diagnosis under the new model. This led to the establishment of a ‘personal development plan’ for 28 of them, including vocational training, psychological support and support from a job coach. Almost 80 % of these participants went on to find a job. That compared to just 30% for people recruited through standard labour market institutions. The job coach later succeeded in helping nine out of ten of the newly employed beneficiaries to remain in the workplace beyond 15 months, by improving communication and solving any problems arising between the employer and employee.
Cooperation with local employers, including schools is key to success. 60% of those employers involved in the project say they've changed their attitude to employing older people.
This project, which benefitted from EUR 393 700 EU funding, clearly contributes to the EU’s cohesion policy objective of economic growth and job creation by helping people to be active. The model has already been disseminated at regional and national levels in Poland. Because it is highly efficient, relatively inexpensive to implement and requires little change in labour legislation, it could also be adapted for use in other EU Member States and for other groups of people who need support in the labour market.
The employment model 'Individual employment paths' won the RegioStars 2013 award in the category "Inclusive Growth".
Eliza Popławska-Jodko, project coordinator at ERKON, states about the project:
"Creation of an employment model that permanently changes the quality of life for the long-term unemployed, including disabled people, is the most significant benefit of this project."
Henryk Chudziński, 61, School Caretaker in Elblag and beneficiary of the project after 4 years unemploment states:
"I feel very good. I am a fulfilled person. For me my job is a challenge. I am satisfied with my job."
DGs REGIO and EMPL have together produced a “Guide to Social Innovation”, which is now available to download. In their joint foreword, Commissioners Hahn and Andor draw attention to the need to address the social consequences of the current economic crisis: “…we need to have a fresh look at social, health and employment policies, but also at education, training and skills development, business support, industrial policy, urban development, etc., to
ensure socially and environmentally sustainable growth, jobs and quality of life in Europe.” For the purposes of this guide “social innovation” describes any innovative measure which has explicitly social (as opposed to merely technological or business) goals.
The guide describes how many pre-existing European Union initiatives, from the Digital Agenda to the Structural Funds, are working towards this end, and provides many good examples of relevant co-funded projects, as well as placing them in the context of the Europe 2020 strategy. Detailed practical tips are provided for regional public authorities as to how to foster and enable social innovation, and how to embed social aims within other policies. These are then summarised in a handy ten step guide at the end of the publication. We hope that you find this guide useful and that you will share it with colleagues and other contacts.
The Youth Employment Initiative was proposed by the 7-8 February 2013 European Council with a budget of €6 billion for the period 2014-20.
The Youth Employment Initiative would particularly support young people not in education, employment or training in the Union's regions with a youth unemployment rate in 2012 at above 25% by integrating them into the labour market.
Bringing the digital economy to West Wales and the valleys: Commission approves EUR 100 million of regional funds for a major broadband project
The European Commission has approved an investment of €100 million from the European Regional Development fund (ERDF) to ensure that all businesses and residential premises in West Wales and the Valleys have access to next generation broadband by 2015. The project directly contributes to reaching the objectives of the ‘Digital Agenda for Europe’ in terms of basic broadband access and Next Generation Access and opens a door to the digital economy in this region.
Commenting on the decision, Commissioner for Regional Policy Johannes Hahn said “Projects like this will have huge benefits for businesses and citizens. This initiative in particular will allow Wales to seize the opportunities offered by the digital economy. This is a perfect example of how Regional Policy can help Europe's recovery and directly contribute to meeting the goals of the EU’s growth agenda, ‘Europe 2020’. Providing fast and reliable access to the internet will play a vital role in helping regions in their economic development.”
Postgraduates and early career researchers interested in European Cohesion Policy are invited to apply to present their research in the form of a poster at the 11th OPEN DAYS 2013 European Week of Cities and Region, 7th-10th October 2013. The competition showcases the ongoing research and results from projects undertaken by Early Career Researchers on Cohesion policy topics. Applicants are short-listed on the basis of up to 1000 word abstracts, and six finalists will be selected. Each finalist will be awarded a place on the OPEN DAYS Master Class along with two nights of accommodation and travel to and from OPEN DAYS. The overall winner will receive €750 and the runner-up will receive €250. All finalists will receive honorary membership of the Regional Studies Association for one year. For application click here.
Project of the Week: ENWORKS helps small companies save scarce resources and become more competitive in North West England
ENWORKS is a network of local organisations that provides a single source of professional environmental advice and support for businesses right across the urban and rural landscape of North West of England. This EU co-funded project won the RegioStars Award 2013 in the category Sustainable Growth.
ENWORKS aims to improve the competitiveness and productivity of North West Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) by reducing their exposure to environmental risks and improving their resource efficiency. Furthermore, they set out to improve the region’s skills and knowledge on environmental management and to demonstrate that environmental practice is profitable.
ENWORKS, which benefited from EUR 7 380 000 EU-financing, offers support across a wide range of issues, from managing environmental risk through to the rewards of reducing energy, water and material usage, and improving waste management. It addresses the broad spectrum of issues that face business today, including: eco-design, process efficiency, sustainable procurement, carbon foot-printing and climate change adaptation.
Every business has free access to the ENWORKS Online Resource Efficiency Toolkit, a custom-built software which helps managers to understand, prioritise,track and assess their improvements and savings. ENWORKS also organises training and networking events, and provides regular e-bulletins and online resources, including business case studies, to assist with knowledge and skills transfer into SMEs.
Through the last two EU-supported programmes, ENWORKS has helped North West SMEs to identify￡79 million of annual cost savings through resource efficiency, ￡13 million of which have been implemented so far. These improvements have saved over 47 000 tonnes of CO2 emissions, 413 000 m3 of water and 9 300 tonnes of materials to date. In addition, the environmental improvements have created or safeguarded over 960 jobs, and over ￡113 million of sales.
Samantha Nicholson, ENWORKS Programmes Director, states about the project:
‘Our hands-on, one-to-one support has helped nearly 4 000 SMEs in the last few years alone to reduce their consumption of energy, fuel, water and materials, and where necessary, substitute resources with alternatives that have lower environmental impacts. The savings we achieve through simple, low-cost or no-cost efficiency measures go straight onto a business’s bottom line, and we then encourage them to re-invest by making further improvements, that will bring even greater, long-term savings.’
ESPON Workshop "Stepping into the sea - New evidence on territorial development and the opportunities and risks for European seas and maritime regions"
Brussels 15 May 2013
Policy-making community representatives and practitioners are invited to attend this workshop which aims at providing information on land-sea interactions within Europe’s six regional seas. New evidence on the development opportunities and challenges of Europe’s seas, which can be used by stakeholders for the elaboration of both future Structural Funds programmes but also other development strategies, will be presented while also taking into account coastal and maritime governance arrangements. Place-based policy approaches for Europe’s seas will be discussed which will be of high relevance for future EU funding possibilities.
Deadline for registration is 29 April 2013 at 14h00.
Declaration from all EU capital city mayors: Launch of new dialogue with EC on Europe's recovery : EU Capital Cities – essential partners for Europe 2020
Capital cities play a crucial role in the well-being of the EU and its Member States. Europe's capital cities are not only a major part of the EU's image abroad, its cultural identity and attractiveness, but powerful motors for competitiveness, employment and innovation. At the same time they have a concentration of Europe's problems, including increasing social and economic disparities. Capital cities are the laboratories where solutions to the EU's social and economic problems must be found.
We the Mayors of EU capital cities therefore welcome the initiative of the European Commission to open a direct dialogue with the capital cities and to give our cities a higher profile as direct partners for the EU. The objectives of Europe 2020 cannot be achieved without our active involvement. Capital cities are drivers of innovation and smart growth, and often provide the core for education and scientific networks. Capital cities are indispensable to sustainable growth since their transport, energy and environmental policies have a decisive impact. Our capital cities are at the heart of efforts for inclusive growth: as centres of social, cultural and ethnic diversity.
We will continue to play our part in promoting competitiveness, sustainable growth, innovation and inclusiveness, to overcome the current economic, financial and social crisis.
In the light of current discussions on the Multiannual Financial Framework 2014-2020, the new Structural and Investment funds Regulations and other EU programmes, we believe:
- Urban challenges have to be addressed in an integrated way, tackling the economic, environmental, social, cultural and demographic dimensions together. We therefore welcome the European Commission's commitment to an integrated approach.
- Future EU policies and actions in the fields of transport, environment, energy, enterprise, employment, research climate action, tackling poverty and social exclusion and the digital agenda, should bear in mind the urban dimension. Improved co-ordination of urban issues to be conducted by the DG for Regional and Urban Policy is important and we will follow this closely.
- Concerning the legislative package on Cohesion Policy, we welcome the Commission's willingness to test new ideas and ways of working through the proposed urban innovative actions.
- We believe that the Commission's proposals for greater delegation of management to cities, including the management of EU Structural Funds, are vital to ensure urban challenges are well understood and implementation matches real needs.
- The priority topics targeted by the draft regulations (energy efficiency, renewable energies, youth unemployment, innovation and SMEs competitiveness) are strategic issues for our cities. We welcome new opportunities to address these in an integrated way and trust that the Commission will implement the new legislation in a spirit of flexibility respecting local specificities.
- We look forward to a continuing dialogue with the European Commission.
The Bulgarian national drawing competition "How I Want the European Union to Change My Town" was financed under Project № 0103-CIO-3.1 "Promotion of best practices under operational programmes, co-financed by the EU Structural and Cohesion Funds and the preparation of the programming period 2014-2020" under Operational Programme Technical Assistance, co-financed by the EU through the European Regional Development Fund.
The contest started at regional level on 17th September 2012 and was finalised on 1st November 2012. The organiser of the initiative is the Network of the Central Information and Coordination Office and 27 District Information Offices for the promotion of the Cohesion Policy of the European Union.
8,130 children (age 6-12 years) participated in the competition. Jordan Karpachev from the town of Velingrad and Mladen Iliev from the town of Lom are the winners. Together with the other 50 regional winners they received awards and certificates by the Minister of European Union Funds Management Tomislav Donchev and the Minister of Culture Vezhdi Rashidov.
At the opening of the award ceremony Minister Tomislav Donchev thanked the children for their ideas and promised them that they will be brought to the attention of representatives of the European Commission, the ministers and district governors. Minister Vezhdi Rashidov suggested that the drawings of all regional winners be exhibited in a special museum exposition. He also offered to organise an exhibition of the paintings in Brussels for the National Holiday of Bulgaria.
Project of the Week: A neighbourhood management project in Berlin assigns decision-making power to residents
The Neighbourhood Management Berlin project is a strategy launched by the Berlin city authorities in 1999 with the aim of regenerating socially disadvantaged areas of the city. Working in neighbourhoods facing issues as diverse as neglect of public and green spaces, ethnic integration challenges and high youth unemployment, the project engages neighbourhood actors and includes them in the democratic decision-making process.
Neighbourhood Councils (represented by local institutions and citizens’ associations: schools, churches, local police, housing societies and residents) were set-up to enable residents to shape their own destinies and encourage them to take responsibility for the improvement of living conditions in their own neighbourhoods.
The most popular actions undertaken include support to schools, the refurbishment of public venues to strengthen social cohesion, and the promotion of a shared neighbourhood culture. Activities have now expanded to encompass career support as well as an increased focus on social and ethnic integration – particularly in neighbourhoods with a high proportion of the population from a migrant background (up to 79 % in some cases).
The project, which benefited from an EUR 83.5 million EU investment, has won the RegioStars Award 2013 in the category “CityStar”.
Philipp Mühlberg from the Berlin Senate Department for Urban Development and Environment, states about the project:
‘Neighbourhood Management Berlin is based on local democracy and empowerment and assigns decision-making power to local panels. The establishment of Neighbourhood Councils in deprived districts has strengthened the participation of residents by giving them the responsibility to decide on the development of their neighbourhood. The success of the project shows how it is possible to motivate residents to take their responsibility for their own neighbourhood and their future’.
Project website (in German)
The ESPON TANGO team invites decision-makers, practitioners and policy-makers involved in territorial development to the workshop "Towards Better Territorial Governance" in Brussels - 20 March 2013
Specific objectives of the event are:
- To identify and discuss the characteristics of good territorial governance and ways to transfer them based on 12 case studies from across Europe.
- To select good territorial governance practices for achieving smart, inclusive and sustainable growth.
- To help participants detect channels and mechanisms from which to learn.
- To receive suggestions for a relevant and user-friendly Handbook on good Territorial Governance.
The number of participants is limited, so please register by 01 March 2013, by email at email@example.com .
Venue: European Commission, DG Regional and Urban Policy
Avenue Beaulieu 29, 1160 Auderghem, Brussels
Commissioner Hahn calls on the Mayors of EU Capital Cities to help pull Europe out of crisis by driving growth and recovery
Commissioner for Regional Policy, Johannes Hahn is hosting the first direct talks between the European Commission and the EU's capital cities in Brussels on 28 February. Some 20 mayors from capital cities meet also with Commissioners Neelie Kroes for Digital Agenda and Janez Potocnik for Environment to discuss how they can drive forward the EU’s growth agenda, Europe 2020 and help Europe exit the crisis.
In the light of current discussions for the next EU 7-year budget, reforms to EU Regional Policy and other EU programmes, there is a need to address urban challenges in an integrated, more effective way. The reformed Regional Policy makes the case for this kind of integrated approach. This is why the recently renamed Directorate for Regional and Urban Policy has been given a new role by Commission President Barroso to co-ordinate the urban policy initiatives of the EU.
For more information
Hot on the heels of the highly successful 2013 edition of RegioStars, recognising innovation in EU Regional Policy, the deadline for the next round of Awards is fast approaching. If you have run an innovative project financed through EU Structural Funds, why not apply for this prestigious award? We are looking for projects that contribute, in their individual way to the goals of the EU's Europe 2020 Strategy – smart and green growth for all. This year's Award Categories include actions targeted at youth unemployment and smart transport solutions for cities, as well as, for the first time, a category dedicated to EU Major Projects - of which the total investment (VAT included) is above €50 million.
Each programme can submit one application per category. The five award categories for 2014 are:
- SMART GROWTH: SME innovation
- SUSTAINABLE GROWTH: Green growth and jobs through Bio-economy
- INCLUSIVE GROWTH: Creating jobs for the young generation
- CITYSTAR: Investment projects in sustainable urban public transport
- Major Investment Projects: Energy efficiency and the low-carbon economy.
Applications must be received by 19 April 2013.
The selected finalists will showcase their projects before an independent jury during the next OPEN DAYS- European Week of Regions and Cities in Brussels in early October 2013.
To see the guide for applicants and register, visit the RegioStars website.
Further information: REGIO-STARS@ec.europa.eu
If you’d like to share your urban solutions, you can now apply to participate in the OPEN DAYS 2013 ‘100 EUrban solutions’ exhibition route in the Brussels EUquarter.
You can either 1/ join the Committee of the Regions co-ordinated exhibition units located in the CoR ‘Meeting Place’, or 2/ organise an exhibition in your own premises (for Brussels-based regions/cities and European Associations).
Selected projects and partners will be announced on 5 April. All details about the exhibition units will be published in a programme, disseminated shortly in advance to and during the OPEN DAYS.
The Norte Region has traditionally depended on a range of low-tech and export-focused industries, among them textiles, shoes and furniture. Under the pressure of globalization, many firms across the region aim to add value to their products by upgrading processes. Others seek to become specialised suppliers in emerging sectors such as scientific equipment, mouldings and information systems. A further challenge for the region is its business sector’s weakness in R&D activities. Therefore the regional authorities took action with Norte Region’s Innovation Plan, which refocused regional development policy on specific assets like health, ICT and production technologies, creative industries, marine technologies and other sea-related activities.
In this context the UPTEC project –Science and Technology Park of the University of Porto came to life. The project, which benefited from 15.4 million EU funding, is organised into four poles: Technology, Creative Industries, Sea Technology and Biotechnology. Two support structures for business - Incubators and Centres for Business Innovation were set up in order to foster start-up companies and innovation centres, supported by academia.
The UPTECH Technology Centre welcomes a group of companies and innovation centres in areas such as energy, energy efficiency, polymers and composite materials, IT and communications, and robotics. The UPTEC PINC (Centre of Creative Industries) calls on the university’s creative and cultural expertise by supporting companies in business areas such as film, video and audiovisual, TV and radio, print, design, performing and visual arts, architecture, music, entertainment, and educational software.
The project UPTEC has so far assisted 110 firms, including 95 start-ups, five large companies and five private innovation centres. The project has created some 800 graduate jobs, contributing to the robust economic growth in the region. It was awarded for the RegioStars 2013 in the category “Smart Growth”.
Clara Gonçalves, Assistant Executive of UPTEC states about the project:
‘Supporting effective knowledge and technology transfer between academia and business, UPTEC is working to become a world-class science and technology park, driving change and revitalising the Portuguese economy. In times of austerity and crisis, his existence would not have been possible without EU-funding. The recognition at the RegioStars Awards represents the hope that UPTEC endeavours to bring not only to the Norte Region of Portugal but to the whole country.’
The European Commission has approved an investment of EUR 66.5 million from the European Regional Development fund (ERDF) to the construction of 2,908 km broadband infrastructure in Lubelskie. This project directly contributes to reaching the objectives of the ‘Digital Agenda for Europe’ in terms of basic broadband access and Next Generation Access and opens a door to the digital economy in this region. As a result of the project, 316,000 more people will be covered by broadband access in one of Poland’s less developed regions and 92.7% of the population is expected to be within the reach of basic broadband infrastructure, which is an increase by approximately 15%.
DG REGIO and the Regional Studies Association invite postgraduates and early career researchers interested in European Cohesion Policy to apply for the Open Days Master Class, to be held during the 11th OPEN DAYS (7 – 10 October 2013). For the first time, the Open Days University will include a Master Class for postgraduate students and early career researchers to learn more about Cohesion Policy and meet senior policymakers and academics.
The application process is competitive; at least two places will be reserved for applicants from each of the 27 Member States and Croatia. A small number of non-EU participants (up to 15) could also participate. The successful applicants will have return travel to Brussels and accommodation for up to two nights provided. Deadline for submissions: 15th April 2013. More information and the application form is to be found on the Regional Studies Association website.
Commissioner Hahn in Western Greece and Peloponnese to push for an approach to EU investments that delivers jobs
Commissioner Johannes Hahn is in Greece from 14-15 February pushing for the most efficient and effective use of the country's main source of public investment – EU Regional Funds. On this leg of his tour of the country's 13 regions he is urging local business and regional representatives to use Regional Funds for growth and innovation and calling for more targeted spending to create new jobs; in particular in research and development, support for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises and sustainable tourism. He will also seek the elimination of illegal landfill sites, which deter potential investors and badly affect people’s quality of life, to be replaced by modern waste management plants. These can be co-financed through EU Regional Policy. Commissioner Hahn meets Western Greece Regional Governor, Apostolos Katsifaras in Patras as well as regional representatives, NGOs and business representatives in the Peloponnese region, to discuss how to best target EU investment to build on the regions' strengths and to create the maximum impact.
For further information:
Commissioner for Regional Policy, Johannes Hahn is in Zagreb to meet business representatives, key parliamentary committees and senior members of government; and to set out the opportunities future EU Regional Policy offer the country, as well as the challenges ahead. Regional funds will make up 70% of Croatia's public investment once the country joins the EU on 1st July. That represents around €1bn for jobs and growth – which must be targeted on key identified sectors to ensure effective and efficient use of the investment.
On the subject of a tighter focus on fewer priorities – the watchwords of the reformed policy, Commission Hahn is officially opening a ‘Smart Specialisation’ seminar for local stakeholders and business, but also for representatives from Austria and Slovenia. It will explore the areas in which Croatia can get tangible results and help meet the goals of the EU’s growth agenda, Europe 2020; but also set the scene for the drawing up of Croatia’s Partnership Agreement, due for the end of the year.
Statement from EU Regional Policy Commissioner Johannes Hahn: on the Multiannual Financial Framework 2014-2020 after the European Council
I know these have been difficult talks, so I am relieved that we have an agreement from the European Council on the EU budget for 2014-2020. Subject to the European Parliament's consent, we can continue our preparations for the next programming period for Cohesion Policy without any more delay. This is about getting EU investments to where they can do most good- creating jobs and helping Europe's recovery. It is about giving investors certainty about where private funds can also bolster our efforts.
The Commission's original proposal would have been a better deal for Europe. There is no doubt that as it stands it will be harder to finance all the EU priorities that we laid out in our proposals.
The budget for Cohesion Policy has been cut compared to the original Commission proposal but the € 325 billion for seven years will still support a modernised policy: more effective, more transparent, more European, and at the heart of the Europe 2020 growth and competitiveness agenda. Cohesion policy is the EU's main investment tool for delivering the goals of Europe 2020 and I am committed to achieving them. This deal also confirms the key elements of further reform to make the policy even more focused and efficient. Importantly, by accepting our new category of "transition regions" and the principle of providing funds for more developed regions as well, the agreement recognises that investments for growth and creating jobs are needed in all the regions of the EU.
However, despite a demand for "better spending", some provisions in this deal risk delaying much needed investments for growth on the ground.
I will do all that I can to safeguard a new cohesion policy that looks to the future : creating jobs and investing in innovation, research, small and medium sized businesses and the low carbon economy. I count on the European Parliament to do the same, by defending a budget to meet today's challenges and to support our further reforms of EU cohesion policy so every euro spent counts for new jobs in Europe's regions.
The European Union budget is relatively small (around 1% of EU GNI), but it can make a big difference. Around 94% of the European Union budget supports researchers, businesses, farmers, regions, young people and many others.
Too little is known about the concrete projects on the ground and how they bring about concrete results and benefits for citizens and businesses as well as for the wider European economy. This non-exhaustive list of good EU projects gives you an idea. Did you know for example that the EU supports solutions to traffic and environmental problems in European cities, that it helps to preserve our environment, allows for energy savings and makes our economy more sustainable? That it supports reconciliation in Northern Ireland? That it brings together universities and researchers or helps local farmers? It spurs economic and social development in poorer regions and supports the unemployed. Progress in cancer research helps patients and creates new treatments. Top-class researchers are enabled to pool knowledge and save money in transnational research projects that benefit European competitiveness. Small and medium sized enterprises receive support to innovate. Risks stemming from climate change and natural disasters are mitigated. Young people get a chance to study, train and volunteer abroad. Children in conflict zones are supported, humanitarian aid is delivered and global food security is improved.
Smart Specialisation, the achievements of the Cohesion Fund and Poland's success stories in this season's Panorama magazine
The winter 2012 edition of Panorama magazine entitled "Smart Specialisation" is now online. The centrepiece is a 6 page feature on Smart Specialisation strategies as drivers of regional economic growth, which analyses the definitions and possibilities for smart specialisation, the support provided by the S3 Platform, and reports from the European Commission workshop in Bari in September 2012 which helped Italian regions prepare to use these strategies in the 2014-2020 programming period.
The other main highlight is an exclusive interview with Polish Minister for Regional Development Elżbieta Bieńkowska, who describes the progress made by Poland since accession in 2004 in developing its infrastructure, creating jobs and increasing GDP. She also looks to the future and anticipates increasing investment in research & innovation and sustainable energy and transport solutions in the next programming period.
Elsewhere the latest Eurobarometer survey "A view from the regions" is analysed showing some surprisingly positive results regarding quality of life and outlook for the future, and the winners of the Europe In My Region photo competition are featured, along with a pull-out mosaic poster of some of the many entries.
There is also a preview of Regiostars 2014 and another selection of profiles of successful projects from regions across the EU.
This, and much, much more can be found inside Panorama 44.
EU Regional Affairs Commissioner Johannes Hahn has launched the start of work to help save the world renowned UNESCO site of Pompeii in the Italian region of Campania. Using €41.8 million of EU Regional Funds (ERDF), part of a total funding of €105 million, the project could prove a model for the rest of Italy and the Campania region.
It is using some of the most sophisticated and up-to-date technology to conserve the ruins of the site which has been badly damaged in recent years. The project is also taking a variety of measures to protect itself from the influence of organised crime - the Camorra - which infects many parts of the region. Working closely with the European Commission, the Italian authorities have installed a special "prefetto" from the Italian Ministry of the Interior to oversee security and legal aspects of the project from beginning to end. Currently around 2.3 million visitors come to Pompeii every year. It is expected that by 2017 with the restoration of the site, that should increase by at least 300,000 people with huge direct and indirect benefits for the region in terms of jobs and spin-off commercial activities.
The Pompeii project will undertake:
- to consolidate the structures of the archaeological site, starting with the areas ranked "high risk" pursuant to the 'Archaeological Risk Map';
- to build a water canalisation and drainage system In the non-excavated state property area leaning over the ancient buildings;
- to implement the consolidation, restoration and enhancement works in line with the method of programmed preservation;
- to improve the training of staff, working on site for the 'Special Superintendency for the Archaeological Heritage of Naples and Pompeii' (SANP).
The latest Regional Focus paper, "What are counterfactual impact evaluations teaching us about enterprise and innovation support?" is now available online. This 16-page PDF report from the Evaluation Unit of DG REGIO examines over EUR 40 billion given to 235 000 firms under 12 support schemes in 7 different EU Member States. Effects are considered in terms of investment, productivity, employment and innovation.
The results show that SMEs have the most to gain from financial support, with an increase in investment and durable employment, although non-financial support such as advice and networking can be just as effective. It is hoped that these findings will inform preparation of the 2014-20 programmes.
The full paper can be downloaded here: http://ec.europa.eu/regional_policy/information/focus/index_en.cfm
European Commissioner for Regional Policy Johannes Hahn, and Luc Van den Brande have announced the winners of the prestigious RegioStars Awards 2013 to Europe’s most innovative and inspiring projects. The 6th annual edition of the Awards attracted a record 149 applications, with 27 highly commended finalists. But 5 of them have outshined the competition: flagship projects of innovation in Porto, the North West of England, Warmińsko-Mazurskie, Berlin and Lithuania have this year been honoured with the Awards and taken centre stage in Brussels.
Watch the RegioStars Award Ceremony 2013's video.
See the winners:
Established by the Irish Football Association in 2000, the ‘Football For All’ project aims to eradicate sectarianism and racism from football and to encourage fun, safe and inclusive participation at every level of the game. It has been re-launched on 23 January and will be presented on 31 January in Brussels at the conference "Bringing Divided Communities Together - Sharing the Experience of the EU PEACE Programme" hosted by EU Commissioner for Regional Policy Johannes Hahn.
At grass roots, domestic and international level, the education, assistance and communication services provided by Football For All led to increased commitment from fans, players, coaches, clubs and communities. Seminars, training and workshops have improved awareness of community issues. Solutions for tackling issues come from clubs and fans themselves. These include encouraging non-sectarian support during games; awareness workshops organised by volunteers; self-policing on the terraces; training clubs in their communities and the setting up of World United teams which include players who are refugees or asylum seekers from all over the world.
‘Football For All’ benefited to date from €760,000 from the European Regional Development Fund under the EU PEACE programme which specifically promotes peace and reconciliation in Northern Ireland.
The project ‘Football for all’ successfully demonstrates how sport can have significant and lasting impacts on local communities. Not only has it been highly innovative in its approach to encouraging grass roots engagement but it is implemented by people on the ground who actively seek ways and means of integrating marginalised communities and overcoming prejudice and fear.
Northern Ireland International Manager Michael O’Neill states about the project: “With valued support from PEACE III Programme, the IFA is committed to working in partnership with community groups, clubs, fans and volunteers to promote Football For All throughout all levels of the game. Grassroots initiatives like Street League and Limestone United demonstrate how sport is able to harness a common passion, and use it as a basis to promote learning, respect for diversity and self-development”.
Following the award of the Nobel Peace Prize to the European Union, the European Commission is inviting divided communities in the EU and beyond to consider whether and how they might draw on the experience of the EU's PEACE Programme in Northern Ireland and Ireland's Border Region.
The Commissioner for Regional Policy, Johannes Hahn, will host a conference: "Bringing Divided Communities Together - Sharing the Experience of the EU PEACE Programme" on Thursday, January 31 at 9:00 am in the Charlemagne building.
He will be joined by First Minister of Northern Ireland, Peter Robinson, Deputy First Minister, Martin McGuinness, and Irish Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Brendan Howlin. The conference will be attended by representatives of EU Member states, candidates, neighbourhood countries and others.
Beartas réigiúnach an AE: Muinín a chothú i bPobail Scoilte
Tar éis bhronnadh Duais Síochána Nobel ar an Aontas Eorpach, tá an Coimisiún ag iarraidh ar phobail scoilte san AE agus lasmuigh de machnamh a dhéanamh ar an dóigh a bhféadfaidís, b'fhéidir, leas a bhaint as an taithí a fuarthas ó Chlár PEACE an AE i dTuaisceart Éireann agus i Réigiún na Teorann in Éirinn agus conas dul ina bhun sin.
Beidh an Coimisinéir um Beartas Réigiúnach, Johannes Hahn, ina óstach ar an gcomhdháil: ‘Pobail Scoilte a Thabhairt le Chéile – An Taithí a fuarthas ó Chlár PEACE an AE a Roinnt’, Déardaoin, an 31 Eanáir ag 09:00 i bhfoirgneamh Charlemagne.
Beidh Céad-Aire Thuaisceart Éireann, Peter Robinson, LeasChéad-Aire, Martin McGuinness, agus an tAire Éireannach um Chaiteachas Poiblí agus Athchóiriú, Brendan Howlin in éineacht leis an gCoimisinéir. Beidh ionadaithe de chuid Bhallstát eile den AE, tíortha is iarrthóirí a bheith ina mball den AE, agus tíortha comharsanachta agus dreamanna eile ag freastal ar an gcomhdháil.
The central idea underpinning the RSA 2013 conference in Tampere is that there is now an urgent need to better to understand how regions and localities can adapt to current challenges and deal with the wicked issues of sustainability by developing new multi-actor governance, policy-making and leadership capacities. The conference offers researchers and workers in local and regional development an opportunity to collectively explore and discuss these key issues from a multitude of perspectives and with different theoretical stand points and with empirical observations from different parts of the world.
Register before February 17th to the conference "Shape and be Shaped: The Future Dynamics of Regional Development"
The Seed Money Facility is a new grant scheme for the Baltic Sea Region. The main goal of the seed money is to support preparation of flagship projects and other strategic initiatives (for EU Structural Funds, national funding agencies or other funding programmes in 2014 and beyond) contributing to the implementation of the Action Plan to the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region.
Register for the information day by 14 February 2013.
Commissioner Hahn signals huge progress on Greece's use of Structural funds, 'but more work still to be done'
Commissioner Johannes Hahn and Greek Minister for Development, Competitiveness, Infrastructure and Transport Kostis Hatzidakis met in Brussels today to review Greece's implementation of EU Structural and Cohesion Funds. Commissioner Hahn praised efforts so far saying “I am deeply impressed at Greece's ability to submit payment claims of up to 3.2 billion EUR which covers 87% of the target set for this last year under the Memorandum of Understanding. This is a huge success which I very much appreciate”. Minister Hatzidakis pledged that the Greek government, besides effectively implementing regional funds, would also continue in their effort to fulfill the objectives set by the European Commission in terms of priority projects and SMEs to stimulate the economy.
Naco Technologies is the first coating production company in Latvia based on nano technology. The innovative start-up company which benefited from EU financing opened its doors in summer 2012 in Riga. Manufacturing facility was installed and a new high-speed ion-plasma magnetron sputtering has been patented.
The new patented technology has a number of advantages: Firstly, coating products can be manufactured 10 times faster than with previous generation coating technologies, and thanks to the energy-efficient equipment, the environmentally damaging chemical coating methods are replaced with environmentally friendly technologies.
Secondly, due to its universal properties, this new technology makes tailor-made coating products available and the same coating machine can provide a wide variety of technical solutions for different industries. Naco Technologies is working with several global players in the automotive industry who are seeking for ways to improve efficiency in their products.
The successful establishment of the company was made possible by the possibility to obtain early-stage equity financing. In particular, two Funds have been created under the JEREMIE initiative, mobilising EU Funds into privately-managed risk capital funds to encourage the establishment and development of innovative, high-growth technology start-ups.
Currently Naco Technologies has a team of eight people, including four PhD researchers of material science. Its ambition is at least to double production capacity in 2013 and to continue to recruit graduates in material science.
Alexander Parfinovics, CEO and co-founder of Naco Technologies states about the project:
“Naco Technologies has an ambition to become a significant player in the global coating industry in Latvia and the rest of the world. Thanks to the support provided by EU investment, we have the core elements to achieve that goal: leading technology, talented scientists, and an internationally focused team. This will enable the company to provide coating production, equipment and service support, initially from Latvia and then from all over the world."
The European Commission has approved an investment of €34.7 million from the European Regional Development fund (ERDF) for the construction of 1410 km broadband infrastructure in the Polish region Swietokrzyskie. As a direct result of the project, 220,000 more people will gain access to broadband in one of the less developed regions of Poland. This project brings the country closer to reaching the objectives of the Digital Agenda for Europe in terms of basic broadband and Next Generation Access and opens the door to the digital economy in this region.
More information on the Polish Representation website.
Commissioner for Regional Policy Johannes Hahn is now on Twitter. Follow him!
EU institutions, regional partnerships and academic institutions are invited to submit proposals for the OPEN DAYS University workshops or speakers (7 – 10 October 2013). You will find the conditions for participation and the related form (Word document to be downloaded) on the page dedicated to the OPEN DAYS University. We are looking for your applications until the 6 March.
The first bi-annual meeting of 2013 between the Commission's Directorate-General for Regional and Urban Policy (DG REGIO) and representatives from regional offices in Brussels takes place on 22 January 2013. EU Commissioner for Regional Policy, Johannes Hahn, will present the state of play of the budget and legislative negotiations on the future cohesion policy for 2014-2020 and the preparation of the new programmes. This will be followed by an open floor discussion. Registration for this event has now closed but you can follow the meeting live from 11h00 to 12h00 in English, French and German.
CoR survey on "An Industrial Policy for the Globalisation Era" Flagship Initiative
"An Industrial Policy for the Globalisation Era" is one of the seven Flagship Initiatives developed under the Europe 2020 Strategy, adopted by the European Commission in 2010 with the objective of boosting growth by creating a stable industrial base, primarily through the strong involvement of SMEs. Preparing for the Strategy’s mid-term review in 2014, the Committee of the Regions (CoR) invites local and regional stakeholders in all Member States to express their views on the implementation process of industrial policy measures to contribute to the assessment. The outcome of the survey will be discussed at a CoR conference to be held on 10 April 2013 in Brussels.
Deadline to participate in the survey: 1 March 2013
We are pleased to inform you that Regional Policy DG of the European Commission has launched the 2014 RegioStars Awards.
The RegioStars Awards, as part of the Regions for Economic Change initiative, are targeted at the identification, dissemination and communication of good, innovative practices funded through the EU's Cohesion policy.
The application process for the 2014 RegioStars Awards is now open. The Award Categories for 2014 are:
1. SMART GROWTH: SME innovation
2. SUSTAINABLE GROWTH: Green growth and jobs through Bio-economy
3. INCLUSIVE GROWTH: Creating jobs for the young generation
4. CITYSTAR: Investment projects in sustainable urban public transport
5. Major Investment Projects: Energy efficiency and the low carbon economy
Applications should be sent by 19 April 2013 to the electronic address REGIO-STARS@ec.europa.eu . The selected finalists will have the opportunity to showcase their projects before an independent jury during the eleventh annual European Week of Regions and Cities - OPEN DAYS 2013. The Award ceremony itself will take place in Brussels in early 2014.
Further information on how to apply, including on the eligibility and awards criteria, can be found on the RegioStars website.
Just before the year-end break, on 20-21 December Director General Walter Deffaa travelled to Guangzhou, China in the framework of the 2012 Regional Policy Dialogue, including the Seventh High-Level China-EU seminar on regional policy. Mr Deffaa was accompanied by Ronnie Hall, Principal advisor, and Ramon Lopez, international relations desk officer. The mission included visits to Sino-European cooperation projects, and meetings with the Vice Governor of Guangdong, the Vice Mayor of Guangzhou and the Pearl River Delta chapter of the European Chamber of Commerce in China. The latter provided many insights into doing business in China (heavy procedures for business establishment; labour shortages; rapidly rising minimum salaries (13% pa), the drift of qualified labour to Beijing and Shanghai) as well as into the many opportunities, for example, in exporting green technologies.
The 2012 Regional Policy Dialogue led to an agreement on the 2013 work programme which will prioritize cooperation on the themes of: integrated urban-rural territorial development; regional policy legislative and governance instruments and practices; the definition of regions and definition of eligibility for regional support; cooperation between EU and Chinese regions on regional innovation and economic development; financing mechanisms, public private partnerships and innovative infrastructure financing. Read the Joint Statement of Conclusions.
The High-Level seminar on urban development was opened by the Vice-Governor of Guangdong Province. Mr Deffaa and Mr Fang Hengshan, director general of the National Development and Reform Commission, gave the key-note speeches. The different interventions from Chinese and EU experts focused on the key issues facing urban areas and relation with the rural hinterland.
Ireland has just taken over the helm of the European Council and on 9 January presented its work programme and priorities for the first half of 2013. The detailed programme “For Stability, Growth and Jobs” sets out the following as core principles of the Irish Presidency:
- People-centred recovery, designed to last
- Investment in job-friendly growth and in Europe’s resources
- Europe and the world: a win-win engagement with our partners
Securing agreement on the Multi-annual Financial Framework, which sets out proposals for the EU’s future financing from 2014-2020 is the absolute priority. The Presidency will then prioritise agreement on the overall legislative package for cohesion policy 2014-2020 to deliver benefits for citizens and EU business over the coming decades. The Presidency will also place a spotlight on youth unemployment for their six-month reign, to avoid the creation of a ‘lost generation’. The topic will be the main focus of an informal Ministerial meeting in Dublin in February.
The company Light Environment Control S.L. (LEC) is located in the town of Barbate, Andalusia, Spain. It was founded 2005 by Mr José Luis Garcia Moreno who started together with a first Research & Development and Innovation team to investigate an alternative lighting system being more energy saving and environmentally friendly than the conventional one. In 2007, LEC became the first company in Europe to light an entire city with LED technology.
The most important investment done by LEC is the Research &Development and Innovation centre, which benefited from an EU co-financing of almost EUR 1.32 million. Thanks to its construction, the company is able to create and develop new projects. The whole production chain, starting with the research, design, development and manufacturing are done within the company. With the innovation centre, the company became a benchmark in the led sector and one of the leaders at national level, giving effective and tailor-made solutions to its clients.
LEC is located in one the most depressed areas of Spain with 40% of unemployment in 2012. Since LEC installed its new production centre for the design, research and manufacture of led-lighting systems, it has created 100 direct jobs and around 150 indirect jobs. It has also permitted to keep high skilled professionals from the region.
Mr José Luis García Moreno, General Manager of LEC, states about the project:
"Thanks to the European Funds, we have designed this new production facility where we have installed all our equipment. Now, our strategic plan is to end up with the national market expansion and to start developing a new strategy to internationalize the company and bring our products to the whole world ".
LEC website: www.lecsl.com
Managing authority: Spanish Ministry of Economy and Finance, Management of EU-funds
On 31 January, the Commission will reveal the RegioStars 2013 winners, awarding Europe’s most innovative projects having benefited from European regional policy support.
The objective of the RegioStars Awards is to identify good practices in regional development and to highlight original and innovative projects which could be attractive and inspiring to other regions. For this 6th edition of the Awards, the European Commission has received a record number of 149 applications. An independent Jury will select the winners, who will receive the awards from the European Commissioner for Regional Policy, Johannes Hahn, and the President of the RegioStars Jury, Luc Van den Brande, during a ceremony in Brussels.
At the European Council of 14th December, EU Heads of State and Government invited the European Commission to put forward a proposal for a new Macro-Regional Strategy for the Adriatic-Ionian Region before the end of 2014. Building on the successes of the current Macro-Regions in the Danube and Baltic Sea regions, the Commission will now proceed to draw up a draft strategy for the 8 countries concerned (Greece, Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro and Albania). Commissioner for Regional Policy, Johannes Hahn met with the Foreign Ministers of the participating countries on 19 November to discuss the main elements of the future territorial cooperation of the Adriatic-Ionian countries.
The European Council also called for the full implementation of the revised Baltic Sea Strategy and for a deeper cooperation with the Northern Dimension.
Read the Council Conclusions.
The Managing Authority for the Regional Operational Programme in Romania has just launched an English language version of their well-established magazine "Regio". This publication, which will appear every 4 months in English, promotes projects financed under the ERDF in Romania, within the Regional Operational Programme. As noted in the editorial "Regio Magazine aims at revealing how our real life is improving after having spent EU money on our hospitals, schools, roads, new technologies and new business ideas".
The first issue features an interview with Eduard Hellvig, Minister for Regional Development and Tourism, as well as stories on a wide range of projects in Romania and a calendar of upcoming events.
The magazine is delivered to various institutions in Romania (the Office of the European Parliament in Bucharest, Ministry for European Affairs, etc) and 20 copies of the first issue are available in the DG REGIO Infocentre. It can also be downloaded as a PDF from their website here: http://www.inforegio.ro/sites/default/files/Revista%20Regio%20nr.%201%20ENG%20site_0.pdf
'Europe's regions and cities taking off for 2020' is the main motto for the next edition of OPEN DAYS, the major event on cohesion policy in Europe that kicked-off during the meeting with the event´s partners yesterday. Workshops and debates will be organised around three sub-themes:
- Managing change 2014-2020
- Synergies and cooperation
- Challenges and solutions
The call for applications for DG REGIO and other Commission services, as well as for the OPEN DAYS University will be launched as of 15 January – the application form will be available on the OPEN DAYS 2013 website.
Follow it on Twitter: #euopendays.
Project of the week "Louvre-Lens": Local development through a strong and ambitious cultural programme
The "Louvre-Lens" museum opened its doors to the public today. The placement of the Museum of the Louvre in Lens in the Nord-Pas-De-Calais region was decided in November 2004 and constitutes a first for this area. Louvre-Lens grew from the desire of the French government to take a new step towards decentralisation and the Museum of Louvre's wish to renew its tradition of local engagement, and from the conviction of Nord-Pas-de-Calais local collectives that local development should take the form of a strong and ambitious cultural programme.
The Louvre-Lens project, which benefitted from EU co-financing to the tune of 35 million Euro – 20% of the total – is a large scale investment which comprises the museum spread over 5 buildings, exhibition spaces in three buildings – the “Galerie des Temps” or permanent exhibition, the temporary exhibition space and the glass pavilion – and the park around the museum. It responds to the desire for a high quality museum which is open to all – access to the “Galerie des Temps”.
The location of a decentralised branch of the prestigious Parisian Louvre museum on the old site of a mine in Lens is also an exceptional opportunity for economic development for this region which has been particularly affected by de-industrialisation. In addition to the 50 000 visitors expected and the 100 jobs directly created, the Museum of the Louvre in Lens will act as an accelerator for existing urban development projects and will generate new projects which will develop around the museum. In this context Euralens has been created, which is a federative projects structure for the Nord-Pas-de-Calais region.
To know more about the Louvre-Lens project:
- Région Nord-Pas-de-Calais (intermediary body)
- Site de la Préfecture de Région Nord-Pas-de- Calais (managing authority)
The Commission has given the green light for the disbursement of a record sum of EUR 670 million from the European Union Solidarity Fund (EUSF) to Italy for recovery operations in the wake of the devastating earthquakesin Emilia-Romagna earlier this year.
The severe earthquakes hit the region with a force of 5.9 on the Richter scale on 20 May 2012, followed by hundreds of aftershocks spreading out into the neighbouring regions of Veneto and Lombardy. The earthquakes caused 27 deaths; an estimated 350 people were injured and over 45 000 people had to be evacuated. There was serious and widespread damage to buildings, infrastructure, businesses, industrial facilities, agriculture and to the important cultural heritage sector.
This is the largest amount of aid granted by the Fund since it was created in 2002, reflecting the scale of damage that was inflicted by these earthquakes here on thousands of families, on their homes, their livelihoods and on the region's economy as a whole.
Since the EUSF is financed over and above the normal EU budget, the Commission proposed on 19 September an amending budget to cover the amount involved, which was subject to the approval of EU Finance Ministers and the European Parliament. The Italian authorities have announced that the bulk of the money (338 million) is foreseen to cover the costs of emergency aid and rescue operations as well as temporary accommodation. Some EUR 292 million are earmarked for the immediate restoration of education and health facilities, and reparation of electricity and water systems. The full amount of the grant is expected to be paid out in coming days.
European Commission's Directorate General for Regional and Urban Policy together with Joint Research Centre's Institute for Prospective Technological Studies (JRC-IPTS) are organising a seminar at IPTS premises dedicated to research and innovation strategies for Smart Specialisation 2014-2020.
The event, also co-organised by Spanish Ministry of the Finance and Public Administations and Junta of Andalusia (Regional Government), will bring together internationally reputed experts who will be also assisting in the development of such strategies in Spain. More than 120 regional public officials have confirmed attendance.
"Smart specialisation" is a strategic approach to economic development through targeted support for research and innovation. It was announced in the "Innovation Union flagship initiative of the Europe 2020 Strategy as the key action of Cohesion Policy in the field of innovation. The development of "research and innovation strategies for smart specialisation" was proposed as a pre-condition for countries and regions availing of the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD). The aim is to ensure more effective and efficient innovation policy strategies at national and regional level to maximise the impact of EU investment.
New Skills and Jobs Survey
The Europe 2020 "Agenda for New Skills and Jobs" aims to modernise labour markets, boost employment and ensure the sustainability of our social models. This means helping people to acquire the skills they will need to adapt to new labour market conditions and potential career shifts.
Over two years after its adoption, the Committee of the Regions (CoR) will take stock of progress with the Agenda for New Skills and Jobs in a conference to be held on 28 February and 1 March 2013 in Dublin. This conference will be the second of a series of CoR events and monitoring activities devoted to Europe 2020 flagship initiatives.
In order to monitor the implementation of flagship initiatives, the Europe 2020 Monitoring Platform is launching a survey of EU local and regional authorities. The outcome of this survey will be presented at the conference. It will also feed into the 4th CoR Monitoring Report on Europe 2020, to be published in October 2013, and into the CoR contribution to the mid-term review of Europe 2020 in 2014.
The Centre Region in Romania encompasses six counties, totalling 14% of the Romanian territory and 2.5 million inhabitants. Though it regularly faces major disasters like forest fires in the summer or mountains accidents in the winter, the region was served by a single emergency service which was overwhelmed and couldn’t provide assistance for all people in emergency situations.
In 2008, the Association for Inter-community Development "Transylvania Centre" benefited from nearly EUR 7.9 m EU funding in order to improve the equipment of the operational units for emergency situations in each of the six counties.
24 special vehicles for complex intervention for extrication and emergency medical care, 6 foam-water fire fighting trucks, 6 special vehicles for heavy extrications, 3 special vehicles for nuclear, biological, chemical and radiological research, as well as equipment for the mobile command and control centre have been purchased. 647 persons were trained and the number of mobile units equipped for emergency response rose from 87 to 127.
Since the implementation of this project in May 2010, the average response time of the mobile intervention units increased to 27 minutes in rural areas, instead of 48 minutes before, and 13 minutes in urban ones instead of 25 minutes. Many more lives can be saved now!
Simion Cretu, General Manager of the Agency for Regional Development-Center, speaks about the project:
“Thanks to the EU funding and to the fruitful partnership between the six counties, the emergency services were extended throughout the Centre Region and serve now over 2.5 million inhabitants in serious situations like fires, car accidents extrications, rescuing people and animals, clearing trees and construction elements or destructing unexploded ammunition. We definitely have here a project where European funds were invested in the sustainable economic and social development of a very large community inRomania”.
Romanian Ministry of Regional Development and Tourism (Managing Authority)
Mures County Council (Project leader)
The French government's web portal L'Europe s'engage en France is now available in English. The portal provides information on EU investments in France under the European Regional Development Fund, the European Social Fund, the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and the European Fisheries Fund. It includes information about how the funding is being used in each region, examples of co-funded projects and guidance for potential beneficiaries.
The Commission has just published a practical guide plotting a path to connect smart and sustainable growth in the framework of the forthcoming Smart Specialisation Strategies to be drawn up by regions and Member States.
The shift to a low-carbon and resource efficient economy represents both a challenge and an opportunity. In order to deliver benefits in terms of jobs and economic development, the deployment of a green economy needs to be very closely linked with innovation, both technological and non-technological.
This practical guide, aimed at European Regional Development Fund Managing Authorities shows concrete ways ahead to connect smart and sustainable growth, and draws from a broad range of good practice - often co-funded by EU Regional policy, in various areas such as eco-innovation, the bio-economy and ecosystems as well as renewable energy or adaptation to climate change.
Commissioner Johannes Hahn has been presented with a report on the use of 'Smart Specialisation' strategies to design better public policies for boosting innovation-driven growth in EU regions through EU Cohesion Policy. The report, compiled by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), was also received by Commission Vice-President with responsibility for Industry and Entrepreneurship, Antonio Tajani and Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science, Máire Geoghegan-Quinn.
The report examines the development of indicators and metrics for smart specialisation strategies and looks at 15 case studies of country and regional experience in designing and implementing such strategies.
"Smart specialisation" is a strategic approach to economic development through targeted support for research and innovation and was announced in the 'Innovation Union' flagship initiative of the Europe 2020 Strategy as the key action of Cohesion Policy in the field of innovation. The development of "research and innovation strategies for smart specialisation" was proposed as a pre-condition for countries and regions availing of the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD). The aim is to ensure more effective and efficient innovation policy strategies at national and regional level to maximise the impact of EU investment.
Copenhagen is this year hosting the annual conference of URBACT - the European exchange and learning programme of European cities promoting sustainable urban development. URBACT is an EU initiative involving 300 cities – and nearly two-thirds of Europe's capitals - to build networks, exchange information and to provide concrete help in setting up EU-funded projects. This year's conference springs from a study commissioned by the Directorate-General for Regional and Urban Policy, "Cities of Tomorrow". The conference will discuss priority issues in the urban context such as new job opportunities, social innovation, urban transport, mobility and energy efficiency.
EU Commissioner for Regional Policy, Johannes Hahn will attend the conference and make the case for a new approach to urban policy and communities, calling for "A new, more prominent role for EU Urban Policy" in 2014-2020.
The 1st Annual Forum of the EU Strategy for the Danube Region (EUSDR), co-organised by the European Commission and Bavaria, took place in Regensburg on 27-28 November. In opening the Conference, Commissioner Hahn highlighted the Strategy work as key to Cohesion Policy as engine of growth. In a centre-piece speech, Chancellor Angela Merkel described the EU Strategy for the Danube Region as a new way to overcome 20th century division and conflicts in the Region, and as an important impulse for overall socio-economic development. It attracted more than 600 high level participants from the Region, including Ministers, showing the commitment of the countries to the Strategy.
This first Forum provided the overall possibility to discuss the implementation of the Strategy, to reflect on its added value and to assess best ways forward. The discussion started through two plenary sessions which address the strengths and the weakness of the region and what the Strategy can do for them. During the second day, the participants joined 6 workshops that tried to tackle the specific issues and challenges of the Strategy. Although the conference was focused on the Strategy, these two days were also the occasion for a broader discussion on the challenges for the Region in its global perspective. Indeed the title was 'How can the Danube Region can help to build a more competitive Europe?".
As stated by Commissioner Hahn, and confirmed by the other speeches throughout the two days of Forum, the Strategy is the key in the Region to promote growth and development. The key speakers at ministerial level underlined the role the EUSDR was now playing in more coordinated investments, ecological and economic development in the Region. They also emphasised the strategic aspect of more fully bringing this part of Europe - including candidate, potential candidate or neighbouring countries - into the EU frames. Also Chancellor Merkel underlined the positive role of the Strategy in facilitating the integration pre and post accession of the countries. The Chancellor emphasised that this had to come from EU level, and that EU cohesion policy is an important motor for growth. This Strategy brought the EU closer to the people.
The Committee of the Regions (CoR) and the European Commission Directorate-General for Regional and Urban Policy (DG REGIO) invite interested stakeholders to join the OPEN DAYS 2013 Kick-off meeting (11:00-12:15, Brussels). Opened by Directors-General Gerhard Stahl (CoR) and Walter Deffaa (DG REGIO), the meeting will provide the opportunity to evaluate the OPEN DAYS 2012, present the 2013 thematic priorities and inform about conditions of participation and the timetable for 2013. More information will be posted beginning of December on the OPEN DAYS 2013 website.
If you wish to participate at the Kick-off meeting, you can register here (one member per organisation only). You can also follow the meeting online – the link will be provided on the OPEN DAYS 2013 website.
Note: the meeting is reserved for:
- regional and local authorities and EGTCs;
- national and regional managing authorities in charge of EU funds with territorial impact (ERDF, Cohesion Fund, ESF, EAFRD, and EMFF);
- Directorates-General of the European Commission;European associations of regional and local authorities;
- Companies involved in public-private partnerships;
- European associations representing the business sector;
- Financial institutions and their European associations
The European Urban Knowledge Network (EUKN) has recently gained a new legal status as a European Grouping of Territorial Cooperation (EGTC). To celebrate this achievement the organisation is hosting an EUKN EGTC launch event on December 12th in Brussels.
EUKN was established in 2005 to enhance the exchange of expertise in the field of urban development in Europe at all governmental levels. The new legal status will facilitate stronger cooperation between the actors involved in urban development issues and the organisation will thus be able to provide greater support to European cities.
The EUKN EGTC Launch Event aims to emphasise the necessity of sharing experiences on the different aspects of urban development in order to encourage cooperation between Member States at various levels and overcome difficulties through joint effort. The network consists of 15 Member States: Belgium, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom.
What role can regional and local authorities play in promoting employment, apprenticeships, training and mobility for young people in Europe?
This issue will be at the heart of a conference organised by the Committee of the Regions on 13 December, under the heading "Youth on the Move: the perspectives of regional and local authorities".
Participants will assess the state of play with the implementation of Youth on the Move, one of seven flagship initiatives that are being rolled out as part of the EU's Europe 2020 strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth. They will also have the opportunity to share experiences and good practice examples.
For further information and online registration see the conference website.
Project of the Week: Three innovation centres in Cornwall for small companies to grow and collaborate
In the Cornwall region of the United Kingdom, there is a large percentage of Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs). It was felt that these Cornish SMEs would benefit from centres for innovation and incubation space where businesses could grow and collaborate, leading to business success. All three Innovation Centres are operated by Plymouth University and companies using these centres are automatically a part of the University’s enterprise mission, which is working to stimulate economic growth and development through access to research and knowledge transfer.
The Pool Innovation Centre (PIC), which is situated in the regeneration area of Camborne, Pool, and Redruth, benefited from EU financing of almost £9m, and was the first to be built. It has been successful since its opening in July 2010, establishing a blueprint for the Cornwall Innovation Centre programme. Reaching 50% capacity inside six months – more than two years ahead of schedule – the Centre is now at its optimum operating level, home to 44 businesses with a combined turnover of over £12m per annum. In its first year of operation alone, PIC assisted client businesses to achieve average growth of over 40% with 45 new jobs created, and 15 others safeguarded. That job creation figure is now approaching 80.
PIC has close links to its sister innovation centre at Tremough (Tremough Innovation Centre –TIC) which opened in January 2012 and benefited from EU-financing of almost £10m. TIC has followed the same stellar trajectory as PIC, and is home to 35 clients, working specifically with the arts, media and creative and environmental and sustainability technologies.
The Health and Wellbeing Innovation Centre in Truro (HWIC), which has also benefited from EU financing of almost £ 10m, is due to open in early 2013. It will take advantage of significant potential synergies with an emerging health and wellbeing cluster located close to the Royal Cornwall Hospital Trust campus.
Chris Pomfret, Chair of the Local Enterprise Partnership and Deputy Chair of the Convergence Local Management Committee, which steers the Convergence programme said: “The three Innovation Centres in Cornwall are an important building block in the economic development strategy for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. They nurture start-up and nascent businesses and provide the infrastructure needed for Cornish businesses to research, develop and collaborate together. With the ERDF investment we were able to design and build the centres in a short timeframe, first PIC, then TIC and now HWIC creating an economic buzz around the businesses located in the buildings. With job creation and with PIC reaching its capacity target two years ahead of schedule it sends out the message that Cornwall is ready for business not only now, but also into the future.”
Commission President José Manuel Barroso met with leaders from the "friends of cohesion policy" group meeting at the European Parliament on 13th November. The 16 country strong grouping brings together the leaders of Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Greece, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia and Spain; formed to co-ordinate policy objectives in this area for the future.
Commission President José Manuel Barroso stated: "Cohesion is critically important because it is not only in the interest of the most vulnerable regions, the less developed regions of Europe, but for growth as a whole. … I'm a friend of cohesion but I'm also a friend of better spending. I'd like to see the friends of cohesion and the friends of better spending united in a grand coalition as the friends of growth, a truly European coalition for Europe."
President pinpointed the EU's seven-year budget, the Multiannual Financial Framework, as the most important instrument for investment in growth and called "on all Heads of State and Government to go an extra mile to reach a consensus at next week special European Council and also with the European Parliament by the end of the year."
Representatives from the employers' organisation BusinessEurope, the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) and the European Association of SMEs were also present at the meeting.
Read the President's full speech
Commissioner Hahn met today Mr Kostis Hatzidakis, Greek Minister of Development, Competitiveness, Infrastructure, Transport and Networks.
The main aim of the meeting was to discuss the most challenging implementation issues, among others EU funds absorption target for 2012 and successful implementation of priority projects. After the meeting Commissioner Hahn said: 'I am rather confident that Greece will be able to meet structural funds absorption target that has been agreed in the Memorandum of Understanding and which in 2012 amounts to 3.7 billion EUR. Greece should continue efforts to make the best use of the cohesion policy funds that are available for the country, as they are the source of growth and jobs'.
Minister Hatzidakis confirmed also that Greek authorities continue efforts to timely implement priority projects. He announced that for those priority projects that are delayed special coordinators were appointed to facilitate the removal of implementation bottlenecks.
Commissioner Hahn was also informed about the Greek government actions aimed at simplification of procedures and the improvements on the SME access to finance. Especially for the latter there is a need to provide as soon as possible - also via the EIB assistance - solutions to SMEs liquidity problems. Minister Hatzidakis and Commissioner Hahn discussed also a need to have a detailed overview of the tourism projects currently implemented and for the regional governors to put more emphasis on the finalisation of those projects as they enhance the attractiveness of the Greek regions for foreigners.
Commissioner Johannes Hahn meets Slovak Prime Minister and outlines future priorities for EU funds in Slovakia
Commissioner Johannes Hahn is in Bratislava to meet Prime Minister Robert Fico and to participate in concrete discussions with the Council of Government on regional policy for the next EU spending round. The Commissioner and Prime Minister will discuss how EU funds can best be deployed to deliver more growth and jobs in Slovakia. The visit comes at a critical phase in talks between Member States and the European Parliament on the EU's next 7-year budget and the Commission's proposals for future regional policy.
Commissioner Hahn will outline how the European Commission believes Slovakia can best prioritise EU investment in the next 2014-2020 budget, in close alignment with the 'Europe2020 Strategy' – the EU's long-term growth agenda. The Commissioner will meet with the Council of Government preparing the Partnership Agreement for EU Regional Policy in Slovakia for 2014-2012. He will also urge the Slovak authorities to work hard on implementing current programmes to respond to the crisis and ensure the full and efficient take-up of EU investments.
Project of the Week: A high-tech and "green" building as meeting point for the village community of Dambel
Dambel is a small village with 453 inhabitants located in the north-west of Trentino, Italy.
In order to create a new multi-function space for its community and revitalise the community life in the village, the Municipality of Dambel resolved to renovate an old and wide public building while applying "green-building" technology.
The renovated public building, which benefited from EUR 625 000 EU financing, was inaugurated in July 2012. The main frames and structures of the renovated building are made of local wood. The green rooftop takes innovative solutions for a complete recovery of rain-waters. Water-recovery is used to irrigate the gardens around the building itself. The new building also uses advanced domotics system with renewable energy sources. For instance the heating is based on a biomass –boiler and performs better and more environmental-friendly than traditional oil-boilers.
The new energy saving building currently houses a store, a day nursery with almost 20 children, the Town Hall, the town clinic and a huge hall available for Municipality-Council and village community meetings which represents a wide public services offer for a village of this size. It is expected that in average around 7000 people from the village and it surroundings will be attending these new premises each year.
Mr. Flavio Pedrotti, Major of Dambel, states about the project:
"We had been claiming for financing in order to renovate a building where many offices and one day nursery were located. Thanks to financing from the EU, the old building could be totally renovated and became the most relevant meeting point for citizens in the village. Due to green technologies and systems adopted for the new building, it was awarded the green certification ARCA - Italian certification quality system for building using wood-. The new building offers multiple services for citizenship in one only site. It is extraordinary for a village of this size".
Europe is a complex patchwork of urban and rural areas, where people live in different ways but face common challenges. City- and country-dwellers are mutually dependent, and both sides need to cooperate to achieve a sustainable future for everyone.
A new series of clips show how the European Union’s Rurban initiative fosters formal and informal partnerships around a whole string of issues such as research and innovation, energy, water supply, food production, transport, tourism and leisure, and many more.
Through its cohesion policy, the EU invests more than one-third of its budget in promoting sustainable and inclusive development across Europe. The aim is for all regions, whether urban or rural, to have equal access to the benefits of growth.
Many good examples of rural-urban cooperation already exist around Europe. The clips show three case studies: sparsely populated Central Finland, the Metropolitan Region of Nuremberg, in Germany, and the province of Forlì-Cesena, in central Italy.
Watch the clips here.
EU Regional Policy Commissioner Johannes Hahn meets Portuguese Prime Minister and outlines future priorities for EU funds in Portugal
Commissioner Johannes Hahn is in Lisbon today and tomorrow to meet Prime Minister Passos Coehlo and discuss how EU funds can best be deployed to deliver more growth and jobs in Portugal in the next round of EU spending. The Commissioner will also meet with Minister for Finance, Vítor Gaspar, Minister for the Economy and Employment, Álvaro Santos Pereira, and State Secretary Almeida Henriques. The visit comes at a critical phase in talks between Member States and the European Parliament on the next seven-year budget of the Union and the Commission's proposals for future regional policy.
During his visit the Commissioner will present the Commission's ideas about how he believes Portugal can strengthen its economy and maximise the benefits of EU investment by prioritising key sectors with the highest growth potential - in close alignment with 'Europe2020'– the EU's long-term growth agenda.
Commissioner for Regional Policy, Johannes Hahn will tomorrow attend an informal ministerial meeting, hosted by the Cyprus Presidency in Nicosia, where he will lay down plans for the better spending of EU Structural Funds to the Regional Policy Ministers form all 27 Member States. The strengthened approach - as presented in the Commission's policy proposals for 2014-2020 aims for a better alignment with the EU's broader policy goals and its long-term growth and jobs strategy, 'Europe2020'. The Commissioner will also call for a more regular exchange and high-level political debate on future regional policy, to take stock of progress in achieving set goals and in strategically contributing to EU growth through smarter investment.
Commissioner for Regional Policy Johannes Hahn today marked a historic moment as he crossed a new bridge connecting the Bulgarian region of Vidin to neighbouring and Calafat. The bridge which is co-financed by the EU is only the second bridge along the countries' 630 km border, demonstrating how the EU's Danube Strategy is stepping up co-operation in the region.
Commissioner Hahn stated: "I am proud that the EU Cohesion Fund has contributed to the building of this remarkable bridge and I am delighted to see the progress made, since I last visited in July. It is a rich symbol of 'Europe in action' - connecting communities and cultures, and achieving what our Union set out to do. It is a strategic link in the Trans- European corridors connecting South Eastern and Central Europe. This bridge opens up a whole range of opportunities for entrepreneurs, for innovators, academics, and young professionals on both sides of the water".
He added: "Alongside the newly signed Memorandum of Understanding between Romania and Bulgaria on sustainable development of inland waterway transport, the bridge is proof of good co-operation between the two countries, which I hope will continue in the framework of the Danube Strategy".
Commissioner Hahn accompanied the Prime-Minister of Bulgaria Boyko Borisov and Prime-Minister of Romania Victor Ponta.
A new interactive map showing a selection of projects that have received EU regional funding is now available on the European Commission's Inforegio website. This includes information on major projects, recent finalists from the 'RegioStars' competition and detailed case studies.
In addition to this European level map, several Managing Authorities have published interactive maps with detailed information about beneficiaries of EU regional funding in specific countries. These include:
We would be very interested to publicise other projects through our interactive map and other communication tools, including the 'Project of the Week' articles we publish on the Inforegio website. Please contact us if you would like to suggest a good practice example.
More than two years following its adoption, the Committee of the Regions will take stock of the Europe 2020 flagship initiative Youth on the Move in a conference to be held on 13 December 2012 in Brussels. This conference will be the first of a series of CoR events and monitoring initiatives surrounding the mid-term review of Europe 2020 in 2014.
To help the Committee of the Regions to monitor the implementation of Europe 2020 flagship initiatives, the Europe 2020 Monitoring Platform is launching the attached survey of EU local and regional authorities: Assessment of the "Youth on the Move" flagship initiative.
The outcome of this survey will feed into the 4th CoR Monitoring Report on Europe 2020, to be published in October 2013 and into the CoR contribution to the mid-term review of Europe 2020 in 2014
For more information and to download the questionnaire, follow this link: http://portal.cor.europa.eu/europe2020/MonitoringFlagships/Pages/YouthOnTheMove.aspx
We also invite you to share examples of successful implementation of Europe 2020-related projects in your own constituencies.
Commissioner for Regional Policy, Johannes Hahn, is in Greece today to outline the most effective way to use EU Regional Funds for growth in the EU's next long-term budget.
Commissioner Hahn will meet the 13 Governors of Greece's regions in Athens to set out where the European Commission believes the country can best concentrate its efforts in the next budget period 2014-2020 and to highlight where attention is needed to make the most of current funds. This will form a starting point for discussions on how programmes are designed and ultimately where investment is focused.
Commissioner Hahn will also travel to Thessaloniki where he will meet members of the business community in Northern Greece to assess the impact of regional funds on the ground and discuss measures to create a more business-friendly environment
Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union, has just published the Regional Yearbook 2012 and an accompanying online interactive tool. Both of these resources allow users to explore statistics relating to key regional development indicators such as population density, employment, R&D spending and other economic factors. Data comes from all 27 EU Member States, as well as, when available, the four EFTA countries (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland), the acceding country (Croatia) and three of the candidate countries (Montenegro, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Turkey).
The yearbook contains many separate maps, and so a new online tool has been developed to make viewing of this information in a graphical form more interactive and flexible.
The Eurostat regional yearbook 2012 includes fourteen chapters on economy, population, health, education, labour market, structural business statistics, tourism, information society, agriculture, transport, science, technology & innovation, European cities, coastal regions and territorial typologies.
- Full press release, including examples of information tables: http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_STAT-12-143_en.htm?locale=en
- Full Yearbook download ( PDF, 10MB, 220 pages): http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/cache/ITY_OFFPUB/KS-HA-12-001/EN/KS-HA-12-001-EN.PDF
- Interactive online tool: http://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/statistical-atlas/gis/viewer/
The Commission has launched a call for tender concerning broadband mapping initiatives of any kind (e.g. mapping of physical infrastructure, services or other broadband-relevant information). The study should provide authorities, consumers and industry with essential information. This information should allow policy makers and national regulatory authorities and other relevant entities, including market players to identify underserved areas and areas for improvement. They would also help the exploitation of synergies between networks including transport, energy, water and sewer that contribute to reducing the high costs of deployment. The deadline for submitting bids is 30 October 2012.
EU Commissioner for Regional Policy, Johannes Hahn and Vice-President of the European Commission, responsible for Competition policy, Joachim Almunia will hold a high level debate on State Aid, Regional Policy and Competition today at 10am. Discussions will delve into the on-going negotiations of the legal framework for the EU's future Regional Policy and the new set of rules on State Aid which is currently being drawn up. The event, part of OPEN DAYS 2012, offers regional partners a chance to put forward their views and have their voice heard at a crucial time for both policies.
You can follow the high-level debate here.
On 9th October, Commissioner for Regional Policy Johannes Hahn gave the 4 winners of the photo competition "Europe in my Region" their prizes. The four lucky people from Bulgaria, Romania and Poland who submitted the best pictures have each won €1000 of camera equipment and a trip for two to Brussels to collect their prizes during the "Open Days".
The photo competition was organized during July and August 2012 through the European Commission's Facebook page. Participants were invited to submit photos in two categories:
- "My project" (open to organisations that have benefited from EU regional funding)
- "Eyewitness" (open to anyone living in the EU who spots a project either in their region or when visiting another region)
The photos had to include evidence of EU regional funding (eg featuring a billboard, signpost, plaque etc… with the EU flag and information about the project).
The four winners are:
- Simeon Mitkov (Bulgaria)
- Cristina Dumitru Tabacaru (Romania)
- Boyan Ivanov (Bulgaria)
- Marek Babula (Poland)
The four winning photos were chosen by an independent jury:
- Dr Gillian Bristow (School of Planning and Geography, Cardiff University, UK)
- Jef Boes (Freelance photographer, Belgium)
- Olaf Kracht (Social media strategist and journalist, Germany)
The photo competition helped to raise awareness about the wide diversity of projects supported by EU regional policy that are making a difference to local communities across Europe. In total, there were over 500,000 visits to the Facebook application, over 600 eligible photos were submitted, and more than 7000 votes were cast.
The European Commission recently announced the finalists for the 2013 RegioStars Awards for innovation. The 27 projects competing in five categories highlight the excellent and innovative work being done on the ground and represent a good geographical spread across the Union. The finalists are welcomed to Brussels today to present their projects and to meet Commissioner Johannes Hahn at the Committee of the Regions. The Commissioner has also announced the categories for the 2014 Awards during Open Days 2012.
The workshops of the RegioStars 2013 finalists can be followed online.
Four days of debate and discussion on the future shape of EU Regional Policy and how it will remain the investment arm of the EU budget, will be officially opened by Herman Van Rompuy European Council President, European Commission President José Manuel Barroso and President of the European Parliament Martin Schulz at the European Parliament on October 8 at 16:00. The even can be followed LIVE. EU Commissioner for Regional Policy, Johannes Hahn, is co-hosting the event with President of the Committee of the Regions, Ramon Luis Valcarel. They will debate the added value of Regional Policy in spurring Europe's economic recovery and how it is actively encouraging ownership of the Europe 2020 Strategy, along with MEP Danuta Huebner, Chair of the Regional Development Committee and Minister of Interior, Representative of the Cyprus Presidency, Eleni Mavrou.
For further information, see the Open Days website.
Project of the Week: "PLUM" – How EU regional policy investment contributes to innovation and business success in a Polish company
The PLUM Company is a 20 years old company located in Ignatki near Białystok in the Podlaskie region, providing industrial electronics solutions for the gas, heating and waterwork systems industry.
The company specializes in the development of innovative measurement and control devices, which work in accordance with industry standards in Poland and other European countries. It uses EU financial support to develop innovative projects successfully and in this regard it will be presented to Commissioner for Regional Policy Johannes Hahn on 4th October as one best practise example in the Podlaskie region.
The latest project, which benefited from an EU financing of around EUR 600,000 was implemented in October 2011. The project aimed to expand the company's production of heating technology controllers as well as to increase the production capacity of the firm by building a new production plant. The investment therefore enabled PLUM to produce innovative heating technology controllers on a large scale, the company’s competitiveness and its technological capabilities have increased considerably and the entire production process has been modernized.
Moreover, the project enabled the company not to be dependent of one single industry, namely the natural gas industry and it has increased the flexibility of its business activities. 24 new jobs were created.
Mr Szumscy, Owner of the company PLUM, states:
"At the very beginning of our activity, we defined two pillars supporting our development – innovative technologies and reliable workforce. Due to our bold actions and experience, we are now working in an advanced complex of professionally furnished buildings with an area of over 4 601 m2. We have a fully automated production line, equipped with modern machines of well-known companies at our disposal and we are constantly investing to further improve and develop our production and laboratories infrastructure with the support of the EU Regional Policy funds. We provide safe solutions that reduce costs and meet all the requirements of relevant standards and we offer solutions of the highest quality to all our customers with our 200 employees".
OPEN DAYS 2012 – Europe's regions join the call for a strong Cohesion Policy as Europe's growth fund.
Brussels, 8-11 October
The biggest annual event in the world of regional and urban policy marks its 10th anniversary at a crucial time for EU Cohesion Policy. Talks on the EU budget and the future shape of cohesion policy are entering their final and critical phase. Open Days 2012 will bring together some 6000 regional policy practitioners from all over Europe to share best practice and reinforce Regional Policy as the main instrument to realise the growth goals of Europe2020 and supporting the EU's exit from the crisis. Under the banner of 'Europe's regions and cities: Making a difference', over 100 seminars and workshops will focus on the priorities for future funding:
- Smart and green growth for all, promoting innovation/research and development
- support for SME's
- Territorial cooperation
Delivering and measuring results for a more effective policy. OPEN DAYS 2012 will take stock of achievements so far and define the future shape of policy.
Would you like to ask the European Commission, European Parliament or the Committee of the Regions about EU regional policy? There will be an opportunity to raise questions via Twitter during the opening session of the European Week of Regions and Cities on Monday 8 October between 4-6pm. Don't forget to include the #euopendays hashtag in your tweet. The most relevant questions will be included in the debate with Johannes Hahn, European Commissioner for Regional Policy, Danuta Hübner, Chair of the European Parliament Committee on Regional Development, and Ramón Luis Valcárcel, President of the Committee of the Regions.
There will be live webstreaming of the opening session on 8 October.
More information: www.opendays.europa.eu
Building on Success : EU Regional Policy Commissioner Johannes Hahn sets out his vision for EU funds in Poland
Commissioner Johannes Hahn travels to Poland later today to launch the first of a series of concrete discussions with regions and ministries around Europe on regional policy for the next EU spending round. He starts in Poland with an outline on how EU structural funds can be best be deployed to deliver more growth and jobs. The visit comes at a critical phase in talks between EU member states and the European Parliament on the EU's next 7 year budget and the Commission's proposals for future regional policy.
Four lucky people from Bulgaria, Romania and Poland have each won €1000 of camera equipment and a trip for two to Brussels.
They will come to the European Week of Regions and Cities ("Open Days") on 9 October to collect their prizes, which were awarded for photos they submitted in the framework of the "Europe in My Region" photo competition. The photo competition was organised during July and August 2012 through the European Commission's Facebook page. Participants were invited to submit photos in two categories:
- "My project" (open to organisations that have benefited from EU regional funding)
- "Eyewitness" (open to anyone living in the EU who spots a project either in their region or when visiting another region)
The photos had to include evidence of EU regional funding (eg featuring a billboard, signpost, plaque etc… with the EU flag and information about the project).
Commissioner Hahn will present the prizes on 9 October to the four winners:
- Simeon Mitkov (Bulgaria)
- Cristina Dumitru Tabacaru (Romania)
- Boyan Ivanov (Bulgaria)
- Marek Babula (Poland)
The four winning photos were chosen by an independent jury:
- Dr Gillian Bristow (School of Planning and Geography, Cardiff University, UK)
- Jef Boes (Freelance photographer, Belgium)
- Olaf Kra cht (Social media strategist and journalist, Germany)
The photo competition helped to raise awareness about the wide diversity of projects supported by EU regional policy that are making a difference to local communities across Europe. In total, there were over 500,000 visits to the Facebook application, over 600 eligible photos were submitted, and more than 7000 votes were cast.
New working Paper: The Role of International Transfers in Public Investment in CESEE: The European Commission's experience with Structural Funds
Central, Eastern and Southern European Economies (CESEE) are the main beneficiaries of cohesion policy. In the context of the current financial and economic crisis, it is more than ever necessary to ensure that public money is wisely spent and delivers the
expected results. However, measuring the impact of cohesion policy is not an easy task. Do you want to learn more about such challenge? Do you want to know how well we did and what we propose in order to do even better in the future? Read the Working Paper.
The autumn 2012 edition of Panorama magazine contains an exclusive interview with Jacques Delors, former President of the European Commission 1985-1995. Delors discusses the history and development of cohesion policy and its place at the heart of the European project, and stresses its continued importance for the future development of the regions of Europe. He also warns that cohesion policy must not be confused with competitiveness policy and calls for a recalculation of economic wellbeing to ensure that the full benefits of regional development are taken into account.
Regarding Europe's response to the current economic crisis, he says ‘It is important to distinguish between the European solidarity in the face of the economic crisis and the overriding solidarity of Europe. They are two different things. Indeed it is my view that structural policy should not be side-tracked by the need to respond to the crisis. It has its own logic, which can if necessary be adjusted according to changing economic reality.’
Regional policy, he says, 'embodies one of the philosophical points of European construction which is subsidiarity’ and he believes that cohesion policy is a way to bring the European project closer to the European citizen: 'We should be building a European Union of diversity with the maximum of initiative coming from the base.’
The full article, and much more, can be found inside Panorama 43, currently available in English, French and German. Other language versions will follow soon.
Financial instruments, Open Days, and an exclusive interview with Jacques Delors in this season's Panorama magazine
The autumn 2012 edition of Panorama magazine entitled "Investing in regions" is now online. The centrepiece is a 6 page feature on the use of Financial instruments to support regional policy, which analyses the various forms of loans and venture capital available, and gives examples of successful projects from the UK, Sweden, Poland and Estonia. The support provided by the JEREMIE, JASMINE and JESSICA initiatives is also detailed, as well as some of the challenges faced in implementing and allocating financing and the proposed modifications for the 2014-2020 period.
The other main highlight is an exclusive interview with former President of the European Commission Jaques Delors, who offers his perspective on the current financial crisis, as well as the history and development of Cohesion policy, and his vision of the future for investment in Europe's regions.
Elsewhere the priorities of the current Cypriot presidency of the EU are revealed, as they relate to regional policy. Adonis Constantinides, Coordinator for the Multiannual Financial Framework and Chair of the Structural Actions Working Party, underlines the need for solidarity and social cohesion, and names the Multiannual Financial Framework negotiations as their top priority.
There is also a preview of October's Open Days event, and the 27 finalists for RegioStars 2013 are announced.
This, and much, much more can be found inside Panorama 43, currently available in English, French and German. Other language versions will follow soon.
Project of the Week : "TROLLEY" - Seven cities to promote trolleybuses as solution for smart urban mobility in Europe
Today is European Cooperation Day. As one of the many projects in the field of territorial cooperation supported by the EU, the Central Europe project "TROLLEY" is one consortium of 7 European cities: Salzburg in Austria, Gdynia in Poland, Leipzig and Eberswalde in Germany, Brno in Czech Republic, Szeged in Hungary and Parma in Italy.
What is at stake?
The "TROLLEY" project, which benefits from an EU financing of EUR 3.3 million for the period 2007-2013, covers 25% of all trolleybuses as well as 30% of all trolleybus lines that are currently operating in whole Central Europe.
The project pursues two aims: firstly, the promotion of the trolleybus system towards the 1.5 million citizens in the project partner cities as a sustainable, safe and economic urban transport solution as well as towards all European cities. The second goal of the project is to invest in innovative technologies to modernize the existing trolleybus systems of the project partner cities and therefore make energy saving and use the energy generated by the trolleybuses more efficiently.
What are the results?
Thanks to a renaissance of the trolleybus accompanied by a Europe-wide promotion campaign, the cities Verona (Italy) and Leeds (United Kingdom) have decided to put in place one trolleybus transport system. The German cities Osnabrück and Bremerhaven are seriously thinking of it.
As regards energy savings and efficiency, the advantages of using trolley busses systems are obvious: 25% of the energy can be saved by trolleybuses through recuperation. With the introduction of new energy storage systems like "supercapacitors" in Parma, trolleybuses are able to ride with their own recuperated energy and are therefore self-sufficient. In the city of Eberswalde, 97% of CO2 emissions can potentially be reduced by operating Europe’s first Trolley-Battery-Hybrid-Bus compared to conventional diesel buses.
Finally, the "TROLLEY" project contributes to make clear over Europe that trolley buses are a stand-alone, future-oriented and modern public transport system.
Dr. Heinz Schaden, Mayor of the City of Salzburg, states about the project:
"Salzburg runs its trolleybus transport system by using solely energy from hydro power. This is the most environmentally friendly option to offer public urban transport to citizens. Over the past years, the City of Salzburg has invested a lot in this citizen- and urban-friendly system, especially in the framework of the EU co-financed TROLLEY project, in order to increase the quality of life in the city. The actions taken in cooperation with six other European cities to promote trolleybuses are very useful to make this mean of transport more popular all over Europe.”
- Central Europe Programme (EU financed cooperation programme for Central Europe)
- Salzburg AG (Lead partner of the project)
- Rupprecht Consult (Project Implementer)
- University of Gdansk (Research partner of the project)
- trolley:motion (Communication partner of the project)
A new high level seminar on State aid has been added to the programme of OPEN DAYS 2012. In order to allow participants more chance to participate, the registration to OPEN DAYS in general has been prolonged until next Thursday, 27 September. Don´t miss the opportunity to get places at the seminars that are not fully booked yet! Register via the link: http://ec.europa.eu/regional_policy/conferences/od2012/reg_frame.cfm
In the framework of the EU-China Mayors' Forum and the EU-China regional policy dialogue launched in 2006 between the Regional Policy DG and the Chinese National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), the Regional Policy DG, the Committee of the Regions and Eurocities organised the thematic seminar "Governing sustainable urban development: Experiences from China and the EU", last 19 September.
During the seminar, high-level officials of Huai'an, Birmingham, Espoo and Hamburg, practitioners and academics presented to a large audience (more than 100 participants) a number of case studies from cities on how to bring new forms of governance to respond to current urban challenges.
As underlined by representatives from China Center for Urban Development and Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, at present, Chinese cities are in a new stage of accelerated and overall transformation and are looking to European cities experiences on topics like urban-rural cooperation, development of small and medium-size cities, regional innovation eco-systems, low-carbon and eco-building technologies.
The event was part of the EU-China Mayors’ Forum, held on 19 and 20 September 2012 in Brussels. This Forum is the first annual flagship event of the EU-China Urbanisation Partnership. It got together EU and Chinese Mayors, local decision-makers, city planners, business and NGOs willing to share experience in moving towards sustainable, integrated and efficient solutions.
Presentations can be found at: http://cor.europa.eu/en/news/events/Pages/EU-China-Mayors.aspx
The Regional Development Committee of the European Parliament published recently a study entitled 'Public Procurement and Cohesion Policy'.
This study explores the connection between two major areas of public interest: Public Procurement and Cohesion Policy, starting with an explanation of how and where procurement is applied in the context of Cohesion Policy, then analysing the current situation in the EU, the transposition of procurement regulations into national law and the ongoing reform of the legal framework. The significance of procurement in the EU Cohesion Policy is the main focus of the study. Examples of representative practical experience are used to complement the information gained by desk research. A series of interviews with practitioners in Cohesion Policy has facilitated the development of a number of recommendations of the study.
The study is available on line in English, translations will be available in French and German.
EU Solidarity Fund: Commission proposes a record €670 million for Emilia Romagna (Italy) following devastating earthquakes
EU Solidarity Fund: Commission proposes a record €670 million for Emilia Romagna (Italy) following devastating earthquakes
The European Commissioner for Regional Policy, Johannes Hahn has announced the Commission's proposal to allocate EUR 670 million to Italy following two severe consecutive earthquakes and hundreds of aftershocks in the region of Emilia-Romagna during May/June 2012, spreading out into the neighbouring regions of Veneto and Lombardy. The aim of the support, - the highest ever amount allocated from the European Union Solidarity Fund (EUSF), is to cover the huge costs of repairing essential infrastructure , providing shelter and rescue services. as well as protecting the cultural heritage of the region.
Celebrating the achievements of European regions and countries working together across borders. That is what is behind European Cooperation Day, which for the first time will be marked on the same day across Europe, both in EU Member States and neighbouring countries.
Speaking from the European Parliament in Brussels to launch more than 200 events in 40 countries, the EU's Commissioner for Regional Policy Johannes Hahn said:
"Territorial cooperation projects help build trust. They foster mutual understanding. They are essential ingredients of European integration. They bring communities together – this is the European Union in action".
Regions and cities from different EU Member States are encouraged to work together and learn from each other through joint programmes, projects and networks. Citizens living outside the EU's external borders are also benefiting from a policy whose goal is to help tackle the issues of border regions by promoting better networks and common action.
The initiative is coordinated by the INTERACT programme in association with the European Commission (DG REGIO, EuropeAid and European External Action Service), and supported by the Committee of the Regions and the European Parliament.
Support for a cutting edge research facility that will involve 40 research and academic institutions from 13 member states was today approved by the European Commission.
The financial contribution from the EU would come from the Structural Funds with an investment of almost EUR 180 million. It is part of a wider initiative with the Czech Republic and Hungary to make up a European research consortium pioneering the use of state- of- the art laser technology.
The part of the project approved today will be established in Romania. Known as "Extreme Light Infrastructure – Nuclear Physics", ELI-NP will serve as a pan European laboratory hosting a broad range of scientific disciplines from ground breaking fundamental physics, to new nuclear physics and astrophysics as well as material science and life sciences. Researchers will also be working on new ways to handle nuclear materials and radioactive waste.
This is a so-called "major project", of which the total public funding is above €50 million and thus subject to a specific decision by the European Commission, whereas other types of projects are approved at national or regional levels.
The Directorate General for Regional Policy sponsors a seminar in Kiev to promote regional policy dialogue
Director Ronnie Hall, who is responsible for Information, Communication, Relations with non-EU countries, the Coordination of the Outermost Regions and legal questions, was in Kiev on Monday 10 September, as part of the on-going dialogue on regional policy. This dialogue was set up under the terms of a Memorandum of Understanding signed in 2009. After meeting the Minister for Regional Development, Construction and Municipal Economy Anatoliy Blyznyuk, he spoke at a seminar jointly organised by the Commission and the Ministry. He described the Commission's current regional policy objectives and its plans for the future while the Ministry outlined local government reforms and the introduction of a state regional development fund. In addition the 50 participants heard about the drafting of the OECD Territorial Review, to be published early next year, and the reality of multi-level governance in the Polish voivodship of Swietokrzyskie.
Do you own a smartphone or other mobile device?
If so, don't forget to download the mobile application that has been developed for the 2012 OPEN DAYS. The app offers the following great features:
- Find out what is happening where and when
- See the event venues on an interactive map and get directions
- Get involved in online discussions, and find out what people are sharing about the OPEN DAYS on Twitter, Facebook and Flickr
- Make sure you don't miss out on practical information, including real time announcements during the event
- Receive alerts reminding you when the events you are attending will start
Project of the Week: One-stop online business registration system to make Poland's entrepreneurs' life easier
The "Central Registration and Information on Economic Activity" (CEIDG) system has been launched by the Ministry of Economy of Poland in July 2011. It is an online one-stop-shop for Polish entrepreneurs for registration, updating and finding information about other businesses.
The project "CEIDG", which benefited from an EU financing of EUR 5,8 million for the period 2007-2013, aims at building a centralised database of business activities in Poland and registering online business activities. While reducing the time needed for business registration, the new service also permits electronic exchange of relevant data between all the institutions involved in the process of registration.
How does it work?
Using a trusted electronic profile or an electronic signature, a citizen can go online to complete the formalities needed for business registration in Poland. After creating an account on the official website, the entrepreneur then only has to follow the step-by-step wizard to fill in the required information and register his new business. If desired the entrepreneur can just prepare his application on the website and visit a municipal office to sign in person.
Clicking the button to submit the CEIDG form triggers registration with the national tax office, the central statistical office and the social insurance department. This means
that the entrepreneur is automatically applying for both the taxation and statistical registration numbers. The new business registration is published within 48 hours on the national website but business can be started immediately after application confirmation.
Once registered in CEIDG, the entrepreneurs can go online to change their registry entries, temporarily suspend activity and even close the business, without having to visit any government offices.
What are the results?
The system is now running at a rate of more than 20 000 transactions a day. By now, entrepreneurs have made 3 million entries into the CEIDG.
CEIDG is an element of the Polish Single Point of Contact Network.The project has been extended to cover with services all other procedures connected with business activity in Poland.
Mr Sebastian Christow from the Electronic Economy Department in the Polish Ministry of Economy responsible for the implementation of the project states:
"The CEIDG system is a very unique solution coordinating all authorities involved in the business registration process in Poland. This portal facilitates business creation for both entrepreneurs from Poland and abroad. It doesn’t only offer information and services for business establishment, it also offers the possibility to look for other firms and enables cooperation between companies. Given that this project has been financed to 85% by the EU, EU funding was a great help to put this service in place".
Two guidance documents of interest for both Managing Authorities and the evaluation community were published on Inforegio this summer:
- Monitoring and Evaluation of European Cohesion Policy - Guidance document on ex-ante evaluation: The first on ex ante evaluation, available in English, French and German, aims to improve the design of the 2014-2020 operational programmes thus supporting a stronger result orientation of Cohesion policy.
- Evaluation of Innovation Activities - Guidance on methods and practices: The second provides advice on how to evaluate ERDF supported innovation activities. It is available in English, French, German, Polish and Spanish.
- Monitoring and Evaluation of European Cohesion Policy - Guidance document on ex-ante evaluation: The first on ex ante evaluation, available in English, French and German, aims to improve the design of the 2014-2020 operational programmes thus supporting a stronger result orientation of Cohesion policy.
Commissioner Hahn attends annual Conference of Presidents of the EU's Outermost Regions in the Azores (Portugal)
The European Commissioner for Regional Policy, Johannes Hahn, will attend the 18th Conference of Presidents of the EU's Outermost Regions, hosted by Carlos Cesar, President of the Regional Government of Azores, and current chair of the group of eight outermost regions (Guadeloupe, French Guiana, Réunion, Martinique, the overseas Collectivity of St Martin, the Azores, Madeira and the Canary Islands). The governments of Spain, Portugal and France will be represented at the conference, as well as the Cyprus Presidency of the EU. Mayotte, which will gain outermost region status in 2014 and the Prime Minister of Cape Verde will also participate..
Commissioner Hahn will embark on a 3-day tour of the islands of the Azores (starting in Sao Miguel and continuing to Faial, Pico, Flores and Corvo), visiting projects co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), such as:
The Escola de Formação Turística e Hoteleira on Sao Miguel - School of Tourism and Hospitality Training (EFTH), Pico Vermelho Geothermal Plant (Sao Miguel Island, Ribeira Grande) and Corvo island's Air Traffic Control Tower.
All ten case study reports are already online in INFOREGIO. The final report with overall conclusions, lessons learnt and recommendations will be available soon.
The investment projects analysed were completed 15 – 20 years ago. They are in the transport (road, rail, seaports) and environment (water supply, waste water treatment, waste management) sectors, across five Member States: Port of Gioia Tauro (Italy); M1 Motorway (Ireland); Egnatia Motorway (Greece); Madrid Metro Line giving access to the Barajas airport (Spain); Mediterranean Corridor (Spain); Water supply in the city of Palermo (Italy); Urban solid waste treatment in Northern Lisbon (Portugal); Solid waste treatment in Galicia (Spain); Waste water treatment in Ría de Vigo (Spain); Dublin waste water treatment (Ireland).
This evaluation addresses the following Evaluation Questions:
- “What” (What long-term effects do these projects bring about?): On average, the cases under review point at uncontroversial direct contributions to economic growth and quality of life, while the strength of each type of effect can differ by sector (transport or environment) or project.
- “When” (When do long-term effects materialise and stabilise?): Overall, the majority of effects detected appear to have already stabilised.
- “How” (How do long-term effects materialise?): Determinant factors of project outcomes such as appropriateness to the context and managerial response generally positively contributed to the projects, regardless of the sector of intervention; another factor had an on-average negative effect (project governance). The infrastructural sector matters in particular as far as project design is concerned, with positive scores recorded on average for transport projects and negative scores for environmental ones.
European Cooperation Day will be celebrated across the EU and in neighbouring countries for the first time this year. With over 80% of all European Territorial Cooperation programmes on board, more than 160 local events will take place across Europe on 21 September and throughout that week. The wide variety of events includes cross-border races, children’s theatre, photography contests, nature hikes, project showcases, and so much more.
The aim of the campaign, which carries the slogan “Sharing borders, growing closer,” is to celebrate the achievements of cooperation between European regions and countries. Since the beginning of the 1990s, more than 20,000 projects, co-funded by the EU, have contributed to improving the lives of European citizens across borders, from creating jobs to protecting the environment to improving health care services, transport and energy.
EU Commissioner for Regional Policy, Johannes Hahn, will be playing an active role in the celebrations. On 18 September, he will take part in a launch event at the European Parliament in Brussels. He will also travel to Vienna on 21 September to participate in local events and meet people who are taking part in several transnational and cross-border programmes.
The European Cooperation Day campaign is coordinated by the INTERACT Programme in association with the European Commission, and supported by the Committee of the Regions and the European Parliament.
- European Territorial Cooperation
- European Cooperation Day website
- European Cooperation Day on Facebook and Twitter
Ask President Barroso about the state of the Union – he will answer in a live interview on 19 September
Where do we stand and how will the European Union emerge from the economic crisis? These are just two of a number of questions the President of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso, will address when he gives the 2012 State of the Union Address at the European Parliament in Strasbourg on 12 September at 09.00 CET.
President Barroso will give a candid and clear assessment of the situation facing Europe and how he believes Europe should move forward over the coming years. His speech can be followed live at http://ec.europa.eu/avservices/ebs/schedule.cfm.
On 19 September at 19:00 CET, President Barroso will answer citizens' questions on the State of the Union in a live interview hosted by Euronews, using Google+ Hangout video technology.
Between 7 September and 18 September at midday CET, people are invited to submit video or text questions for him to answer. Questions can be submitted – and voted on – via EUtube, the European Commission's YouTube channel. From amongst the top voted video questions, Euronews will select several participants to put their questions to the President in person, live, via Google+ Hangout.
The interview will be broadcast live on the Euronews network and website, on EUtube, on the Commission’s Google+ page, on Europe by Satellite and the President's website The livestream of the interview on EUtube will be freely embeddable in any website.
Euronews will be featuring the ERDF co financed Greek project "Corallia" in its "Business Planet" magazine, which presents successful entrepreneurs whose business was supported by EU funding.
The programme will be broadcast live every day on Euronews for two weeks from Saturday 8 September 6.15 CET. The Business Planet magazine on Corallia can also be seen online as from this Friday 7 September.
The Corallia Clusters Initiative connects representatives of industry, suppliers, buyers, researchers, infrastructure providers, financial institutions, public sector organisations and the media. The sectors covered include nano-microelectronics, space industries and gaming technologies. It has received since 2006 around EUR 40 million EU support from the ERDF.
ESPON Workshop "Innovation & Knowledge - Territorial dimensions for future EU Cohesion Policy", Brussels 5 October 2012
ESPON, the European Spatial Planning Observation Network is organising an 'Innovation & Knowledge' workshop on 5th October 2012, which will take a closer look at regional innovation and smart specialisation strategies that can contribute to meeting the EU's agreed goal of smart growth. The Europe2020 Strategy calls on Member States to invest 3% of their GDP in Research & Development, in order to reach the smart targets set. ESPON's Innovation & Knowledge workshop will look at the progress made thus far, and consider action still needed, while also providing information on the territorial dimension of innovation and knowledge and its implications for the elaboration of future Structural Funds programmes.
Policymakers and practitioners are invited to register before 27 September 2012 at 15h00
ESPON will also host two workshops at the 10th edition of Open Days – European Week of Regions & cities in Brussels (8-11th October). Register now.
Online registration for the OPEN DAYS 2012 European Week of Regions and Cities gets underway today. Participation is free, with 106 specialist seminars to choose from 08-11 October. Registering for an event could not be simpler: the official website, includes details of all the seminars and workshops, speakers, dates and venues, as well as a step-by-step guide on how to apply.
European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso is travelling to Sofia, Bulgaria to participate in the official opening of the new ‘Obelya - Lozenets’ section of the capital's Metro on Friday. The project received EUR 200 million from the Cohesion Fund, with a further EUR 50 million from the European Regional Development Fund and serves as a good example of integrated and sustainable transport, connecting all modes of transport, connecting trains, trams, busses and as of 2014, the city's airport. The project also brought economic benefits to older Member States, including France, as the French company SYSTRA was involved in the construction of the line. President Barroso will also meet with Bulgarian Prime Minister, Boyko Borisov, holding a joint press-conference.
EU-China Mayors' Forum: "Governing sustainable urban development: Experiences from China and the EU"
In the framework of the EU-China Mayors' Forum, the Regional Policy DG, the Committee of the Regions and Eurocities will organise the thematic seminar "Governing sustainable urban development: Experiences from China and the EU", scheduled on Wednesday 19 September 2012 (14:30-17:30, Jacques Delors Building, Belliardstraat 101, 1040 Brussels).
During this seminar, high-level officials of city administrations, practitioners and academics will present a number of case studies from cities on how to bring about effective governance to sustainable urban development policies and projects. Presentations will be followed by a debate with the audience.
The event is a part of the EU-China Mayors’ Forum, to be held on 19 and 20 September 2012 in Brussels with the participation of Prime Minister Wen and Commission President Barroso. This Forum is the first annual flagship event of the EU-China Urbanisation Partnership. It will get together EU and Chinese Mayors, local decision-makers, city planners, business and NGOs willing to share experience in moving towards sustainable, integrated and efficient solutions.
To register for this event (deadline 10 September, eob), please visit the following web site: http://www.euchinamayorsforum.eu/registration.html and use the login EUChinaBrussels. You will receive a final confirmation via e-mail shortly after registering.
Roma Integration Conference "A Way Out - and a Possible Way Forward Social Microcredit, Financial Inclusion and Self-Employment"
On 4 September the European Commission's Directorate-General for Regional Policy is organising the closing conference of the Kiutprogramme – a Hungarian initiative to support Roma and Sinti to work within the legal economy by starting up a business. The Closing conference entitled 'A Way Out - and a Possible Way Forward Social Microcredit, Financial Inclusion and Self-Employment' is organised jointly with the World Bank and the Polgár Foundation for Equal Opportunities.
The objective of the event is to present the Kiutprogramme experience in the field of social micro-finance services to enhance the self-employment opportunities of Roma. Policy recommendations will also be discussed and the report on "Financial inclusion", recently concluded by the World Bank, will be presented.
The event will take place in Brussels, on 4 September 2012 (Tuesday), from 8:45 am until .5:15 pm, at Novotel Brussels Centre Tour Noir, Rue de la Vierge Noire 32, 1000 Brussels.
The European Commission's search for the most innovative projects which have received investment from EU Cohesion Policy continues into 2013.
Commission unveils 2013 RegioStars finalists
The Commission has announced the finalists for the 2013 RegioStars Awards. The 2013 RegioStars Jury under the Chairmanship of Luc Van den Brande has chosen 27 finalists from the 149 nominations received. The 27 projects highlight the excellent and innovative work being done on the ground and represent a good geographical spread across the Union.
The European Commission has adopted a decision to reallocate EUR 10 Million of the European Regional Development Fund Programme for Emilia-Romagna, in a bid to speed up economic recovery in the aftermath of two earthquakes which hit the region in May. The earthquake caused considerable damage to the social infrastructure, cultural heritage and economic fabric of the region, with an estimated cost of EUR 9.8 billion. The locations worst hit are among the most productive and competitive areas in Italy accounting for 2% of national GDP.
Would you like to win up to €1,000 worth of digital camera equipment, plus a trip for two to Brussels? Take part in the 'Europe in my Region' photo competition this summer!
The competition will be hosted on the European Commission’s Facebook page. Participants will be invited to enter photos in two categories:
- 'My Project', open to organisations that have benefited from EU regional funding (ie from the European Regional Development Fund or the Cohesion Fund)
- 'Eyewitness', open to anyone living in the EU who spots a project either in their region or when visiting another region.
To take part, all participants need to do is take a photo of a project which includes evidence of EU regional funding (e.g. featuring a billboard, signpost, plaque, etc., with the EU flag and funding information in the pictures). Two winners will then be selected in each category; one by popular vote and one by jury from a selection of the most popular remaining entries. Photos will be judged on their aesthetic quality, creativity and relevance to EU regional policy.
Help us to share the news about the competition and show off some of the great projects around Europe receiving regional funding. Follow @EU_Regional on Twitter and the EC Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/EuropeanCommission) for more news soon. And finally, whether you’re at home or abroad, don’t forget to keep your eye out for projects and your camera at the ready!
Following the adoption of CoR Opinion on the Role of LRAs in achieving the objectives of the Europe 2020 Strategy, the Committee of the Regions decided to produce a "Handbook on the Europe 2020 strategy for cities and regions". The document, drawn up in collaboration with the Commission, aims to provide clear explanations on how local and regional authorities can contribute to the implementation of the strategy. It capitalises on examples of good practices collected through the surveys conducted by the CoR's Europe 2020 Monitoring Platform or existing databases of good practices managed by the European Commission. It gives a non-exhaustive picture of existing and accessible information, good practices, sources of financing and other policy instruments related to the Europe 2020 Strategy. The handbook is not intended as a guide on how to implement the Europe 2020 Strategy, but to inform and support local and regional authorities in their implementation of the Strategy.
A study "Measuring the impact of changing regulatory requirements to administrative cost and administrative burden of managing EU Structural Funds (ERDF and the Cohesion Fund)" commissioned by DG Regional Policy shows that there is considerable scope for reduction of administrative burden for beneficiaries under the Commission proposals for 2014-2020. A reduction of 20% compared to the period 2007-2013 could be expected by implementing the simplifications proposed by the Commission.
For beneficiaries, the key simplifications are a shift to electronic submission of documents (e-cohesion), simplified eligibility rules and harmonisation of rules for different EU funds to reduce the complexity of day-to-day project management. The Study finds that Member States and regions can also cut administrative costs by focusing EU funding on limited areas and by reducing layers of management and control.
Exiting the crisis, partnership in action, awarding innovation and much more in this season's Panorama magazine
The summer 2012 edition of Panorama magazine entitled "Partnership in cohesion policy'" is now online. It puts the overarching principle of the joint management of Structural Funds under the spotlight, with a 4‑page feature on the combined efforts of stakeholders in planning, implementing and evaluating the policy. Partnership is seen as the most effective way to harness and integrate the expertise of actors at local, regional and national level, and to ensure the most efficient use of EU resources. A closer look is taken at the recently published European Code of Conduct on Partnership, intended as a guide for Member States in the design of partnership agreements for 2014-2020.
The edition also analyses in-depth the efforts of Structural Funds in the EU recovery from the economic crisis. Key policy interventions and measures taken in recent years are assessed, such as the topping-up of co-financing rates for countries receiving macro-economic assistance, the reprogramming of Structural Funds in certain Member States and the 'Youth on the Move' initiative in countries with particularly elevated levels of youth unemployment.
The winners of the 2012 RegioStars Awards for innovation are introduced, including 2 transnational cooperation initiatives and projects from Sweden, Poland and Austria.
This, and much, much more is piled into Panorama 42, currently available in English, French and German. Other language versions will come soon.
By launching aSmartCitiesand Communities European Innovation Partnership (SCC), the European Commission aims to boost the development of smart technologies in cities. The objective is to pool research resources from energy, transport and Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) and concentrating them on a small number of demonstration projects which will be implemented in partnership with cities. For 2013 alone, € 365 million in EU funds have been earmarked for the demonstration of these types of urban technology solutions.
This initiative will contribute to the wider EU urban agenda, at the core of the future cohesion policy after 2013.
This Working Paper presents novel data on the ‘quality of government’ (QoG) – understood as low corruption and as high protection of the rule of law, government effectiveness and accountability – at both national and regional levels in the 27 EU Member States. First, the Paper assesses the existing national-level data on QoG for EU Member States, pointing out the three significantly different clusters of states that emerge, namely high-, medium- and low-QoG countries. Secondly, the Paper presents original sub-national-level data for 172 EU regions, based on a survey of 34 000 residents across 18 countries. The two measures are then combined into the ‘EU QoG Index’ (EQI), which shows notable cross-regional variations: whilst highperforming regions inItalyandSpain(e.g.Bolzanoand Pais Vasco) rank amongst the best EU regions, other regions in the same countries perform below the EU average.
In addition, the Paper uses the new data to test five basic existing hypotheses on why some polities have more QoG than others. This shows that the EQI is highly correlated with regional indicators of socio-economic development and levels of social trust, yet is statistically unrelated to variables such as population or area size. Finally, the data also indicates that political decentralisation is not consistently linked with greater variation in QoG within the country or higher levels of QoG.
Project of the Week: "New Knowledge" to link research findings with local people's needs in the Epirus region
The Region of Epirus in Greece launched in November2011 a project called "New Knowledge" which aims at strengthening regional competitiveness and economic development through technological innovation research in areas of particular interest for the region.
The project "New Knowledge" which benefits from an EU financing of around EUR 2 million for the period 2007-2013, promotes research and development results produced by regional research entities in order to provide the productive sector and the local society with concrete solutions out of these research findings. To do so, particular attention is paid to the cooperation between the research entities, to networking between research entities and the productive sector and to develop readiness from researchers' side to focus their research activities on the needs of local enterprises and society.
Proposals submitted by regional research entities which can prove that their research findings can be used by local enterprises or another local private or public entity can be funded. The thematic areas of research are information and communications technology, agriculture, fisheries, livestock, food biotechnology, environment, energy, water resources, transport, health or cultural heritage. The maximum budget amounts to EUR 150,000 per proposal.
To date, 27 varied projects have been funded, like for example a new quality control for traditional silversmith craftsmanship in order to promote better this local art, the determination of the authenticity of the botanical and geographical origin of food products to achieve a possible Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) or Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) and give them a significant added value, and a research project on an innovative treatment of ligament rupture based on stem cells and tissue engineering.
Dr. Theodore Fotsis, Group Leader and Director of the Biomedical Research Institute, responsible for the project "Treatment of Anterior Cruciate Ligament Rupture: Regeneration with the aid of Stem Cells and Tissue Engineering" outlines the added value of the programme:
"The region of Epirus belongs to the less developed areas in Greece exhibiting high unemployment rates. As a consequence the graduates of the University of Ioannina have no alternative than to move to other regions of Greece or even emigrate abroad. The project New Knowledge with its many well targeted smaller research projects shows the value-added that research interventions supported by the European Union can produce for the development and the cohesion of our region. It also provides better opportunities for employment to young scientists from the region and in the long term it might attract investments from companies looking for cooperation with our research entities".
- Biomedical Research Institute (Beneficiary)
- University of Ioannina (Beneficiary)
- Epirus Institute of Technology (Beneficiary)
As part of the events surrounding the 20th anniversary of the Single Market and in particular the Single Market Week, the European Commission is running a competition for 20-year olds entitled “Generation1992”, from April to September 2012. Besides creating awareness on the European single market among young Europeans, the aim of the competition is to encourage refl ection and discussion on the role of the single market in young people’s daily lives.
For the first time, European Cooperation Day will be celebrated this year on 21 September 2012.
The event is intended to recognise how European Territorial Cooperation helps to bring Europeans closer together, share ideas across borders and find solutions to common problems.
More than 69 European Territorial Cooperation Programmes and external cooperation programmes (Instrument for Pre-Accession and the European Neighbourhood Partnership Instrument) will be participating in the European Cooperation Day.
Local events will be taking place across Europe during the week of 17-23 September. Visit the European Cooperation Day website for more information and to find an event near you.
You can also:
On 28th and 29th June, EU leaders will come together at the European Council in Brussels to agree on a comprehensive package of measures to boost growth and jobs in the European Union. The EU's budget for the next 7 years (Multiannual Financial Framework) and European economic governance will also be on the table for discussion. Cohesion Policy will be under the spotlight too, as negotiations on the legislative package for 2014-2020 progress, and an ambitious, result-oriented cohesion policy - concentrated around the areas of the Europe 2020 Strategy, is recognised as crucial for Europe's growth.
For more information, visit the Danish Presidency's site here and see: European Commission: building blocks towards economic growth
The second European Forum of the Outermost Regions (OR) will be held in Brusselson 2 and 3 July and will give centre stage to the eight regions eligible for this specific status in the EU. This event will provide a forum for debate involving the principle players in the ORs, their MemberStates(France, Spainand Portugal) and EU institutions. The renewed strategy recently proposed by the European Commission for these regions will offer a basis for discussion.
Building on the first Forum held in 2010, the aim of this biennial Forum is to raise the profile of the ORs withinEuropeby highlighting their strengths and potential. Eight European Union regions currently enjoy OR status as defined by Article 349 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU): the Azores, Madeira, the Canary Islands, Guadeloupe, Martinique,French Guiana, Réunion and Saint-Martin.
The event will bring together all the presidents of the outermost regions, the relevant ministers of the threeMemberStates, representatives from the EU institutions (mainly Members of the European Parliament), NGOs and universities, as well as socio-professionals and private investors. Almost 400 participants are expected.
Danube Strategy: Commissioner Johannes Hahn visits Danube region from 27 June to 1 July to take stock of progress
One year after the launch of the Danube Strategy, Commissioner for Regional Policy, Johannes Hahn is making a tour of the region to meet those who are putting the plan into action. He will discuss how to accelerate implementation of the Strategy which can be an important instrument in creating jobs and growth. The trip is also an opportunity for him to see at first-hand the progress being made through macro-regional cooperation, and to raise awareness, at political and public level, of the added value of the strategy. During the tour which will comprise seven countries (in chronological order: Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Croatia, Serbia, Romania and Bulgaria) the Commissioner will meet high-level political representatives as well as stakeholders and pay visits to flagship projects. The Danube Day will also be celebrated on 29 June in Belgrade.
Project of the Week: Integrated River Engineering Project on the Danube East of Vienna to improve navigability and protect environment
The Integrated River Engineering Project on the Danube East of Vienna (Project of the Danube East of Vienna) is one of the flagship projects of the EU Strategy for the Danube Region which has been launched by the Commission and 14 countries one year ago in order to boost the development of the Danube Region.
The about 48 km section of the Danube between Vienna and the Austrian-Slovakian national border is the most significant weak point for inland navigation of the West-East transport corridor in Austria. Furthermore, continuous riverbed degradation in this section of the Danube of up to 3.5 cm per year jeopardises the ecological balance of the nearby situated National Park “Donau-Auen”.
In order to remove the bottleneck on the Danube to the East of Vienna for the benefit of navigation, to counteract riverbed degradation and at the same time to give adequate consideration to the ecological requirements in the project area, the Project of the Danube East of Vienna has been conceived as an integrative project which was planned by experts in the fields of environment, navigation and hydro engineering.
Within the Project of the Danube East of Vienna, pilot projects are implemented. It was launched in 2001 and has benefitted so far from more than € 7.6 million EU contribution from Trans-European Transport Network Programme. Another € 21million EU contribution is also committed.
As the project area is surrounded by a national park, a gentle step-by-step approach is necessary. Five pilots have already been completed so far. These pilot projects have field tested innovative measures related to of the reconnection of sidearms, riverbank restoration and new groyne shapes. They have not only significantly increased the technical expertise in the new field of the renaturation of large rivers, but also improved the ecological situation in the National Park Donau-Auen. For instance the Pilot Project Thurnhaufen, realised in close cooperation with the National Park, was the first complete removal of a hard river bank protection on a large river. This achievement was honoured by the EU with the EU Best LIFE Nature Award.
In the beginning of 2012 the Pilot Project Bad Deutsch-Altenburg has started. In a 3 km long river stretch, all measures foreseen for the Danube East of Vienna will be implemented together for the first time.
Hans-Peter Hasenbichler, General Manager of via donau, the company responsible for the implementation of the project, says:
“With the implementation of the Integrated River Engineering Project East of Vienna, Austria with help of the European Union makes its contribution to international efforts to create economically efficient fairway conditions on the Danube and to promote the Danube waterway as a European axis of transport.
With this project we can prove that it is possible to enhance the conditions for inland waterway transport and environmental conditions at the same time. Our integrative approach and the stakeholder integration might become a model for similar projects along the Danube and other European rivers.”
Via donau – österreichische Wasserstrassen-Gesellschaft mbH (project implementer)
Austrian Ministry of Transport, Innovation and Technology (managing authority)
The first bi-annual meeting of 2012 between the Commission's Directorate-General for Regional Policy (DG REGIO) and representatives from regional offices in Brussels takes place on 25 June. EU Commissioner for Regional Policy, Johannes Hahn, will present the state of play of negotiations on the legislative package for the future cohesion policy for 2014-2020. This will be followed by an open floor discussion. Registration for this event has now closed but you can follow the meeting live from 14h30 to 16h30 in English, French and German.
The Regional Studies Association is currently looking for submissions of academic abstracts for its one-day winter conference in London (UK) on Friday, 23rd November. The conference will act as a forum for discussion and debate on recent developments and trends in the field and the key areas for further research. It will look at the subject of the deepening territorial inequalities in the backdrop of the current economic crisis and the scope for public intervention; as well as touching on questions such as: How will classic forms of urban and regional development policy be affected? Will the current crises expose the failures of these policies or demonstrate their strengths? And, what alternative models of territorial development exist?
Contributions are invited which focus on one or more of the following themes:
- The Uneven Spatial Impacts of Economic Crisis and Austerity
- Responding to Austerity: Renewing Models of Territorial Development
- Managing Decline and Peripherality: Shrinking Cities, Transition Towns and Other Approaches
- Creative Cities/Regions in the Age of Austerity
- Implementing Smart Growth Principles in the Age of Austerity
- Models of Devolution and Decentralization: Where Next?
Johannes Hahn, European Commissioner for Regional Policy, and President of the RegioStars Jury, Luc van den Brande, former President of the Committee of the Regions, have announced the winners of the RegioStars 2012 Awards. The 5th annual edition of the Awards for Europe's most innovative and inspiring projects supported by European Regional Policy attracted a record 107 application, but 5 deserving projects take home the prestigious trophies. Styria in Austria, Malmö in Sweden, Podlaskie in Poland and two European Territorial Cooperation projects, bringing together partners from 9 different Member States, are the clear winners taking centre stage in Europe.
On Friday 15 June, Regional Policy Commissioner Johannes Hahn will open the annual "Regions for Economic Change" conference. The one-day event will gather in Brussels more than 500 representatives from Europe's regions. Under the title "Transforming Regional Economies: The Power of Research and Innovation Strategies for Smart Specialisation", this 5th Regions for Economic Change conference will discuss the challenges, benefits and possible limitations of implementing the smart specialisation conditionality through EU Structural Funds and how to best tailor smart specialisation to different national/regional frameworks and contexts. The morning plenary session (9.30 – 13.00) will be webstreamed.
Project of the Week: 'Rural Transport Solutions' to enhance social inclusion in remote areas of the Northern Periphery
Communities in Finland, Scotland, Sweden and Iceland are cooperating to overcome the limited availability of public transport in areas facing remoteness, low population density and an ageing population with youth out-migration. The 'Rural Transport Solutions' (RTS) project aims to develop innovative and sustainable rural and coastal transport schemes and services to reduce social exclusion of people from sparsely populated areas and to enhance the vitality and sustainability of these areas in Northern Periphery.
The 'RTS' project, which benefited from an EU investment of almost 1 million euro, carries out pilot schemes testing alternative rural transport solutions in order to develop an overall rural transport action model that other regions in the Europe’s Northern Periphery with similar issues can utilise to set up transport solutions of their own.
The Village Bus of Kölsillre in Sweden is one successful pilot of the 'RTS' project (see video). The concept of 'The Village Bus' is that the village residents organise their own public transport by means of a minibus. There are no fixed routes, or departure times. The bus is stationed in the village and mostly drives towards the bigger town of Ånge situated 45 km away. It is free of charge and people can ask the bus to be there at a specific time.The bus also stops to pick up people standing on the road. It is therefore public transport adapted to the population's specific needs.
In 2011, The Village Bus of Kölsillre transported more than 4 100 passengers, which is substantial for a population of only 100 inhabitants. People without a driving licence or access to a car can remain living in these remote areas. Even people owning a car would rather use the bus since for them this is more environmental-friendly and cost effective. The bus also offers opportunities to establish social contacts during the trip. In March of this year, The Village Bus won a competition arranged by the Swedish Public Transport Association for the best solutions in public transport in Sweden.
Karin Gunnarsdotter Eriksson, user of the Village Bus and inhabitant of Kölsillre states:
“The RTS project has not only given us a priceless public transport service. From the international perspective, it has also given us a ticket to a direct participation in the EU now that we feel involved in a project that really makes a big difference for us here in Kölsillre. From a regional perspective, the project has taken the municipality and the county council closer to us. We were, and still are, very much involved in the development of the service and this cooperation will go on even after the project ends."
- Regional Council of North Karelia, Finland (project implementer)
- The Village Bus (pilot project)
- Northern Periphery Programme 2007-2013 (European Territorial Cooperation Programme)
On Thursday evening, 14 June, Johannes Hahn, European Commissioner for Regional Policy, will announce the winners of the RegioStars 2012 Awards. Five of Europe's most innovative and inspiring projects supported by European Regional Policy will go on stage to receive an award in the categories of Smart Growth, Sustainable Growth, Inclusive Growth, CityStars and Information and Communication.
The CoR is preparing an opinion on the Commission's proposal for a Common Strategic Framework, aimed at coordinating the use of the Structural Funds in view of the Europe 2020 and cohesion goals. Therefore a second survey is attached to this message: New common strategic framework 2014 to 2020. Your contribution will feed into Mr Woźniak's draft opinion (final adoption on 9/10 October 2012) and also into the 3rd CoR Monitoring Report on Europe 2020, due to be published in October 2012.
In its judgment of 19 April 2012, the European Court of Justice confirmed the legality of the decision by the Directorate-General for Regional Policy to exclude in 2008 a tenderer from the award phase of the call for tenders for the maintenance and development of Directorate-General for Regional Policy's information systems. The Court found that the work of the Commission was done in accordance with the Financial Regulation and the Implementing Rules. The Court also dismissed the claim of the tenderer for damages and ordered the applicant to pay legal costs.
Project of the week: 'automotive-bw' to enhance cooperation and innovation in the automotive sector in Baden-Wuerttemberg
The automotive sector is one of the backbones for prosperity and growth in Baden-Wuerttemberg, one of Germany's richest regions. Factors like environmental requirements, rising fuel costs, change of mobility needs and growing global competition increase pressure for future development in this sector. To face these challenges and in order to enhance cooperation and innovation in the automotive sector, the State of Baden-Wuerttemberg has reinforced cluster development and smart specialisation by connecting eight local clusters initiatives through an 'umbrella cluster', 'automotive-bw'.
The project 'automotive-bw' has been operational since Mai 2010. A common management structure has been established and local services have been opened to member companies of all local clusters, mainly Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs) but also large companies, suppliers as well as manufacturers. Three long term oriented working groups of technical managers mentored by one representative of a global company and one high level researcher - so-called TecNetGroups- have been created, two more are in preparation. The TecNet platform of ideas, a tailor-made platform for the automotive sector also helps to cooperate on innovation.
'automotive-bw', which benefited from an EU investment of EUR 500.000 EUR, brings together companies from the whole value chain to discuss innovation needs and develop solutions in a systemic approach, which didn't occur before its creation. 'automotive-bw' reduces innovation cycles significantly and enables supplier SMEs to deliver innovative products to manufacturers quicker and better. 16 people work for the 'automotive-bw'. Studies foresee that potential 10.000 jobs in the fields of vehicle manufacturing can be created with help of this umbrella cluster.
Dr. Albrecht Fridrich, CEO RKW Baden-Württemberg GmbH and responsible for the implementation of the project:
“We are overwhelmed by the interest of companies to sign into our TecNet Groups. The trustful and open discussions resulted already in several cooperation agreements between companies. Participants in our TecNet meetings confirmed, that facilitating personal relationships amongst people is the most efficient tool to foster cooperation between companies. Joining forces of our local cluster initiatives is becoming a success story for the automotive sector in Baden-Wurttemberg.”
More information on 'automotive-bw':
- RKW Baden-Württemberg GmbH (project implementer)
- Ministry for Finance and Economy Baden-Wurttemberg (intermediate body)
To help the Committee of the Regions to monitor the implementation of Europe 2020 on the ground, the Europe 2020 Monitoring Platform is launching the attached survey of EU local and regional authorities: Europe 2020: what's happening on the ground? 2012 Edition. The outcome of this survey will feed into the 3rd CoR Monitoring Report on Europe 2020, to be published in October 2012 as a contribution to the European Commission's 2012 Annual Growth Survey.
The European Commission is inviting comments on the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region (EUSBSR).
The EUSBSR was launched in 2009. It aims to make the Baltic Sea Region cleaner, more connected and more prosperous. The Strategy is a pilot initiative where the Macro-regional concept is tried and tested in a specific geographic area. The EUSBSR was followed by the introduction of a Strategy for the Danube Region.
Over the last couple of years, there has been continuous learning in respect of new and improved ways to ensure sustainable implementation. There are both very successful parts, and areas that can be improved.
The main lessons were outlined in the report written by the Commission in June 2011 and in the Communication of March 2012. These assessments have also been discussed in the Council during both the Polish and Danish Presidencies.
The EUSBSR Action Plan is also being reviewed, to be completed by the end of 2012. The most important elements of this review are to introduce objectives, indicators and targets, at Strategy level and for each Priority Area of the Strategy. These should measure the success of the Strategy, but also focus efforts on the most urgent challenges.
There will also be an assessment of the number and content of the Priority Areas, to decide if they could be merged or reinforced. There is a need for greater focus, and to concentrate efforts on actions that respond to the indicators and targets selected. The end result should be a more compact Action Plan, with Flagship Projects and actions in more specific terms to increase impact.
In addition, there is a need to strengthen the capabilities of the key implementers of the Strategy. New and clarified descriptions of roles and expectations have been developed, as well as set out in a handbook with examples.
An overall analysis is currently being prepared by the Priority Area Coordinators and the Horizontal Action leaders. We also need input from other stakeholders for example at the Annual Forum in Copenhagen 17-19 June.
We therefore urge all stakeholders with views on the Action Plan to send us their comments, as well as to take the floor during the discussions at the Forum. There will be a plenary session and a break out session dealing specifically with the review process. Your ideas on focus, on efficiency and on added value would be particularly welcome. For written comments please send them to REGIO-EU-BALTIC-SEA-STRATEGY@ec.europa.eu. This stakeholder consultation on the new Action Plan will remain open until the end of July.
Project of the Week: 'Centre of Polymer Materials and Technologies Otto Wichterle' for research with high innovation potential in Prague
Everywhere we go, we are surrounded by plastic substances and products made from polymer materials. They are indispensable in all economic sectors. Polymer materials represent challenging scientific research with a high innovation potential. The city of Prague saw therefore the necessity to establish a research centre exclusively dedicated to polymer materials, namely the 'Centre of Polymer Materials and Technologies Otto Wichterle'.
The 'Centre of Polymer Materials and Technologies Otto Wichterle', which benefitted from an EU investment of around € 2.5 million, opened its doors in October 2011. Otto Wichterle was a Czech scientist who fifty years ago invented soft contact lenses, which are made of a polymer substance and are still utilised by hundreds of millions of people all over the world.
The 'Centre of Polymer Materials and Technologies Otto Wichterle' focuses on basic research in the field of polymer materials, but it also deals with practical application of research outcomes. It consists of five new laboratories on 950 m² of space, dealing with different aspects of polymer research like for example the development of technologies for recycling polymer materials from the automotive sector, the modification of waste starch for biodegraded plastic substances, which is useable in the sector of agriculture, or the improvement of plastic parts of joint replacements for the sector of medical research.
The positive results achieved by the 'Centre for Polymer Materials and Technologies Otto Wichterle' are already becoming apparent: new scientific devices have been purchased and five new jobs will be created shortly. The Centre also provides professional development and training for young researchers not only from the Czech Republic but from other European countries as well.
Dr. Zbyněk Pientka, the researcher in charge of the implementation of the project, says:
“This project co-financed by the European Union allowed for concentration of research and experimental capacities in the area of polymer materials. The Centre has been successful in interconnecting top basic research with targeted research and development, and in supporting the transfer of findings from basic research to practice. New conditions for the research of polymer materials in the Czech Republic mean benefits in competitiveness and sustainable development for the country. It is important to point out opportunities and advantages of our membership in the European Union at a time when this is under such strong criticism".
Czech Ministry of Regional Development (National Co-ordination Authority)
Capital City of Prague (Managing Authority)
The Digital Agenda for Europe is one of the seven Europe 2020 flagship initiatives. The European Commission has launched a discussion forum with the aim of gathering inspiring examples from this sector. Those involved in regional policy are invited to take part in this debate. Those expressing the most interesting ideas will be invited to take part in the Digital Agenda Assembly on 21-22 June in Brussels. These contributions will be used to carry out a mid-term review of the Digital Agenda for Europe which will be adopted at the end of this year.
The discussion will focus on nine topics: (1) converged media; (2) high-speed Internet; (3) e-commerce; (4) social media; (5) cloud computing; (6) data; (7) security; (8) innovation and entrepreneurs; (9) skills and jobs.
Discussion forum: http://daa.ec.europa.eu/
Registration is now open for the ‘Regions for Economic Change’ conference to be held 15 June in Brussels. This year’s conference is entitled ‘Transforming Regional Economies: The Power of Research and Innovation Strategies for Smart Specialisation’. This 5th 'Regions for Economic Change' conference will discuss the challenges, benefits and possible limitations of implementing the smart specialisation conditionality through EU Structural Funds and how to best tailor smart specialisation to different national/regional frameworks and contexts.
The ‘Regions for Economic Change’ initiative was launched in 2006 and aims to promote the exchange of good practices. It looks to present new approaches to stimulating regional and urban networks by helping them work in close cooperation with the Commission and experiment with innovative ideas.
On 14 June, the Commission will reveal the RegioStars 2012 winners, awarding Europe’s most innovative projects having benefited from European regional policy support.
The objective of the RegioStars Awards is to identify good practices in regional development and to highlight original and innovative projects which could be attractive and inspiring to other regions. For this 5th edition of the Awards, the European Commission has received a record number of 107 applications. An independent Jury will select the winners, who will receive the awards from the European Commissioner for Regional Policy, Johannes Hahn, during a ceremony in Brussels.
The Spring 2012 issue of Panorama magazine, "Targeting Results: fine tuning cohesion policy", featuring an editorial by Commissioner Johannes Hahn, is now online
'Key features of future cohesion policy are a much stronger focus on thematic concentration and the achievement of results'; so says Commissioner for Regional Policy, Johannes Hahn in the current edition of Panorama. The edition therefore examines how these policy changes will work in practice, outlining a series of pilot tests which were run by the European Commission in partnership with 12 managing authorities in eight Member States.
Panorama 41 starts from the premise that In times of economic crisis it is more important than ever that available resources are spent in a way that delivers maximum value for EU citizens, and then it takes a closer look at the sharpened focus on cohesion policy intervention results for the coming period 2014-20 .
We are given an invaluable insight into inter-institutional cohesion policy negotiations in Interviews with European Parliament rapporteurs on the Funds' Common Provisions draft regulation, MEPs Constanze Angela Krehl & Lambert van Nistelrooij.
The magazine also includes special features on innovation in Europe's outermost regions and European Regional Development Fund support for e-Government.
Panorama is currently available in English, French and German. The other language versions will be accessible in the second half of May on the Inforegio website.
The Regional Studies Association will be live streaming the European Conference 2012 Plenary session on Monday 14th May from 9:00 – 11:00 am. Direct from the Aula Conference Centre, Delft University of Technology, Delft, The Netherlands.
Professor Maarten Hajer, "The Energetic Society - or: how to conceive of governance in the 21st century?"
Professor Lisbet Hooghe, Still an Era of Regionalization? A Report on New Data for 81 Countries across the Globe
Professor Joan Fitzgerald, Linking Innovation and Sustainability in Urban Development
Welcome from Bas Verkerk, Multiscalarity, Delft Mayor, Metropolitan governance and the city of Delft
The Commission has set out in general terms the principles by which countries in the European Union must be guided in order to ensure the successful participation of the partners whose involvement in the implementation of European funds is required. This paper contains the elements for a future ‘European Code of Conduct on Partnership’.
These principles relate to the five European funds comprised in the EU’s ‘Common Strategic Framework’: the Cohesion Fund, the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), the European Social Fund (ESF), the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) and the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF).
The partnership principle is one of the key principles for the management of European funds. The partners, i.e. regional and local authorities, the economic and social partners and the many bodies representing civil society, must be actively and closely involved throughout the whole cohesion policy cycle (programme preparation, implementation, monitoring and evaluation).
The Commission is inviting organisations and all interested parties to submit their reactions and proposals. They may send their comments to the following address:
Read the Commission Staff Working Document (available in English only):
The partnership principle in the implementation of the Common Strategic Framework Funds - elements for a European Code of Conduct on Partnership
The project 'Mater Dei Hospital Oncology Centre' in Msida, Malta, will be an extension of the public general Mater Dei hospital. This project is seen as crucial by the public health authorities since statistics show that the cancer survival rate is lower in Malta than in many other European states.
The 'Mater Dei Hospital Oncology Centre' aims directly to improve the population’s cancer survival rates. To this end, the focus of the new centre will be to provide medical care and support during the treatment phase of cancer with special efforts being dedicated to adolescents and patients requiring palliative care.
The project 'Mater Dei Hospital Oncology Centre' was approved as a 'major project' by the European Commission on 10 April 2012 and will be funded under the "Investing in Competitiveness for a Better Quality of Life" EU regional policy programme. The total costs for the project are around EUR 60 million, made up of EU and national contributions combined. The EU contribution amounts to EUR 41,5 million. The project is currently being implemented and should be finalized and operational by the end of 2013.
The 'Mater Dei Hospital Oncology Centre' will replace the existing Sir Paul Boffa Hospital and will be physically and organisationally inter-connected to the Mater Dei Hospital. It will accommodate 96 beds – 74 inpatient beds and 22 day-care beds – and will be divided in 4 functional areas: inpatient areas, outpatient areas, treatment areas including radiotherapy treatment and anaesthesia procedure facilities, as well as spaces for clinical support services like Physiotherapy and Psychology and non-clinical support services.
The project also includes additional investments in environmentally-friendly technologies such as a fresh air ventilation system, photovoltaic panels on the roof as well as rain water collection and collection and the treatment of waste water in order to lower the dependence on fossil fuels and consequently, to achieve a substantial reduction in carbon dioxide emitted in the atmosphere.
Brian St John, Chief Executive Officer of the Foundation for Medical Services and Project Leader for the 'Mater Dei Hospital Oncology Centre', says:
“The patient lies at the centre of everything we do and we will continue to pursue a holistic approach to the provision of cancer treatment propositions in Malta. We remain as committed as ever to bringing a range of benefits to our patients through this new major health infrastructure - a healthcare asset that shall be dedicated to advancing oncology treatment; education, and research. We will continue to work most diligently so that the investment being co-financed by the EU is sensibly realised to the benefit of our patients; and equally to the benefit of our medical professionals. Our medical professionals are exceptionally talented and I believe that this new facility will be a catalyst for the development and furtherance of new and improved methods of working.”
More information related to the Mater Dei Hospital Oncology Centre:
- Planning and priorities coordination department (managing authority) and EU regional policy in Malta
- Foundation for Medical Services (project implementer) within the Ministry for Health, the Elderly and Community Care
- Mater Dei Hospital in Msida, Malta.
The Week of Innovative Regions in Europe – an annual forum bringing together the key players in knowledge- and innovation-based regional development, will this year address the major current issues related to the effective implementation of the 'Innovation Union' at regional level for the period 2014-2020. This year's event (WIRE2012) will be organised in close cooperation with the European Commission and will take place in Krakow, Poland on 4-5 June 2012.
WIRE2012 will uncover the challenges and barriers to regional innovation development, and will elaborate recommendations for policy‑makers, including the effective realisation of the Innovation Union at regional level; it will address three main thematic pillars:
- Innovative regions in the Horizon 2020 will investigate the role of regions in smart specialisation, the role of cities as innovation hubs, and regional innovation ecosystems within Horizon 2020;
- Stairway to Excellence will focus on the future of research and innovation at the regional level, on synergies between Horizon 2020 and the Cohesion Policy, and on smart specialisation in convergence regions and Centres of Excellence;
- Networking for ERA at Regional Level will discuss the European Territorial Cooperation, networks of clusters, European Groupings of Territorial Cooperation, networks of research infrastructure and Multiregional Knowledge Partnerships (e.g. Danube, Baltic)
See www.wire2012.eu for further information, or contact:
National Contact Point for Research Programmes of the EU (NCP Poland)
Ul. Krzywickiego 34, 02-078 Warsaw, Poland
ESPON (the European Observation Network on Territorial Development and Cohesion) has launched Calls for Proposals for Targeted Analysis, Scientific Platform/Tools Projects and Transnational Networking Activities. Scientists and experts representing universities, research institutes, public bodies, private companies from 31 European countries are invited to apply for the Calls. The available budget amounts to 1.988.000,00 €. The deadline for submitting proposals is 13 June 2012.
The European Parliament has just approved a Commission proposal allowing cohesion policy allocations still available to back up guarantees and loans from financial institutions such as the European Investment Bank (EIB). EU funds will be used to create ‘risk-sharing instruments’. This measure is intended to resolve the serious difficulties faced by certain Member States, particularly Greece, in raising the private finance needed to implement major projects that can only be partly financed from public funds. This instrument will encourage investment in the economy and hence job creation.
The project 'Sámi Cultural Centre' in Inari, Lapland(Northern Finland) has been operational since January 2012. It aims to create better opportunities for the Sámi people in Finland to preserve and develop their own language, culture and business activities. It also helps to manage and develop the Sámi cultural self-government and to improve their living conditions.
The Sámi people are the only indigenous people in the European Union whose cultural and linguistic rights are secured in Finland's constitutional legislation, but only inside the Sámi homeland. Taking into account the fact that 65% out of 9000 Finnish Sámi people are living outside of their homeland, the existence of the cultural centre will provide job opportunities and therefore incentives for young and educated Sámi people to return to their region of origin.
The 'Sámi Cultural Centre', which benefitted from an EU investment of EUR 2.6 million, is a multifunctional building which provides the Sámi population with welfare and education services and support for business development. It also offers cultural services like language courses, language studies, events, congresses and fairs to promote the Sámi culture and hosts the Sámi Library and Archives. Moreover, two enterprises were established in its walls: a restaurant and the Sámi handicraft shop.
So far 50 people are working in the 'Sámi Cultural Centre'. The centre is intending to employ 10 more people in the near future.
Mr Juha Guttorm, Executive Director of the Sámi Parliament, and responsible for the implementation of the project, says:
"Sámi Cultural Centre is mainly intended to benefit Sámi people, their culture and language remaining and to support their cultural self-government, but it also benefits other people in the region like culture operators, tourists, event visitors and event organizers. It has therefore a positive impact on the economy in the region and contributes to the creation of growth and jobs. By its virtual studies, beneficiaries are Sámi culture and language students from all around Finland".
More information on the Sami Cultural Centre:
- Regional Council of Lapland (managing authority)
- Sámi Parliament (project implementer)
In 2007, with the agreement of the French Government, the European Commission invited each of France’s 26 regions to adopt a regional innovation strategy. The intention was to increase the effectiveness of European investment in research and development, innovation and business support under Cohesion Policy programmes.
France’s principal management authority (La délégation interministérielle à l’aménagement du territoire et à l’attractivité régionale — DATAR) has recently published an overview of those strategies that are currently being employed on the ground. These ‘diagnoses’ can act as a source of inspiration for other regions of Europe.
The European Commission is encouraging all regions to develop this type of ‘smart specialisation strategy’ under which a region identifies its comparative advantages and the areas in which it can demonstrate its excellence.
The Summary of French regions' regional innovation strategies (available in English and French (as ‘synthèse des stratégies régionales d'innovation des régions françaises’)).
More information on smart specialisation strategies
The Ardèche Drôme Numérique (ADN) project, which benefits from a EU financing of EUR 14 000 000 for a total cost of EUR 123 000 000 EUR for the programming period 2007-2013, stemmed from the need to combat internet access discrimination, particularly in less densely populated areas where profits are lower for service providers. Such areas often have little or no access to internet services or have to pay much higher costs for access.
The ADN project is helping to promote the creation and growth of businesses in the knowledge economy field and supports long-term job creation. Broadband also permits the introduction of new organisational approaches such as teleworking from home, which offers businesses and employees added flexibility and options.
The ADN project is finally making a significant contribution to territorial and social cohesion in the region, providing greater access for those living or working in isolated areas to new services, notably health, culture, education, training, security, public services and social networking.
The ADN project has helped has helped build 2 000 km of fibre optic cable infrastructure allowing 360 000 homes and 96 % of people in the Ardèche and Drôme départements to connect to broadband internet. It also helped 2000 enterprises and 212 areas of economic activities to connect to fibre optic cable infrastructure.
Behind this project is the ADN Joint Syndicate, made up of the Ardèche General Council and the Drôme General Council, with support from the Rhône-Alpes Region and the European Union.
‘Being wired to high speed Internet will make the Ardèche and Drôme départements more attractive for businesses by offering a more innovative and competitive business environment. The new infrastructure provides high-quality Internet services, access to general online services, and better public services for all’. Bernard Soulage, Vice-President Europe and International Relations at the Rhône-Alpes Region’s general delegation in Brussels.
More information on the Ardèche Drôme Numérique (ADN) project:
- Website of the Préfecture of the Région (managing authority)
The 'Reempresa' project, launched in November 2010 in Catalunya (Spain), is a new model of entrepreneurship and business development. It consists of purchasing or leasing the assets of an existing business in order to continue its operations and ensure its growth instead of creating a new company.
'Reempresa', which benefited from an EU investment of €850.000, is a professional tool used as an alternative to the long process of business creation. This is a method by which one or more "re-entrepreneurs" access the property of an existing business through a virtual platform, contributing with their ideas and motivation, but bypassing the stage of creating the company, which could entail lengthy procedures.
Reempresa's aim is to avoid the extinction of a large number of micro enterprises and Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises which cannot continue their activity for various reasons. To achieve this goal, the "re-entrepreneurs" receive guidance from Reempresa to establish a roadmap to complete the transfer, thus promoting the creation of a standard that serves as a reference for all types of business transfers.
Around 95 000 micro enterprises and Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) close every year in the region of Catalunya. This initiative will regenerate the business fabric of the region and will guarantee the continuity of the life cycle of business. This exemplary project may be transferred to other regions with high rate of business disappearance. It is expected that at least 15% will survive thanks to this innovative system in the coming years.
Moreover, this project will ensure the continuity of most of the jobs which probably would be destroyed should the company fail. In 2011, and thanks to Reempresa, 13 'SME's matches' took place and as a result around 145 jobs were preserved. In the first months of 2012, the number of 'SME's matches' is already higher than in the previous year. These figures indicate the success of this project.
Mr. Antoni Gualda is one of the entrepreneurs who recently sold his company through Reempresa:
"I am very happy with Reempresa, because besides the economic value of the transfer of the company I am satisfied for having ensured the continuity of the business to which I have dedicated more than 20 years of my life".
More information on 'Reempresa':
- Cecot (Catalan Employers Association, co-initiator of the project)
- CP'AC (Private Foundation Promoting self-employment in Catalunya, co-initiator of the project)
- Departamento de Economía i Coneixement (Intermediate body).
Produced with the support of the European Commission, a study entitled "Cohesion Policy and Sustainable Development" is now available on this website. The purpose was to examine how Cohesion Policy could contribute to managing the shift to the green economy and to the development of the post-2013 Cohesion Policy framework .
The study assessed the impact of Cohesion Policy investments 2007-2013 on the environment, and the way that sustainable development considerations have been integrated into planning, implementation and follow-up at the strategic, programming and policy level. This was done through a number of case studies, as well as analysis of the available data at EU level, in particular in relation to expenditure. It also made a number of recommendations on how the integration of sustainable development into Cohesion Policy could be improved.
The study was completed in December 2011 by a consortium led by the Institute for European Environmental Policy.
Today, the European Commission has approved funding from the European Regional Development Fund for a major project to restore the area of the UNESCO site of Pompeii, in Campania, Italy. The project 'preservation, maintenance and improvement of the archaeological site of Pompeii' will lead to the investment of 105 million euro of EU and national contributions combined. The objective is to preserve the site as a long term tourism attraction for the region.
EU Commissioner for Regional Policy, Johannes Hahn, in Athens on 21 March, added another element to boost growth by launching a new Guarantee Fund for Small and Medium-Sized enterprises (SMEs) for Greece. This new facility, agreed in cooperation with the European Investment Bank (EIB) will help SMEs which have been worst hit by the crisis to access credit, by providing the banks in Greece with sufficient liquidity. This is another step to assist the country in optimizing the use of EU Structural Funds: some €500 million from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) will guarantee loans with an expected leverage of €1 billion through EIB loans to SMEs. Banks will act as intermediary bodies.
A new guidance document on ex ante evaluation, based on the proposals for regulations adopted by the European Commission on 6 October 2011, underlines the increased role of ex ante evaluation for the 2014-2020 programming period. In the framework of the cohesion policy's new approach strongly oriented towards results, the new regulation increases the importance of well-designed programmes, clearly articulating their intervention logic and demonstrating their contribution to the Europe 2020 strategy. This guidance applies to programmes funded by the ERDF, the ESF and the Cohesion Fund.
"Corallia" Clusters Initiative: Innovation made in Greece
While the debt crisis and austerity measures have been dominating the headlines, the "Corallia" clusters initiative located in Attica and Western Greece shows that there is also goods news to report about Greece.
This project, which has benefited from around EUR 40 million EU support since 2006, aims to boost economic growth, innovation and regional specialisation.
The Corallia Clusters Initiative connects representatives of industry, suppliers, buyers, researchers, infrastructure providers, financial institutions, public sector organisations and the media. The sectors covered include nano-microelectronics, space industries and gaming technologies.
Prof. Vassilisos Makios, General Director of the Corallia Clusters Initiative states:.
“With our work at Corallia, we aim at providing young generations with a vision and inspire them to join us in our efforts to establish “Innovation Made in Greece”. Up to now, we have managed to bridge the Greek microelectronics industry with academic and research institutions, support the establishment of start-ups and strengthen Greece’s regions that demonstrated a strong competitive advance, as in the case of Attica (Athens) and Southern Greece (Patras). Our efforts, fueled by public funds (European Regional Development Fund and national funds), will continue with a focus on entrepreneurship, innovation and on inspiring the youngsters on the joy of creation.”
The results achieved since the creation of the "Corallia" initiative in 2006 are very promising.
The total cluster members grew from 13 at the beginning to 132 ( 68 industrial, 41 academic and 23 others).
The preliminary results of the project in the period 2008-2010 show that the companies belonging to the cluster marked a turnover growth rate of 266%, an employment growth rate of 63% and an export growth rate of 119%.
The investments made by private investors rose by 438%, exceeding €12m with a forecast to double this figure by next year. Patent applications rose by 105%, surpassing 100 applications, with a forecast of a further increase by 60% in 2013 and the cooperation of the academic and research institutions with the industry grew by 228%, surpassing 110, with a forecast of further increase by 40% in 2013.
More information on the "Corallia" Clusters initiative:
- "Corallia" Clusters initiative (website available in 6 languages: Greek, English, French, German, Spanish, Russian)
A live web chat with Johannes Hahn, European Commissioner for Regional Policy, will take place on Monday 26 March from 14.30-15.30h CET (Central European Time).
Commissioner Hahn will answer questions relating to the plans for cohesion policy during the 2014-2020 funding period. The web chat follows on from:
- The legislative proposals for cohesion policy during the period 2014-2020 that were adopted by the Commission on 6 October 2011
- The "Common Strategic Framework", which intends to help Member States and regions in setting clear investment priorities for 2014-2020, that was presented by the Commission on 14 March 2012
The web chat will be hosted on RegioNetwork 2020, an online platform which the European Commission has set up to encourage exchanges and cooperation on EU regional policy. In order to join the web chat, you will need to create a profile on RegioNetwork 2020 and click on the 'access the chat' button on the homepage at 14.30h on 26 March.
Have you run an innovative project financed thanks to the EU Structural Funds that you would like to let people know about? Does your project make a contribution to smart, sustainable, inclusive growth at regional level? Does it relate to the urban development sector or help communicate better the contribution made by the cohesion policy? If so, you may be able to win one of the RegioStars 2013 awards, a prize presented every year by the European Commission. Each programme can submit one application in each category.
There are five award categories for 2013:
- SMART GROWTH: Connecting universities to regional growth
- SUSTAINABLE GROWTH: Supporting resource efficiency in small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)
- INCLUSIVE GROWTH: Social Innovation: creative responses to the challenges in society
- CITYSTAR CATEGORY: Integrated approaches to sustainable urban development
- INFORMATION & COMMUNICATION CATEGORY: Promoting EU Regional policy using short videos.
Applications may be sent by no later than 20 April 2012. The selected finalists will showcase their projects before an independent jury during the tenth annual European Week of Regions and Cities - OPEN DAYS 2012. The award ceremony will take place in Brussels in February 2013.
To register online, visit the RegioStars website.
Further information: REGIO-STARS@ec.europa.eu
The European Commission has today released a Communication on the first of its Macro-Regional Strategies, the European Union Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region (EUSBSR), setting out how it proposes to take co operation between the participating states up a gear. The aim of the Strategy is to increase the impact of EU funds to reach common goals, such as the improvement of water quality in the entire region. The Communication sets three priorities for co operation: "Save the Sea", "Connect the Region" and "Increase Prosperity. Targets and indicators are set under each. It also clarifies the roles and responsibilities of all those involved, to put the Strategy on a firm footing to prepare the 2014-2020 programming period.
The INTERREG IVC programme is looking for specialised experts to carry out a thematic programme capitalisation in the following 12 topics:
Priority 1: Innovation and Knowledge economy :
1. Innovation systems (triple helix & open innovation)
2. Innovation capacity of SMEs
4. Creative industries
6. E-government services
7. Demographic change
8. Rural development
Priority 2: Environment and Risk prevention :
9. Climate change
10. Energy efficiency
11. Renewable energy
12. Sustainable transport
The deadline for submitting the offers is 2 May 2012. For further information, see the INTERREG IVC website.
Comparative study on the project selection process applied in Cohesion Policy programmes 2007-2013 in a number of Member States
Selecting projects best contributing to fulfilment of the programme objectives with minimum administrative resources is crucial for delivery of the Cohesion Policy. DG Regional Policy commissioned a study comparing the project selection process in Austria, the Czech Republic, Germany, the Netherlands,Slovakia and Slovenia in the fields of research and development, innovation in the small and medium enterprises and urban regeneration. The study identified a number of areas for improvement of the process, in particular for reduction of the administrative burden, and provides recommendations and good practice examples for setting-up the project selection structures and procedures for this and the next programming periods.
Eurostat, the European Union's Statistics Agency, has just published the eagerly awaited regional GDP figures for 2009 – the first to reflect the economic consequences of the financial crisis in 2008. GDP per capita for 2009, expressed in terms of purchasing power standards, in the EU27's 271 NUTS-23 regions ranged from 27% of the EU27 average in the region of Severozapaden in Bulgaria, to 332% of the average in Inner London in the United Kingdom.
Seventeen regions recorded a GDP above 150% of the average. The highest were Inner London (332% of the average), Luxembourg (266%), Brussels (223%), Hamburg (188%) and the Bratislava region (178%).
Twenty-two regions below 50%. The lowest regions in the ranking were all in Bulgaria and Romania, with the lowest figures recorded in Severozapaden in Bulgaria (27% of the average), followed by Severen tsentralen in Bulgaria and Nord-Est in Romania (both 29%) and Yuzhen tsentralen in Bulgaria (31%).
Brussels, 15 March 2012 – The European Commission has today proposed to allocate an amount of EUR 18.06 million from the EU Solidarity Fund (EUSF) to Italy following the severe flooding in Liguria and Tuscany in October 2011. This funding will contribute towards the costs borne by public authorities in response to the emergency, in particular for restoring essential infrastructure, like reconnecting water, gas and electricity supplies.
Commissioner for Regional Policy Johannes Hahn, responsible for the EU Solidarity Fund, said: "I was able to see first hand the magnitude of the damage done and the importance of an EU intervention when visiting the affected sites in January. Our priority is to restore as quickly as possible normal living conditions for the citizens of these regions, as well as the speedy recovery of economic activity, such as tourism."
Following the Cohesion Policy proposals of 6th October, and to help Member States prepare for the next programming period, the Commission presented on 14 March 2012 the "Common Strategic Framework" (CSF). It is intended to help in setting strategic direction for the next financial planning period from 2014 to 2020 in Member States and their regions. It will enable a far better combining of various funds to maximise the impact of EU investments. National and regional authorities will use this framework as the basis for drafting their 'Partnership Contracts' with the Commission, committing themselves to meeting Europe's growth and jobs targets for 2020.
Comments on the CSF may be sent to the European Commission by e-mail (REGIO-CSF@ec.europa.eu).
European Commission reports emphasise the need to take measures to prevent the continuing degradation of European soils. Soil erosion, waterproofing (the overlay of fertile land by impermeable substances) and acidification are phenomena that have worsened over the last decade.
Within the framework of cohesion policy, approximately EUR 3.1 billion was allocated in 2007-2013 in order to rehabilitate industrial sites and contaminated land. Hungary, the Czech Republic and Germany are the countries that have in this connection been granted the most significant sums (EUR 475 million, EUR 371 million and EUR 332 million, respectively). It is envisaged that this type of support will be maintained in 2014-2020. Moreover, specific soil-protection measures (for example, for solid-waste management) have been integrated into the EU’s agenda for macro-regions.
The impact of single market on cohesion : Implications for Cohesion Policy, Growth, and Competitveness
The study assessed the impact of the Single Market on growth, competitiveness and employment in EU27, in particular as regards its role in generating disparities and convergence processes. It also analysed the institutional and policy linkages between cohesion policy, the Lisbon process and the Europe 2020 strategy. The study draws on a range of sources, including desk-based research, modeling work, econometric analysis as well as qualitative assessment through a number of case studies covering regions with different characteristics. The study draws conclusions concerning the alignment of cohesion policy with the Europe 2020 strategy, the integration of regions into the Single Market, the role of leading regions, the quality of public investment as well as the framework conditions for investments and addresses governance challenges.
The European Union provides support to European small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). This is available in different forms such as grants, loans and, in some cases, guarantees.
Support is available either directly or through programmes managed at national or regional level, such as the Structural Funds.
SMEs can also benefit from a series of non-financial assistance measures in the form of programmes and business support services.
A new guide aims to present the European programmes available to SMEs and contains brief information as well as the main web sites for each programme.
More information on structural funds and SMEs
The European Commission is publishing country factsheets outlining the progress of individual Member States in meeting their agreed targets under the Europe 2020 Strategy. The factsheets give the state of play in various themes under the three headline targets of the Strategy: Smart, Sustainable and Inclusive Growth. The factsheets will be an invaluable support in the negotiations on the next period of EU cohesion funding (2014-2020). They place each country in a European perspective by measuring performance and comparing to the EU average, as well as the best and the worst performers in theUnion.
Each fact sheet shows the country's national target, the EU target and the highest and lowest targets adopted by other countries. In addition, it measures how far that country is from the target it has set itself and compares this to the EU and the most and least ambitious country.
These factsheets are based primarily on data from Eurostat, but also from the Joint Research Centre, the European Environmental Agency, the World Bank and other sources. The targets have been collected from official documents. In some cases, absolute targets have been translated into relative targets to allow for a cross country comparison.
The European Commission adopted on 8 February a Communication dedicated to simplification in all policy areas to draw stakeholders' attention to the key aspects of simplification included in the regulatory proposals for the next Multiannual Financial Framework 2014-2020. Inview of the preparations of the next programming period, the brochure Simplifying Cohesion Policy for 2014-2020 explains to the beneficiaries and managing authorities in the European Union the main practical improvements proposed in terms of simplification as regards Cohesion Policy.
The latest issue out of the series 'Working papers' : A New Regional Competitiveness Index: Theory, Methods and Findings is now available.
The regional indicator 'EU Regional Competitiveness Index (RCI)' is the first composite indicator which provides a synthetic picture of territorial competitiveness for each of the NUTS 2 regions of the 27 EU Member States. It builds on and modifies the approach of the Global Competitiveness Index of the World Economic Forum (WEF) and consists of eleven pillars grouped in three groups: Basic, Efficiency and Innovation. It takes into account the level of development of the region by emphasising basic issues in less developed regions, and innovative capacity in more developed regions. The pillars measure not only issues relevant to firms but also those relevant to residents of the regions in question and their quality of life.
For further information, see the publication A New Regional Competitiveness Index: Theory, Methods and Findings.
'Working papers' is a series of short papers on regional research and indicators produced by the Directorate-General for Regional Policy.
The European Commission has proposed to suspend EUR 495 184 000 of Cohesion Fund commitments taking effect on 1 January 2013, representing 0.5 % of GDP and 29% of the country's cohesion fund allocations for 2013. This unprecedented step follows the Commission's repeated warnings to Hungary urging it to step up its efforts to end the country's excessive government deficit, and its subsequent failure to take appropriate action. On 11 January this year, the European Commission concluded, as part of the Excessive Deficit Procedure (EDP), that Hungary had not taken effective action to bring its deficit to below the target of 3% of GDP by 2011 in a sustainable and credible manner (see press release and memo). The European Commission therefore proposed to step up the Procedure. This recommendation was endorsed by the Council of Ministers on 24 January, paving the way for a suspension of part of the Cohesion Fund commitments for Hungary.
The debates from the first European Urban Forum will be rebroadcast live on this site between 0930 and 1600 on 16 February. This event will bring together around 500 participants inBrussels, including the mayors of a number of large European cities and representatives of urban networks, associations and European institutions. The Commissioner for Regional Policy Johannes Hahn wishes to launch a direct dialogue withEurope’s cities in order to discuss the place of urban development in the cohesion policy for 2014-2020. This dialogue will then be put on a formal footing with the creation of a ‘European urban development platform’, encouraging the exchange of experiences at EU level.
In particular, the mayors of Amsterdam, Barcelona, Warsaw, Lisbon, Sofia, Bratislava, Manchester, Leipzig, Łódź,Naples,Turin,Roubaix andDunkirk will be attending the Urban Forum.
You will be able to follow the debates on the conference site in 4 languages (the speaker’s language, English, French and German):
Brazil, a country of 27 Federal States, experiences the challenge of significant regional, economic and social disparities, for example, between North and south, between urban and rural areas, between the coastal areas and those in the interior. The country also shares borders with 11 countries and which means that, as in the European Union, cooperation with its neighbours is highly important.
The European Commission's Regional Policy DG has been working together with the Brazilian Ministry of National Integration (MNI) since 2006 to share experiences on regional policy development and implementation. For the fourth consecutive year, the European Parliament has voted resources to support this cooperation with third countries. It has now entered into the core competences of the Commission Directorate general for Regional Policy ("DG REGIO"). Ronnie Hall, Director in DG REGIO spoke with Mr Henrique Villa da Costa Ferreira, Director for Regional Development Policies from the MNI to reflect on this cooperation and to see whatBrazilfeels it has gained from it.
The European Commission has published a practical guide to 'EU funding Opportunities for Research and Innovation'.
This new edition covers the following EU funding instruments:
- 7th Research Framework Programme
- Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme
- EU Structural Funds
- European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development
- European Fisheries Fund
- Lifelong learning programme
- LIFE + in the field of the environment.
It also describes the research and innovation funding opportunities offered to countries and territories beyond the European Union, in the framework of Pre-accession Assistance and within the European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument.
This updated Practical Guide allows potential beneficiaries to quickly identify exactly how they can access European funding at any stage of a project.
Following an agreement at the 30 January European Council, the €82 billion of EU structural funds still to be allocated to projects is to be quickly examined to ensure that it is effectively mobilised to support economic growth and job creation. In particular the remaining funding will be examined to see if it can have a greater impact on tackling youth unemployment and providing support for small businesses.
Member States accepted a proposal from President Barroso to examine the plans for the unallocated European Social Fund resources to help finance training and work experience opportunities for young people. The Commission will now work with the national authorities and social partners from the eight EU countries with the highest youth unemployment rates (Spain, Greece, Italy, Portugal, Slovakia, Latvia, Lithuania and Ireland) to ensure that existing plans are accelerated and reinforced where possible.
Member States also endorsed proposals to review, accelerate and redirect European Regional Development funding in support of job creation by small businesses. Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises have created 80% of all new jobs in the EU over the last five years.
These decisions follow on from a series of actions that the European Commission has taken to ensure that structural funds help EU countries to improve growth prospects and counter the effects of the economic crisis, including:
- Increased rates of co-financing
- Advances for the countries hardest hit by the crisis
- Reprogramming and simplification of procedures
- Access to finance for SMEs
The 3rd and final URBACT Call for Proposals is now open for the creation of up to 19 new Thematic Networks. Expressions of interest are invited up until 15th March 2012.
URBACT is a European exchange and learning programme promoting sustainable urban development jointly financed by the European Union (European Regional Development Fund) and the Member States. The programme enables cities from across Europe to work together to develop solutions to major urban challenges, reaffirming the key role they play in facing increasingly complex societal changes.
Projects approved through this 3rd URBACT Call for proposals will address one of the 8 topics defined for this call, and partner cities will be requested to consider the 3 following challenges:
• How to manage urban development in the context of the economic and financial crisis
• How to foster integrated and sustainable approaches to urban development
• How to develop efficient partnerships and multi-level governance processes
For more information, visit the URBACT website.
End of year analysis confirms 2011 as another high performance year for cohesion policy in the Member States. The European Commission's analysis has shown record levels of payments in Member States, ensuring the timely implementation of the EU's main investment policy. Some EUR 32.9 billion were paid out by the Commission to the Member States in 2011, representing an increase of 8% over the previous level of EUR 30.5 billion in 2010.
The average payment rate for all 3 funds (ERDF, ESF, Cohesion Fund) in the EU-27 was at 33.4% of the allocated amounts on 31 December 2011. These rates vary significantly between countries, from 16.5% to 48.3%; while the analysis per fund reveals that the ERDF payments increased by 55% year-on-year from 22.3% at end 2010 to 34.3% at end 2011.
Meanwhile, in the aftermath of the financial crisis, temporary "top-up" payments were made to Greece and Romania for a value of 374 million € following the entry into force of Regulation 1311/2011 on 20 December.
Paid / Decided*
Ceska Republika/Czech Republic
*Claims pending at end 2011 amount to EUR 9.6 billion for all funds (ERDF, ESF, CF). Due to lack of credits, this amount will be paid on 2012 credits, but would have brought the overall Structural Funds payments to 36.14%.
Live webstreaming : Commissioner Hahn to address European Parliament Committee on Regional development
Commissioner for Regional Policy, Johannes Hahn addresses the European Parliament's REGI (Regional Development) committee's first meeting of 2012 on 25 January. On the agenda once more will be the legislative package post-2013 and the Commissioner briefing MEPs on the state of play of negotiations in the Council.
The draftsmen of Parliament's positions on the various proposed regulations will also present their Working Documents and debate the issues at stake; while the Danish Presidency of the Council will also partake in the debate with the representation of Nicolai Wammen, Minister of European Affairs, presenting the priorities of the Danish Presidency in the field of cohesion policy.
You can follow proceedings of the committee Live via Webstreaming and see the Agenda: Committee on Regional Development
Denmark has just taken the helm of the European Union for six months and has presented its work programme. On the subject of the cohesion policy, it has undertaken to make progress on the negotiations on the new regulations for 2014-2020, along with the discussions on the multiannual financial framework. Its aim is to win the agreement of the Member States and European Parliament on certain priority matters, in particular: strategic planning, thematic concentration, ex-ante conditionality, simplification, financial management and controls. Two General Affairs Council (GAC) meetings will take stock of the negotiations on 24 April and 26 June2012 inLuxembourg.
European Commission’s proposals for Cohesion Policy 2014-2020
In its proposals for the cohesion policy 2014-2020 the European Commission suggests strengthening the urban aspect. In line with his commitment to set an ambitious urban agenda at EU level, Commissioner Johannes Hahn is launching a direct dialogue with Europe’s cities. The mayors of Europe’s cities and representatives of the European institutions are being invited to the first Urban Forum which will take place on 16 February in Brussels. It will involve discussing the new proposals contained in the new legislative package and preparing the future urban development platform which will be created to promote capacity building and the exchange of experiences at EU level.
Further information: Urban Forum
In 2010, the Regional Studies Association launched its Regional Insights magazine as a new publication for the Association. Regional Insights focuses on publishing short articles from Student and Early Career members, and making their research accessible for all Association members.
The editors are currently seeking submissions of paper proposals for short articles (max. 3,000 words) for future editions. All Student and Early Career members of the Regional Studies Association are eligible to publish in Regional Insights. Contributions are welcomed from any discipline in the field of Regional Studies and with any geographical focus.
Deadline for paper proposals: 14th February. For more information, see here
"Cohesion Policy 2014-2020 investing in Europe's Regions": full analysis and feedback in the latest edition of Panorama magazine now online
The winter 2011/2012 edition of Panorama gives a more in-depth review of the new approach proposed for cohesion policy from 2014-2020. A full analysis of the proposals is provided in a special eight-page feature, along with reactions from key interlocutors, such as the European Women's Lobby, the European Anti-Poverty Network, the European Association of Craft, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises and the Assembly of European Regions. Interviews with French and Swedish high-level regional actors are also included, while a whole range of thematic articles look at projects in European Territorial Cooperation, the Urban dimension of the policy and the RegioStars awards categories for 2013.
Panorama is currently available in English, French and German. The other language versions will be accessible beginning of February on the Inforegio website.
Which region has the highest proportion of higher education graduates? Which cities are considered to have the worst air quality? Which regions have the highest intensity of research and development?
The answers to these and plenty more questions can be found in the 2011 regional yearbook from Eurostat, the European Union’s office of statistics. This publication gives an overview of the most recent economic, social and demographic trends in the 271 NUTS level 2 regions in the 27 Member States of the European Union.
The European Commission's search for the most innovative projects which have received investment from EU Cohesion Policy continues in 2012 and 2013.
2012 Awards – Commission unveils finalists
The Commission has announced the finalists for the 2012 RegioStars Awards. The 2012 RegioStars Jury under the Chairmanship of Mr Luc Van den Brande has chose 24 finalists from the 107 nominations received. The 24 projects highlight the excellent and innovative work being done on the ground and represent a good geographical spread across the Union. The 24 projects will make presentations to the Jury at an event on 16 January 2012.
The 2012 finalists, in no particular order, are as follows:
Category 1: Smart Growth - service innovation
- 'Technopol Programme' - Lower Austria, AT
- 'RUR@CT' – régions actrices de l’innovation rurale – Limousin, FR
- 'Innovative Collaboration Networks for Smart growth' – London, UK
- 'ECO World Styria' - Styria, AT
- 'Hohe Tauern Health' - Salzburg, AT
- 'Orientation and guidance services for start-ups in Brandenburg' – Brandenburg, DE
- 'Digi-lodge' - various Greek regions, EL
Category 2: Sustainable Growth – eco-system services
- 'Parc naturel transfrontalier du Hainaut (PNTH)'- Wallonie–Nord-Pas de Calais. BE-FR
- 'Alps-Carpathian Corridor Trnava' – Bratislava, Vienna, Burgenland, Niederösterreich. SK-AT
- 'SIC ADAPT! (Strategic Initiative Cluster – Adaptation to the impacts of climate change)' – North‑West Europe, DE BE FR IE LU NL UK
- 'Green Corridors Contracts' - Rhône-Alpes, FR
- 'GRaBS: Green and blue space adaptation for urban areas and eco-towns' - England (leader), UK
Category 3: Inclusive growth – addressing demographic change and active ageing
- 'I-Cane' - Province of Limburg, NL
- 'Project for Early Support of Elderly People in their Daily Lives (VAMU)' - Northern Savo, FI
- 'O4O : Older people for older people' - Finland, Greenland, N.Ireland, Scotland, Sweden, UK FI IE SE
- 'Seniors in Motion' - Northern Portugal, PT
Category 4: Citystar: - Integrated development of deprived urban areas
- 'SÖM South East Malmö' – Malmö, SE
- 'Baum – Bratislava Urban Regional Cooperation' - Nordburgenland, Wiener Umland-Nord, Wiener Umland-Süd, VUC Bratislava, SK-AT
- 'Open LAB Ebbinge (OLE)' – Groningen, NL
- 'Rediscovering Vila do Conde' - Vila do Conde, PT
Category 5: Information and Communication: presenting project data
- 'http://www.estlat.eu/' - Estonia – Latvia, EE-LV
- 'http://www.europaomdehoek.nl/' - The Netherlands, NL
- 'http://www.efrr.wrotapodlasia.pl/' – Podlaskie, PL
- 'http://www.nfu.gov.hu/' – Hungary
The Jury's decision on the award winners will be announced in June 2012 at the Regions for Economic Change conference.
The application process for the 2013 RegioStars Awards is now open. The Award Categories for 2013 are:
1. SMART GROWTH: Connecting universities to regional growth
- SUSTAINABLE GROWTH: Supporting resource efficiency in SMEs
- INCLUSIVE GROWTH: Social innovation: creative responses to societal challenges
- CITYSTAR: Integrated approaches to sustainable urban development
- INFORMATION & COMMUNICATION: Promoting EU Regional policy with short videos
Applications should be sent by 20 April 2012. The selected finalists will have the opportunity to showcase their projects before an independent jury during the tenth annual European Week of Regions and Cities - OPEN DAYS 2012. The Award ceremony itself will take place in Brussels in early 2013.
Further information is available on the RegioStars website and on Twitter (@EU_Regional, hashtag #regiostars).
This publication, available on line here, will give you an insight into how cooperation, including the European groupings for territorial cooperation and EU macro-regional strategies, currently works, and what the future may hold. It brings you stories about people from all over Europe who either have benefited from, or are somehow connected to, cooperation.
European Territorial Cooperation is central to the construction of a common European space, and a cornerstone of European integration. It has clear European added value: helping to ensure that borders are not barriers, bringing Europeans closer together, helping to solve common problems, facilitating the sharing of ideas and assets, and encouraging strategic work towards common goals.
Should you wish to order one copy, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the language requested and your full contact details.
How can EU regional funding best promote the roll-out of broadband?
The European Commission has published a guide for public authorities managing EU funds on the strengths and weaknesses of different models of investment in high speed internet infrastructures. It provides advice to managing authorities and project promoters on the issues that should be considered when planning a public sector investment in broadband infrastructure.
The guide is based on a detailed review of several broadband investment projects (mostly co-funded by the European Regional Development Fund). It includes messages on success factors and lessons learned.
The Digital Agenda for Europe aims to ensue that by 2020 all Europeans should have access to the Internet at speeds above 30Mbit/s and 50% or more of European households should have subscriptions above 100 Mbit/s.
The guide has been co-signed by Commissioners Hahn, Kroes, Ciolos and Almunia. It complements other activities by the Commission services such as the European Broadband Portal and the Bottom up Broadband initiative.
Universities can play a vital role in the development of regional innovation strategies.
The European Commission has published a guide designed to help Managing Authorities responsible for programmes under the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) to improve the involvement of Universities in regional development.
The guide aims to promote the active engagement of universities and other higher education institutions in regional innovation strategies for smart specialisation, in cooperation with research centres, businesses and other partners in the civil society. It can also be used by academic and economic partners to explore the benefits they can expect from working together for regional development.
It is not an academic publication but a practical tool with recommendations, part of a series of guides prepared in the framework of the Smart Specialisation Platform set up by the Commission for providing methodological assistance and practical guidance to national and regional policy makers involved in designing and delivering innovation strategies for smart specialisation. It will be useful for the last years of the current ERDF programming period (2007-2013) and for preparing the next period (2014-2020).
On Friday 16th December, the General Affairs Council of the EU will hold a debate on the basis of a progress report drawn up by the Polish Presidency on the legislative package for future cohesion policy, adopted on 6th October 2011. The package contains proposals for five regulations for the period 2014-2020, laying down principles and detailed operating rules of the Cohesion Fund, the European Regional Development Fund, the European Social Fund and of European Groupings of Territorial Cooperation. The overarching regulation also lays down provisions common to these Funds and to the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund.
Discussions are expected to focus on the central themes of strategic programming and thematic concentration – both with a view to ensuring the closer alignment of cohesion policy with the goals of the Europe 2020 Strategy.
These regulations will have to be adopted by the end of 2012 to allow the new programming of cohesion policy to get underway on time to start in 2014.
The second bi-annual meeting of 2011 between the Commission's Regional Policy's department (DG REGIO) and representatives from regional offices in Brussels takes place on 15 December. EU Commissioner for Regional Policy, Johannes Hahn will present the legislative package on future cohesion policy for 2014-2020. This will be followed by an open floor discussion. Registration for this event has now closed but you can follow proceedings live from 15h00 to 17h00 in English, French and German.
The European Commission has amended a 2006 Regulation on investments through financial engineering instruments, in order to help businesses to have ready access to investment. This measure enters into force on 1 December.
The amendment to Article 45 of Regulation (EC) No 1828/2006 aims to reinforce investment in businesses, particularly Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs), in all Member States through financial engineering instruments. It allows for investment in enterprises at any stage of their normal business activity and not only at the time when they are established or are expanding.
The measure is of particular importance in times of lack of liquidity for enterprises and public budgetary constraints.
The European Union has declared 2012 as the ‘Year of Active Ageing and Solidarity between Generations’. This provides an occasion to remember that Europeans are living longer and healthier nowadays and to reflect on the prospects this offers.
Active ageing provides baby-boomers and the future elderly population with an opportunity to keep working and share their experience, as well as to continue playing an active role in society and leading as healthy and enriching a life as possible.
The European Commission, the Committee of the Regions and AGE Platform Europe have published a brochure on the subject, entitled ‘How to promote active ageing in Europe – EU support to local and regional actors’. This document features examples of projects funded by the EU which support the objectives of the 2012 European Year and provides an overview of the funding programmes which the EU makes available to local, regional and national actors.
Seventh report on economic, social and territorial cohesion shows regions' and cities' contribution to Europe 2020
The seventh progress report on economic, social and territorial cohesion, highlighting the urban and regional dimension of the Europe 2020 strategy has just been published. Hot on the heels of the Commission's legislative proposals for cohesion policy post-2013, the report assesses how, in the context of cohesion policy, regions and cities can contribute to smart, sustainable and inclusive growth and Europe 2020 headline targets. It also measures the distance of regions from national 2020 targets proposed in the Member States.
This report shows that cities and regions are faced with different combinations of development problems and growth potential. This is one of the main reasons cohesion policy uses an integrated approach that can be adjusted to local needs and opportunities.
The report provides an important input to current discussions on the 2014-2020 period. Future cohesion policy programmes must look at how they will contribute to the EU reaching 2020 targets, and how EU investment will help them reach these goals.
On 29 and 30 November experts from Member States, from civil society, from the academic world and the EU Institutions will meet in Brussels to discuss around “Cohesion policy investing in energy efficiency in buildings”.
The aim of this conference and workshop, organised by DG Regional Policy, is to inform participants about developments at EU level which are relevant to the period 2014-2020, and to focus on implementation difficulties encountered and possible solutions for the future.
A workshop session will take place on 30 November to discuss difficulties in implementation experienced in Member States.
You can follow the conference in web-streaming:
Papers and presentations will be published after the conference on the website:
Following a meeting on 28 November between European Commissioner for Regional Policy Johannes Hahn and the governors of the Greek regions and mayors from the main cities, an updated list of priority projects to be co-funded by the European Commission was presented. This list will be updated regularly, as regularly new projects will be added, in order to use the EU structural funds and cohesion fund in the most optimal way, to ensure that high quality projects with a strong added value will create economic growth and new jobs in all Greek regions.
Invitation to the Closing Conference of Effective Roma Campaigning (Strand 3 of the EP Roma Pilot Project)
On Tuesday 29 November, the European Roma Grassroots Organisations (ERGO) network is organising a closing conference in their awareness-raising campaign, as part of the European Parliament Roma Pilot Project. The event will take place from 13:30 to 17:30 at Mundo B (Rue d’Edimbourg 26, 1050 Brussels, metro Porte de Namur).
To conclude the campaign, the ERGO Network, along with its implementing partners (the Policy Center for Roma and Minorities (Romania), Integro Association (Bulgaria) and Roma Active Albania) will present results, achievements and lesson learned, and showcase a selection of the rich research that bears testimony to their achievements and presents the stories behind the conclusions.
Commissioner Johannes Hahn attends Informal ministerial meeting: "Integrated approach to development - a key to smart, sustainable and inclusive Europe"
Poznań, Poland - 24-25 November
A high-level discussion on the development of Europe, the shape of the post-2013 Cohesion Policy and its territorial dimension, as well as on the integrated approach to development are the topics for discussion in Poznań on 24 and 25 November. The meeting is the first of its kind, bringing together ministers dealing with regional development policy form all Member States and is a key event on the calendar of the Polish Presidency of the Council.
The ministerial meeting aims to revive strategic actions for European development, discussing methods of maximising Europe’s potential and directing it towards the fulfilment of strategic goals to ensure the reconstruction of the European economy and allow its entry into competition in global markets. It presents the integrated approach to regional development as a key to achieving the goals of the Europe 2020 Strategy of Smart and Sustainable Growth for All.
Fro more information see: http://pl2011.eu/en/content/integrated-approach-development-key-smart-sustainable-and-inclusive-europe
The European Commission is proposing to allocate EUR 21 million to Spain in the wake of the earthquake which hit the town of Lorca last May, and EUR 16.9 million to the Italian region of Veneto to clear up the aftermath of the torrential rain in 2010. This aid being provided from the European Union’s Solidarity Fund will go towards reimbursing the cost of the emergency measures carried out, such as the rescue operations, cleaning up the disaster-stricken areas and restoring the basic infrastructure.
For more information, visit:
The Regional Studies Association (RSA) has launched two calls for papers for upcoming conferences in 2012.
The first of these takes place from Sunday 13th to Wednesday 16th May at Delft University of Technology in The Netherlands (with a field trip on Sunday 13th May) and is entitled 'Networked regions and cities in times of fragmentation: Developing smart, sustainable and inclusive places'. The conference will look at the increased interdependency of cities, in environmental, social and economic terms; and the patterns of interaction between them. It examines the implications of this for regional governance, as well as the potential it offers for the development of regional clusters and networks. Such networked cities and regions face challenges of coordination and blurred boundaries of competence, with consequences for transparency, accountability and legitimacy of decision-making.
The RSA welcomes papers that consider these issues in relation to the development of smart, sustainable and inclusive places (the three dimensions of the Europe 2020 Strategy), with a deadline for Abstract submission of 10th February 2012
The second conference sees the RSA hosting its annual conference outside Europe for the very first time, in Beijing, China. It is being organised in conjunction with the Chinese Academy of Sciences, around the theme: 'Sustaining Regional Futures'. Papers assessing the forms and successes of regional policies in managing regional disparities; establishing basic public services; supporting endogenous growth; promoting regional competitiveness etc are invited. Equally, papers on governance, city-regions, spatial planning and analysis (in the context of China, or elsewhere) are most welcome. The deadline for abstract submission is 10th February 2012.
For further information, see: www.regionalstudies.org
The EU's independent audit institution, the European Court of Auditors (ECA), which examines whether EU income and expenditure is completely and accurately recorded in the accounts and has been raised or spent in accordance with all contractual and legal obligations, has released its assessment of the management and control of EU funds for 2010.
While errors do still occur, the European Commission and European Parliament will persist in their efforts with the Member States to ensure the continuous reduction over the coming years and financial terms. Regarding cohesion policy spending, the Court finds that errors are concentrated in a small number of programmes in a limited number of Member States. Two thirds of the error rate is found in 7 programmes in 3 MS. The Commission will work with these countries in particular to assist them in their financial control and management systems.
At the end of October, torrential rain caused serious damage to the world famous archaeological site at Pompeii in Italy. Violent storms had already caused part of the site to collapse in 2010.
On 7 November, Regional Policy Commissioner Johannes Hahn visited Pompeii and agreed with the Italian authorities on an action plan entailing investments of EUR 105 million, to be financed from a national contribution and a European contribution, to ensure that Pompeii’s precious legacy of the past is preserved.
The European investment will be funded from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) under a programme entitled ‘Attrattori culturali, naturali e turismo’, designed to support the cultural, natural and tourist attractions of Campania, Puglia, Calabria and Sicily between 2007 and 2013.
For more information visit:
A seminar on local development as a key pillar of post-2013 EU integrated territorial policies due to be held in Brussels on 29 November will be attended by representatives of the European institutions and the Polish Presidency of the EU.
In its proposals on future cohesion policy presented on 6 October, the Commission suggested that integrated local development strategies should be implemented and local action groups set up, in a bid to find better ways of combining the various European funds [European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), European Social Fund (ESF), European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) and European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF)] at local level.
The seminar has been organised by the Council of European Municipalities and Regions (CEMR), in partnership with the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities and the Romanian Municipalities Association and is sponsored by the European Parliament.
For more information visit:
The European Commission has recently published its 'Analysis of errors in cohesion policy for the years 2006-2009', as well as actions it has taken to reduce their occurrence, and the way forward. While errors do exist, they are concentrated in a handful of programmes in a small number of Member States. The document stresses however, that 'errors' are not equal to 'fraud'. The term 'error' is used for any non-compliance with a condition for receiving EU funds, while 'fraud' entails deliberate or criminal deception for the purpose of making an unjust gain. The Commission's analysis highlights the most common examples of errors, such as contracts awarded without following the correct tender procedure; inadequate documentation to support expenditure (lack of audit trail); inaccurate calculation of overheads; application of incorrect co-financing rate; and, overestimated payment claims.
The Commission will continue its stringent audit work, along with the European Court of Auditors to further reduce the incidence of such errors. The proposed legislative package for cohesion policy form 2014-2020 will play a major part in this also through such features as the move to E-Cohesion (electronic data management) and conditions for a wider use of simplified costs.
Commissioner Hahn attended the Conference of Presidents of Ultra-peripheral Regions (chaired by Regional Council President Serge Letchimy) in Martinique (France) on 3 and 4 November and outlined the Commission’s recent cohesion policy 2014-2020 proposals.
The new legislative package takes account of the special circumstances of ultra-peripheral regions, as recognised in the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU):
- the specific allocation to compensate for additional costs due to their insularity is to be maintained;
- ultra-peripheral regions will continue to benefit from Community co-financing of up to 85%;
- they will also receive a larger envelope of the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) for territorial cooperation (up from EUR 150 million to 275 million).
The European Commission is in the process of planning a new strategy for the ultra-peripheral regions, to be adopted in 2012, which will make the most of their numerous advantages.
The European Union has 8 ultra-peripheral regions: five French overseas departments (Réunion, Guadeloupe, French Guiana, Saint-Martin and Martinique), two Portuguese autonomous regions (Azores and Madeira) and one Spanish autonomous community (Canary Islands).
IMMODI is an INTERREG IVC project which brings together 10 partners from European Regions representing 7 countries: Italy, France, Spain, Bulgaria, Germany, Finland and Sweden. It aims to address the development of e-government and e-health services in mountainous and rural regions of the EU.
The IMMODI project partners held an information conference on 26th October at the EU Committee of the Regions in Brussels. The specific objective of the project is the transfer of good practices to regional operational programs in the framework of cohesion policy. Each participating region prepared action plans which are expected to be signed by the managing authorities at the final conference in Auvergne on the 15th November 2011.
A general overview of the regional partners and a summary of the identified good practices in the field of e-health, broadband and e-government, is now available at:
From 24-25 October 2011 Warsaw will host the conference 'Effective Instruments Supporting Territorial Development', co-organised by the Polish Ministry of Regional Development and the European Commission. The conference, one of the major events of the Polish Presidency, will facilitate an exchange of views and best practice between practitioners dealing with cohesion policy on the ground, and will also see the Commission present proposals for cohesion policy instruments supporting territorial development. The conference will pay particular attention to urban areas – as engines for innovation and growth, and their linkages with rural areas, as well as the local approach to development.
The conference comes just weeks after the Commission's adoption of legislative proposals in the area of cohesion policy for the period after 2013. The discussions around the future policy framework will be enriched by practical observations from experience in the implementation of EU policy instruments in current programmes. Commissioner for Regional Policy, Johannes Hahn will attend on the first day and will present the Commission's “Cities of tomorrow” report.
The second annual early career researcher competition was held at this year's OPEN DAYS, European Week of Regions and Cities (10-13 October). DG REGIO, together with the Regional Studies Association, invited early career researchers in European regional policy to present their research in the form of a poster. 6 finalists were chosen this year out of nearly 80 applications by the jury, which was made up of Veronica Gaffey, Head of the Evaluation Unit, DG REGIO, Ana Stankaitiene, Principal adviser, EU Structural Assistance Management Department, Ministry of Finance, Lithuania and David Bailey , Chair of the Regional Studies Association, and Professor at the Faculty of Business, Environment and Society, Coventry University, United Kingdom
The six finalists presented their research at OPEN DAYS in front of approximately 40 participants. The winner, Anne Nygaard Tanner from the Technical University of Denmark presented her research "Where do high tech industries of the 21st century locate? And how can regional policy attract new industries?" while the runner-up, Andrei Mitrea from the ‘Ion Mincu’ University of Architecture and Urban Planning (UAUIM), Bucharest, Romania presented his research on "Regional Innovation Systems within Urban-Rural Relations in Romania. A mid-term regional development strategy based on the wood industry". Details of the next early career researcher competition will be announced in February 2012.
Decision-makers from business, politics, international organisations and academia will meet in the Polish City of Gdańsk on 24-26 October to discuss the development of the Baltic Sea Region.
The 2nd Annual Forum on the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region will take place together with the 13th Baltic Development Forum (BDF) Summit.
The EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region, launched in 2009, mobilises several EU policies to support the development of this "macro-region". The Strategy aims to make the region more environmentally sustainable, economically prosperous, accessible, attractive, safe and secure.
Under the headline New Ambitions for the Baltic Sea Region, the programme of the 24-26 October event includes discussions on the link between the Baltic Sea Region Strategy and the Europe 2020 Strategy for sustainable, smart and inclusive growth. Commissioner Hahn is scheduled to speak at the event.
Do you want to find out more about the Commission's proposals for EU cohesion policy during the period 2014-2020?
Johannes Hahn, European Commissioner for Regional Policy, will be making himself available to answer your questions in a live webchat from 15-16h on Tuesday 18 October.
The webchat will take place on the Commission's RegioNetwork 2020 website. You will need to create a profile on the site (if you do not already have one), log in and click on the 'access the chat' button on the homepage of the site to participate.
EU Cohesion Policy is now widely recognised as a lever for stimulating global competitiveness across the EU at regional and local level, and is looked upon as a model worldwide for its principles of multilevel governance, long-term strategic vision ad local economic development.
Open Days 2011 draws on this by bringing together stakeholders from around the globe to discuss the future of the policy. Some 5,000 participants will share best practices in cohesion policy implementation and learn from each other, as well as from national and regional policy makers, practitioners and representatives of business, civil society and academia from the EU, Latin America, Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia, Japan, China and Brazil. The 200+ participating EU regions will have the chance to hear from these third country experts, as well as from international organisations
Most of the participating countries have cooperation agreements with the EU on regional policy dialogue, drawing on the EU experience of fostering civil society participation and the bottom-up approach. OPEN DAYS 2011 will give these countries the chance to present their own experiences and discuss best practice in a global context.
Two new publications, highlighting the cooperation with Brazil and China on regional policy, have just been published:
- Brazil – EU Dialogue on Regional Policy : English - Português
- Regional Policy in China and the EU, A comparative perspective : English – Zhongwen
For more information, visit:
The Commission is publishing on the occasion of the Open Days of Regional Policy 2011 a European Code of Good Conduct for microcredit provision. This Code provides recommendations and standards that should foster best practice in the microcredit sector. It is intended to provide guidance for microcredit providers from the point of view of consumers, investors, funders and regulators.
By setting out good practice guidelines and identifying expectations and common principles, the Commission is seeking to support the microcredit sector in facing the challenges of accessing long term finance, maintaining and raising the quality of services and moving towards sustainability.
Organised in a practical way, this voluntary Code of Good Conduct is divided into five indexed sections addressing customer and investor relations, governance, common reporting standards, management information systems and risk management. A sixth section on social performance will be added to the document in 2012.
This document was developed in close consultation with a large number of stakeholders including representatives of the banking and non-banking micro-credit sectors.
The European Union has EU set itself an agenda to achieve smart and sustainable growth for every EU citizen through its 'Europe2020 Strategy'. The Strategy, adopted in March 2010, saw EU leaders set themselves the key targets of;
- lowering unemployment rates across the EU;
- raising educational attainment;
- continuing to invest a set amount in research and development, and measuring results;
- abiding by our environmental commitments to reduce carbon emissions; and
- reducing poverty in all parts of the Union.
On Thursday 13 October, in the framework of OPEN DAYS – Europe Week of Regions and Cities 2011, the three European Commissioners tasked with the key policies to meet these targets will come together in Brussels.
Commissioner for Regional Policy, Johannes HAHN, Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Maria DAMANAKI and Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion, László ANDOR will discuss, together with Loretta DORMAL-MARINO, Deputy Director-General for Agriculture and Rural Development, in a roundtable, questions & answers format, the progress of the Union in meeting the Strategy's goals, and particularly how their four respective policy areas are moving Europe in the right direction.
For more information see: www.opendays.europa.eu
The European Union's Solidarity Fund (EUSF) provides support to regions affected by major natural disasters. In order to improve the functioning of the EUSF, the Commission has adopted a Communication on the Future of the EUSF with proposals for making the Fund simpler, clearer, quicker to respond and more visible for the citizens. Following discussion with Member States, the European Parliament and other stakeholders the Communication could lead to a legislative proposal at a later stage.
The European Commission has adopted a draft legislative package which will frame cohesion policy for 2014-2020. The new proposals are designed to reinforce the strategic dimension of the policy and to ensure that EU investment is targeted on Europe's long-term goals for growth and jobs ("Europe 2020").
Through Partnership Contracts agreed with the Commission, Member States will commit to focussing on fewer investment priorities in line with these objectives. The package also harmonises the rules related to different funds, including rural development and maritime and fisheries, to increase the coherence of EU action.
Follow the debate on Twitter: @EU_Regional
Following the visit of Commissioner Hahn to Athens on 19-21 September which initiated a series of Action Plans to stimulate the Greek economy, the Greek authorities have compiled a list of 44 viable major projects that according to their estimations should be completed within the current programming period i.e. by 2015. These projects should bring a concrete and immediate contribution to economic growth and jobs in Greece. The feasibility of each project has so far been assessed by the Greek Managing Authorities and sets out deadlines and lines of responsibility. The management and implementation of these 44 major projects remain under the full responsibility of the Greek authorities. It is foreseen that these projects will accelerate the absorption of EU Structural Funds with a particular emphasis on developing infrastructure within the operational programme's priorities.
The list is established by the Greek authorities and does not pre-empt the agreement of the Commission's services on these projects (a review will take place with all related Commission Services including the new Task Force) nor their approval by the Commission before the official submission and assessment of the files for the major projects.
In parallel, the Commission Services are working together with the Greek authorities to draw up a list of viable flagship projects which are not only mature, but will also boost regional economic growth and employment opportunities to maximum effect. A preliminary list is currently under evaluation by the Commission Services and will be finalised in the coming weeks.Further information
From 10th to 13th October 2011, politicians, officials, experts and researchers will come from all around Europe to discuss, debate, and help shape the future of EU Cohesion Policy. Now, nine years running, OPEN DAYS is more than just an annual event for cities and regions to showcase good practices in regional development. It is a veritable forum where people from all levels of government and civil society meet.
OPEN DAYS 2011 will comprise of over 100 sessions and networking opportunities for over 6,000 participants expected in Brussels. The event is organised by the European Commission's DG Regional Policy and the Committee of the Regions (CoR) in partnership with 206 regions and cities from all over Europe, and further afield, as well as national and regional policy‑makers, practitioners and representatives of business, civil society and academia. About 300 journalists are also expected to register.
Debates will focus on three main themes:
- Europe 2020: How do Cohesion Policy and the Structural Funds contribute to smart, sustainable and inclusive growth?
- Better delivery: How can the EU improve the delivery of Cohesion Policy now and beyond 2013?
- Geography matters: What future for territorial cooperation and what lessons can be learnt from third countries?
All participants are also invited to contribute to a set of seminars forming the ‘OPEN DAYS University’. Here, a selected number of renowned academics from different European countries specialised in urban and regional studies will hold 10 joint lectures and seminars where the findings of their recent research will be discussed, focusing on the thematic priorities of OPEN DAYS 2011.
Watch the Opening Session broadcast LIVE from the European Parliament at 3pm on 10 October here: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/wps-europarl-internet/frd/live/live-video?language=en
All photos of the event will be available on Flickr
For further details, contact points and regular updates, check the website
In 2002, the EU, with a view to promoting balanced, dynamic urban development, created URBACT - a European exchange and learning network promoting sustainable urban development through the sharing of good practice, and cooperation between cities to find and share innovative, sustainable and integrated solutions to their common urban challenges.
Today, URBACT brings together some 300 cities in 29 countries; and in September 2011, 20 sponsored projects are presenting their results after a three year programme of learning and exchange. The projects have collaborated to research and test solutions to challenges such as preservation of cultural heritage, regeneration of disadvantaged neighbourhoods, stimulation of innovation and creativity, active inclusion etc.
For more information on the solutions offered by individual projects - such as:
- 'REDIS - Restructuring districts into science quarters';
- 'OPENCities - Openness and the competitive advantage of diversity'; or
- ' My Generation – Effective strategies in promoting the positive potential of the young generation',
Tel: 00 33 1 49 17 46 40
The latest issue of Panorama magazine, "2020: The role of Regional Policy in the future of Europe", is now online
This “autumn” issue of Panorama falls within the scope of the EU 2020 growth strategy for the coming decade. This edition examines the role of regional policy in helping Member States reach the EU's 2020 strategy targets and takes a closer look at what regional policy is doing now to foster smart, sustainable and inclusive growth in the EU. Interviews with key people in our regions and presentations of projects throughout Europe complete the scope of the magazine.
Panorama is currently available in English, French and German. The other language versions will be accessible at the end of October on the Inforegio website.
The European Commission has launched a publicity campaign on Euronews to enhance the visibility of regional policy and its results.
During six weeks between September and November, four different daily broadcasts will feature the winners of the 2011 Regiostars Awards in 1-minute clips and 12 languages.
The weeks of the campaign are:
19 - 23 September
3 - 7 October
17 - 21 October
31 October - 4 November
14 - 18 November
The clips will be visible at certain times on TV and on www.euronews.net during these weeks.
Is the EU's Europe 2020 strategy making a difference in your region? The Committee of the Regions has launched a survey to look at:
- The implementation of the Europe 2020 Flagship Initiatives
- National Reform Programmes
- Country Specific Recommendations
- Involvement of local and regional partners (including through Territorial Pacts and other multilevel governance tools)
Responses to the survey must be submitted by 3 October 2011.
The survey will feed into the Committee of the Regions second Europe 2020 monitoring report, which will be published in December 2011 as a contribution to the European Commission's 2012 Annual Growth Survey, just before the 2012 Spring European Council gives political guidance for the 2nd European Semester.
European Commissioner for Regional Policy Johannes Hahn proposes action plan for improved EU structural fund investments in Greece
European Commissioner for Regional Policy Johannes Hahn, today in Athens, concluded a seminar with all Greek Ministers responsible and regional governors to improve the investment of EU structural funds in Greece. Improving the uptake of EU co-funding is the key factor to create economic growth and improve competitiveness in Greece in the years ahead. An action plan was drawn up, which consists of two major pillars:
The drawing up of a list of viable and high quality projects, to invest in all Greek regions, in order to make maximal use of the remaining allocation until the end of this financial programming period in 2013 of around 15 billion Euro in EU funding from the European Regional Development Fund, European Social Fund and the Cohesion Fund. A list of some 100 projects to be carried out before the end of this year was presented on Wednesday, highlighting at least 5 high quality projects for each of the thirteen Greek regions. A final list of major projects to be implemented by the end of this funding period will be drawn up with the Greek authorities in the next ten days, with clear deadlines for all projects and showing who has responsibility. Proposed projects range from infrastructural investments in transport, energy and environment, to innovation, digital infrastructure, tourism, culture and the fostering of Small- and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs) as quick providers of new jobs. Regarding SMEs, the Commission is exploring the possibility to extend the scope of existing funds to offer guarantees to them on a temporary basis.
A major drive to reduce bureaucratic procedures in the application and handling of European co-funded projects. In the field of expropriation procedures the Greek authorities will table by the end of the year a legislative proposal to shorten and simplify procedures, to improve major infrastructural works, for instance in the field of transport. Regarding the licensing of environmental permits, by mid October a new law will enter into force to drastically shorten the assignment time of permits, by at least one year to a maximum of six months, with the sole responsibility of one authority ensuring a quicker handling of procedures. Commissioner Hahn will monitor this process personally and will visit Greece again before the end of this year. If required, further changes will be proposed.
The Task Force for Greece of the European Commission is closely involved. Among a wide range of its competencies linked to the implementing of reforms under the IMF/ECB programme the Task Force is also mandated to assist in this process of quicker uptake of EU funds. It will therefore undertake a further scrutiny of a broad range of procedures to reduce cumbersome and time consuming bureaucracy and assist Greece in implementing quickly the agreed projects.
The joint press conference in Athens by Commissioner Johannes Hahn and Michalis Chrysochoidis, Greek Minister for Regional Development and Competitiveness will be retransmitted via EbS today at 3 p.m.
Katowice Seminar showcasing Transnational Cooperation Programmes boosting Europe's regions, 15-16 September 2011
Participants in the 13 transnational cooperation programmes running under the ‘European Territorial Cooperation’ objective of EU Cohesion Policy will come together for the first time in Katowice, Poland on 15-16 September, and share their experiences, lessons learnt and best practices with with EU Commissioner for Regional Policy, Johannes HAHN and Polish Minister for Regional Development, Elżbieta BIEŃKOWSKA, amongst many other high-level representatives in EU Cohesion Policy.
The 600+ participants will have the chance to discuss the future of transnational cooperation, and inform policy-makers of the benefits they have seen in their own regions - in areas where other policies and levels of governance have not reached, and where the general quality of life has been improved.
The conference will last for two half-days and will focus on key themes and areas for action corresponding to the Europe 2020 objectives, such as:
- Environmental Risk Management
- Demographic Change
- Enlargement and cooperation with our neighbours
For more information visit: http://www.transnational-cooperation.eu/
The European Court of Auditors published on 13 September 2011 findings of their research on the effectiveness of EU investment in tourism, which is the third largest economic sector worldwide, and receives much EU support, specifically through the European Regional Development Fund. The results were most positive for the fund, concluding that:
- all of the projects examined provided positive results; either through lasting job creation (58%), creating tourism capacity (73 %) or activity (74 %); while nearly half had results in all three categories;
- projects were deemed sustainable, with 98% of projects ongoing at the time of the audit, and 94% of created or maintained jobs still stand; and
- the EU support was considered vital to 74% of projects, allowed modification to a further 20%; while only 6% of the projects would have gone ahead without EU investment.
The performance audit is based on a wide survey of projects in nine Member States encompassing 26 regions. The questions addressed by the audit were: Did the projects deliver the results expected of them? Are project results sustainable? Did the EU support influence the existence or the design of the projects?
To read the full report, click here
ESPON (the European Observation Network on Territorial Development and Cohesion) has launched Calls for Proposals to further enlarge its Evidence Base on the development of the European territory. Research institutes, universities, scientists, experts and academics from 31 countries are invited to submit proposals. The new Calls are expected to generate four applied research projects, five targeted analyses, six projects within the ESPON scientific platform and proposals for transnational networking activities up until the end of 2014.
ESPON calls for researchers and experts to send submissions and to get involved in the production of ESPON data to support an evidence-based and result-oriented implementation of EU Cohesion Policy. The available budget amounts to €7.417.176,09. The deadline for submitting proposals is 20 October 2011.
Info Day on Calls, 13 September 2011
Official Journal of the EU C 245 24 August 2011
Regional disparities in unemployment among the EU-27 regions remain high. One region in three has an unemployment rate above 10%, while four regions in five had to face an increase in unemployment rates between 2007 and 2010.
The highest rates are registered in regions of France (overseas departments) and Spain. Most of the 26 regions with unemployment rates over 15% can be found in these two, as well as in Slovakia and in the Baltic States. In contrast, 34 regions mainly located in Austria, Germany, northern Italy and the Netherlands have unemployment rates below 5%.
The regions in which the unemployment rates decreased the most between 2007 and 2010 are, with the exception of Corsica, German Landers. Unemployment rates dropped also in some regions of France, Poland, Austria and UK. On the other side, several regions in Spain, Ireland, Baltic States and Greece witnessed a substantial increase in the unemployment rates.
In 2006 the Member States, regional/local authorities, associations and public bodies were presented with a new instrument designed to overcome obstacles linked to cross-border, transnational and interregional cooperation. In a recent report, the European Commission has taken stock of this new tool: 16 EGTCs have been set up in Europe, and 21 are in preparation. For example, the first cross-border hospital, which will open its doors in 2012 at Puigcerd in Catalonia on the Franco-Spanish border, is the result of one such EGTC.
The EGTC makes it possible to simplify procedures and to remove institutional, legal and financial barriers which to date have managed to block cross-border development projects. It allows partners to form a single legal entity founded on a single set of rules to carry out common initiatives in several Member States.
The Senior Enterprise project is an initiative of the Transnational Territorial Cooperation Programme, “North West Europe.” Its purpose is to help those over 50 start businesses, invest in companies, consult with entrepreneurs and support innovation. At present, Ireland, the United Kingdom and France have signed on to the programme.
Call for papers “Multi-level governance and partnership in EU cohesion policy” - Vienna, Austria, 29-30 November 2011
The Regional Studies Association (RSA) has recently established a Research Network on “Effectiveness, Added Value and Future of EU Cohesion Policy”, bringing together academics researching the impact of cohesion policy, with practitioners working with the policy on the ground. The Network is now seeking contributions to its First Workshop on “Multi-level governance and partnership in EU cohesion policy”, due to take place at the Institute for European Integration Research (EIF) in Vienna, Austria on 29-30 November 2011.
The Network aims to promote dialogue and synergies between the two communities, and explore new research methods to contribute to the policy debate, through a series of workshops The first workshop in Vienna will look specifically at MLG and partnership in cohesion policy and how this works in different Member States, the added value of domestic interventions and ways to improve the partnership approach. Participation in the workshop is free.
More information: Multi-level governance and partnership in EU cohesion policy
To identify and target lagging regions, policy-makers require statistics to be produced at regional level. In many instances it is not possible simply to compare regional-level statistics produced by Member State national statistical offices as there is variation in the methods and assumptions used to produce them. Capital stock statistics at the national level have been available for most countries of the EU-27 for some time, but statistics at the regional level are absent for almost all countries. Where they do exist the methods used to produce them are not consistent across countries.
This paper assesses the feasibility of producing comparable estimates of the capital stock at NUTS 2 regional level for the EU-27 and makes some initial estimates. The paper outlines the method and data employed, and the techniques used to fill missing values. The approach is a Perpetual Inventory Method based on that outlined in the OECD Manual (2001; 2009) on capital estimation, and the data employed were taken from Eurostat or other publicly available sources wherever possible. The paper analyses the robustness of the capital stock estimates produced, as well as their impact on productivity analysis, and suggests how they can be improved in future updates.
The European Commission has agreed to measures that should make a significant contribution to getting some of the EU's most troubled economies back on track.
Under the proposal, six countries would be asked to contribute less to projects that they currently co-finance with the European Union. The Commission makes available for Greece, Ireland, Portugal, Romania, Latvia and Hungary, supplementary EU co financing, vital for growth and competitiveness-boosting projects in each one of these countries. As a result, they will have to find less national match-funding at a time when their domestic budgets are under considerable pressure and therefore programmes that have not been executed so far for lack of national funding may be launched and inject fresh money in the economy.
Proposal for a REGULATION OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL amending Council Regulation (EC) No 1083/2006 as regards certain provisions relating to financial management for certain Members States experiencing or threatened with serious difficulties with respect to their financial stability: COM(2011)482
EUREGIO III, an organisation supporting EU regions to maximise health gains through the effective use of EU Structural Funds for health and the reduction of health inequalities among EU regions has announced their 'Final Conference', to be held on 22 September 2011 in Brussels as a follow up to 5 recent workshops in Poland, Germany, Italy, United Kingdom and Brussels.
The training workshops aimed to develop knowledge and skills in the design, implementation and evaluatation of Structural Funds investments for health and to compare best practice between participating countries. The 'Final Conference' will review key findings of the project 'Learning lessons from health investments in Structural Funds' and their implications in the context of emerging EU policy and planning for the next period. The conference will also be a platform for discussion on the necessary actions to be taken at SF management and delivery levels to influence SF policy planning and implementation for the 2014-2020 period, at EU, national, regional and local levels.
For more information and online registration : EUREGIO III – Final conference
This Regional Focus contributes to the debate on the financial absorption of Structural Funds. It analyses the functioning of Structural Funds' financial execution and outlines the limitations in the use of financial indicators for assessing the implementation of Cohesion Policy on the ground. It shows that the long term trend of ERDF and ESF payments per capita is fairly stable considering the last 15 years of Cohesion Policy's implementation. This confirms the stability of Cohesion Policy's investments at aggregate level, with no gaps even in years characterized by the ending of a programming period and the beginning of a new one. The paper also examines the 2007-2013 dynamic up to 2010, with the identification of current challenges in financial execution.
The European Observation Network for Territorial Development and Cohesion (ESPON) invites you to an Info Day and Partner Café in Brussels on 13 September 2011. The purpose of the event is to inform and assist potential beneficiaries in preparing proposals for the upcoming ESPON Calls. The European Commission's DG Regio and the Polish EU Presidency will present the policy requirements underpinning the need for further ESPON results. The event will also give participants the chance to network, find partners for projects and get feedback.
The Info Day is suitable for all potential beneficiaries interested in learning more about this opportunity to take part in ESPON projects and to apply for funds through the ESPON 2013 Programme - scientists and experts representing universities, research institutes and private companies from 31 European countries (EU 27 + Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland).
Deadline for registration is 2 September 2011 at 15h00. Reserve your place by filling in the online form available here.
For programme details visit the ESPON website
Further information on the ESPON Calls for Proposals here
This Regional Focus analyses the regional Human Development Index (HDI) and Human Poverty Index (HPI) as published in the Fifth Cohesion Report (EC 2010). They are based on a slight variation of the methodology developed by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). Its shows that a high level of human development is no guarantee of a low level of human poverty or vice versa. Several regions combine a high level of human development with a high level of human poverty and or low development with low poverty. The Nordic Member States, Germany, Austria and the Netherlands have both a high level of human development and a low level of human poverty. Unfortunately many regions in Portugal, Spain, Italy, Greece, Romania, Bulgaria and Hungary scored poorly on both indices.
Transport is much more than just getting from one place to another: it is about the networks supported and developed by EU funds helping to shape economic growth, sustainability and access to vital services. In this edition of Panorama, we take a look at the whole picture from high-speed rail linking one country to another, to environmentally friendly urban transport systems.
The printed versions of the 5th report on cohesion (already available in German, English, French, Polish, Italian and Spanish) are now available in all EU languages. To order your copy, please send an email to : email@example.com
Regional policy is a key delivery mechanism for Europe 2020 and the Innovation Union. Investment in research, innovation and human capital is crucial for all regions, but regions start with different endowments and capabilities. There are potentially large gains from strategies that focus on competitive advantage exploiting global specialisation niches and strengthening a region's knowledge-based potential through targeted interventions. This publication sets out the key innovation tools relevant for regions. Regional diversity favours different routes to growth through innovation and specialisation and challenges policy-makers to develop the right policy mix adjusted to regional potentials and needs. All regions can gain from adopting a policy mix that develops their strengths and tackles their weaknesses, whether through knowledge generation or through its diffusion and absorption.
(06 July 2011) Online registration for the OPEN DAYS 2011 European Week of Regions and Cities gets underway today. Participation is free, with 111 specialist seminars to choose from 10-13 October. Registering for an event could not be simpler: the official website, includes details of all the seminars and workshops, speakers, dates and venues, as well as a step-by-step guide on how to apply.
The Polish Presidency of the Council of the European Union will run from 1 July - 31 December 2011.
The priorities of the Presidency include Cohesion Policy, particularly the negotiations on the legislative framework for the next programming period after 2014. Elzbieta Bienkowska, Poland's Minister of Regional Development, commented:
Poland, as a country rapidly closing the gap in economic and social development through efficient implementation of Cohesion Policy, has a special role to play at a time when post-crisis negotiations of the new financial perspective begin.
See the information brochure on Cohesion Policy and the Polish EU Presidency for further information about the Presidency's objectives, planned events and contact information.
A methodological note on outcome indicators and targets has been prepared by a team of academics and experts as part of the ongoing reflection on the future cohesion policy. In the context of a growing demand for more results oriented policy, this paper calls for methodological clarity and recommends use of appropriate indicators that capture progress and well-being of citizens rather than financial inputs. The note proposes a revised simplified logic of monitoring and evaluation system after 2013 and gives practical examples of outcome indicators linked to the EU2020 objectives.
The European Commission presented its proposals for a Multi-annual Financial Framework covering the period 2014-2020 on 29 June 2011.
The Commission proposes to allocate €376 billion for the 2014-2020 period for spending under cohesion policy instruments. This amount comprises:
- €162.6 billion for convergence regions,
- €38.9 billion for transition regions,
- €53.1 billion for competitiveness regions,
- €11.7 billion for territorial cooperation
- €68.7 billion for the Cohesion Fund
It also includes €40 billion for a new Connecting Europe facility designed to boost investment in transport, energy and information communication technologies.
The European Social Fund will represent at least 25% of the cohesion envelope, not taking into account the Connecting Europe facility, i.e. €84 billion.
The other main elements of the proposed Multi-annual Financial Framework in the area of cohesion policy are:
- Reinforced focus on results and effectiveness, with a systematic link between cohesion policy and the Europe 2020 strategy
- New conditionality provisions to ensure that funds are used to meet the Europe 2020 objectives, affecting both the initial allocation of funds and the release of additional funds
- The introduction of a new 'transition region' category including regions with a GDP per capita of 75-90% of the EU-27 average
- Measures to improve the absorption of funds by Member States
EU Commissioner for Regional Policy Johannes Hahn opened the European Union funded ‘Peace Bridge’ in Londonderry/Derry alongside the Irish Taoiseach and the heads of the Northern Ireland Executive.
The Peace Bridge has been awarded £14,677,823 from the European Union’s PEACE III Programme, managed by the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB), and is considered as one of the EU's flagship projects in a region that Commissioner Hahn described as a 'beacon of hope for conflict zones around the world'. The funding for the iconic bridge represents a contribution from the European Regional Development Fund, the Northern Ireland Executive and from the Irish Government.
The Regional Studies Association is currently looking for submissions of academic abstracts (circa 400 words) for its one-day winter conference, 'Contested Regions: Territorial Politics and Policy', on Friday 25th November 2011 in London. The conference will act as a forum for discussion and debate on recent developments and trends in the field and the key areas for further research. It will look at the emergence of territorial conflicts, contests and struggles around such notions as identity, sovereignty, borders legitimacy and democracy. Contributors will consider the newest forms of intra-regional disparities and dispute, deepened by the accelerating processes of global economic integration with geographical differentiation and rapid urbanisation. The challenges posed by such global trends will be analysed with the aid of international examples.
Submissions should focus primarily, though not exclusively on the following themes:
Remapping of regions and localities and the implications of this for multilevel governance, policy success or policy failure;
Global comparative perspectives on models of regional and metropolitan governance;
New sites and forms of regional conflict: inter-regional, intra- regional, and in-between regional;
The role of territorial politics in regional strategies for economic development and state redistribution;
Cooperation, disputes and political struggles around borders /boundaries/ sovereignty;
The politics of local and regional infrastructures; models and practices of decentralisation and the impacts of this on territorial justice
The deadline for submission of abstracts is Monday, 4th July 2011.
More information on the conference is available at the following web address :
Sustainable growth is one of the three main pillars of the new 'Europe 2020' strategy. The brochure sets out the how EU's regions and cities can exploit the opportunities offered by Cohesion Policy to boost local and regional sustainable growth. A number of good practice examples provide practical support and underline the potential of the low-carbon and resource efficient economy to provide jobs, growth and preserve the environment and resources.
Johannes Hahn, European Commissioner for Regional Policy, and the President of the RegioStars Jury Ann Mettler, executive director of the Brussels think thank Lisbon Council, announced yesterday evening the winners of the "RegioStars Awards" 2011. The prize giving ceremony recognised the most innovative projects that have been supported by European Regional Policy. Madeira and the Azores in Portugal, Amsterdam in the Netherlands, Northern Mid Sweden, Wales in the UK were at centre stage. Municipalities in the Northern peripheral regions of Finland, Sweden, Norway, Iceland and the Faroe Islands were also winners thanks to a territorial cooperation project.
European Commissioner for Regional Policy Johannes Hahn, today welcomed two developments that demonstrate the progress being made in the EU's policy for Macro-Regional Strategies. Positive outcomes on the ground are evident in the new progress report on the implementation of the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region, the first of its kind, launched in 2009. Also today, the Heads of State and Government gave their endorsement to the EU Strategy for the Danube Region, adopted by the Commission last December. Some 15 Member States benefit from these new cooperative approaches. The political commitment of stakeholders at all levels is vital to the success of both strategies.
On Thursday 23 June, Regional Policy Commissioner Johannes Hahn will open the annual "Regions for Economic Change" conference. The two-day event will gather in Brussels more than 500 representatives from Europe's regions. Drawing on the recent Commission communications on smart and sustainable growth this year's edition of the Regions for Economic Change conference will explore tools and networks for smart and sustainable cities and regions and highlight excellent projects and initiatives that demonstrate the key contribution of regional policy to economic modernisation and the Europe 2020 goals. One of the highlights of the event will be the announcement on Thursday evening of the winners of the 2011 'RegioStars' Awards, celebrating the most inspiring and innovative projects funded by the EU's regional policy.
The Regional Studies Association (RSA) will organise a conference on localism on 3 November 2011 in Manchester in the United Kingdom. Localism and regionalism tend to be seen as conflicting and competing conceptions of territorial organisation. Nevertheless, many successful economies around the world have strong local government structures which are complemented by regional structures.
The conference is open to all: academics, policy makers and practitioners. Early career researchers are especially encouraged to attend the conference and use this opportunity to present their work.
Papers are welcomed on a number of themes. More details can be found at: www.regional-studies-assoc.ac.uk
If you have implemented an innovative project in line with the Europe 2020 strategy and you want to showcase it, you have 1 month to meet the 15 July closing date for submitting applications.
The categories for the 2012 RegioStars awards deal with service innovation, sustainable development, demographic change, urban development and informing the public about EU supported projects. Visit the RegioStars 2012 website to download the application forms and guide.
10 practical tips for winning an award in 2012 are available on the RegioNetwork 2020 website. RegioNetwork is a collaborative platform for representatives of European regions and other people who have an interest in EU regional policy. You will need to log in (or create an account if you don't already have one), then join the group called "Regions for Economic Change" in order to access the practical tips for the 2012 RegioStars awards.
The RegioStars 2011 award ceremony will be held in Brussels on 23 June 2011. This year, projects submitted by 31 finalists will be competing for the six prizes.
The Directorate-General for Regional Policy, European Commission, and the Regional Studies Association invite early career researchers in European regional policy to present their research in the form of a poster at OPEN DAYS 2011, the European Week of Cities and Regions (10th - 13thOctober). The overall winner will get €750 and the first runner-up will get €250.
The Competition takes place in two stages:
- Stage One: Submission of a 1000 word (max) abstract and a current CV to firstname.lastname@example.org before the 28th May 2011
- Stage Two: The Competition Jury will shortlist finalists by 31st May 2011. Finalists will be invited to prepare a poster and to be prepared to take questions on their poster from the Competition Jury.
Further details are available at http://www.regional-studies-assoc.ac.uk/events/future.asp (see "Call for Papers ").
For more information on OPEN DAYS, please see the OPEN DAYS website
The Danube, Europe’s second longest river at around 2 850 km, links the Black Forest to the Black Sea and runs through ten countries, with four more in its basin. Hydro-electric power stations, a Pan-European transport corridor and home to some of Europe’s rarest species – the pressures placed on the river are often conflicting and the Region's political changes have had their impact on how challenges are met.
Are you implementing an innovative project and do you want to showcase it as an example of its kind in Europe? Are you in charge of a project geared to innovation, sustainable development, demographic change or urban development? Have you created a website that tells the general public all about projects supported by the European Union’s regional policy? If so, you are invited to visit the RegioStars 2012 website in order to download the application forms and be in with a chance of winning a prize for your region.
“RegioStars – The Awards for Regional Innovative Projects” were launched in 2007. Each year they single out and reward innovative projects receiving support as part of the EU’s regional policy. Applications have to be submitted by the (national or regional) managing authority in cooperation with the project partner. The official closing date for submitting applications is 15 July 2011.
The RegioStars 2011 award ceremony will be held in Brussels on 23 June next. This year, the projects of 31 finalists will be competing for the top prize.
The conference of European Ministers responsible for cohesion policy was held in Gödöllő, near Budapest, Hungary on 20 May. The Hungarian Presidency of the European Union published the conclusions of the discussions. Member States called for a post-2013 cohesion policy that is result-oriented and consistent with the goals of the Europe 2020 strategy. Also discussed were the Commission's proposals regarding conditions and incentives that could be introduced to make the policy more effective.
These are the last debates before the Commission issues its formal legislative proposals on future cohesion policy, which will follow its proposals regarding the future financial framework of the Union.
The Directorate-General for Regional Policy of the European Commission produces a range of publications each year, which aim to inform stakeholders and citizens about regional policy.
We would very much appreciate your feedback on the Inforegio Panorama magazine, which is published four times a year, in order to make sure that this magazine responds to your needs and therefore we ask you to take a few minutes to fill in this questionnaire.
The survey will be available on line until May 31.
The OPENCities project is part of the European URBACT programme; its final conference was held in Brussels on May 25th. Research carried out for this project has shown that cities can gain a competitive advantage by being open to migration in recessionary periods. OPENCities has developed a unique tool to measure the openness of cities and share best practice through a partner network. The ‘Monitor’ is based on 54 internationally comparable indicators and presently includes 26 cities.
Nine European cities participating in the project – Belfast, Bilbao, Cardiff, Dusseldorf, Dublin, Nitra, Poznan, Sofia and Vienna – hope to further apply the results of this research and have just presented their local action plans to increase their openness.
The URBACT network is funded by the European Union and brings together nearly 300 cities. Its objective is to promote the exchange of knowledge and best practice in urban development.
Registration is now open for the ‘Regions for Economic Change’ conference to be held 23-24 June in Brussels. This year’s conference is entitled ‘Fostering smart and sustainable growth in cities and regions’. The workshops will pay particular attention to the question of smart specialisation and its implications for regional development. The Commission will use this event to launch the ‘smart specialisation platform’ to help regions develop their strategies in this field and take stock of their needs and strong points.
On 23 June, the Commission will reveal the RegioStars 2011 winners, awarding Europe’s most innovative projects having benefited from European regional policy support.
The ‘Regions for Economic Change’ initiative was launched in 2006 and aims to promote the exchange of good practices. It looks to present new approaches to stimulating regional and urban networks by helping them work in close cooperation with the Commission and experiment with innovative ideas. The goal is to then ensure the rapid transfer of these ideas into cohesion policy programmes. The initiative includes communication activities such as a website, a database of case studies and the RegioStars awards.
The first meeting of the year between the Commission's Regional Policy's department (DG REGIO) and representatives from regional offices in Brussels takes place on 17 May. EU Regional Policy Commissioner Johannes Hahn will present his point of view on the preparations for the new legislative framework for Cohesion policy post 2013. This will be followed by an open floor discussion. Registration for this event has now closed but you can follow proceedings live here on the web from 10h00 to 12h00 in English, French and German.
With 444 contributions received between 12th November 2010 and 31st January 2011, the public consultation on the Conclusions of the 5th Cohesion Report was a real success, allowing hundreds of contributors to express their views on the future of Cohesion Policy. The contributions were received from many different groups, including Member States, economic and social partners, regional and local authorities as well as citizens, European interest organisations on territorial issues, private companies and civil society organisations. A Staff Working Document, and a citizen summary presenting the results of the public consultation were published on 13 May 2011.
Contributors expressed their views on ways to enhance the added value of cohesion policy, as well as on ways to strengthen governance and to streamline the delivery system of cohesion policy. Respondents also gave their opinions on the future architecture of cohesion policy for the next programming period.
The Japan nuclear disaster and the recent unrest in the Arab world might change the energy policies in Europe. According to the International Energy Agency, Europe receives over 85% of Libya’s crude-oil exports. Therefore, oriented policies towards clean energy supplies and sustainable energy sources become more and more urgent. ESPON provides policy makers with detailed knowledge on the development of the European territory; this is clearly reflected in the recently released ESPON ReRisk (Regions at Risk of Energy Poverty) Final Report, which puts the results of the project into an interesting policy perspective.
Speaking to the ESPON Coordination Unit, policy makers emphasized the ways they can make use of the findings from the ReRisk Project while scientists highlighted evidence and scenarios on the impact of rising energy prices. Read the interview at the ESPON Website.
Many EU regions will be celebrating Europe Day on 9 May.
Europe Day marks the declaration made by French Foreign Minister Robert Schuman in 1950 calling on France, Germany and other European countries to pool their coal and steel production. The Schuman Declaration launched the process of European integration that lies behind today's European Union.
Here are just a few examples of the many activities that will be taking place across Europe to highlight the positive impact of EU regional funding.
- Visits of 40 EU-funded projects in Brussels and Wallonia will be organised during the 7-8 May weekend (Sur la piste de l'Europe).
- The Toujours Plus Haut website presents information about more than 1000 projects in Brussels and Wallonia that have benefited from EU funding.
- West Flanders will be organising a special event Europa, beleef het in je buurt! on 22 May.
- Poitou-Charentes has produced a video clip featuring beneficiaries of EU Structural Funds chosen from amongst over 30,000 projects funded in the region since 2007. The clip will be broadcast on France 3 Poitou-Charentes and made available on various web platforms.
- Strasbourg and several other towns in the French region of Alsace will be organising events during May 2011 – the region's first 'Mois de l'Europe'.
- The Midi-Pyrenées region is also organising over 60 different events under the heading 'Joli Mois de l'Europe'.
- Burgundy will be organising sports activities, including the possibility to take part in a bike ride visiting EU-funded projects (Bourgogne – la region fête l'Europe)
- A full list of the events taking place in France is available on the web portal l'Europe s'engage en France.
- 5-16 May will be Europe week in Saarland, with a particular focus on the role of young people in the EU.
- Berlin will be highlighting the role of EU funding in promoting innovation, under the heading Europa ist hier – Innovationswege Berlin 2011.
- Brandenburg is organising the Europawoche 2011, including events on vocational training, anti-discrimination, migration policy and urban issues.
- Projects open their doors for the public during the Europa Kijkdagen in the the Netherlands: http://www.europaomdehoek.nl/kijkdagen
- Portugal is organising a national information campaign highlighting projects that have benefited from EU regional funding. The campaign will feature two video clips and postcards that will be distributed at universities, theatres, restaurants, bars etc… during the first half of May.
- A Forum on EU regional funding will take place in Warsaw on 6-7 May 2011. The event will feature project presentations, competitions and entertainment.
This report has analysed a wide range of governance indicators and shows that a significant number of EU Member States score poorly on all of these indicators. Poor governance undermines social and economic development and can reduce the impact of Cohesion Policy. For example, poor governance can hinder economic growth, damage the environment or reduce personal safety and well-being. The report concludes that four issues are particularly relevant for the EU: 1) corruption, 2) rule of law, 3) government effectiveness and 4) voice and accountability. This study is the first to measure the quality of government in the EU at the regional level. It is based on the largest multi-country, regional quality of government survey to date. This survey shows that several Member States are confronted with a large internal variation in the perceptions of quality of government. The report concludes with ten case studies which provide insight into how regional quality of government can be enhanced. This study was financed by the European Commission. Nevertheless, the study represents solely the views of its authors and cannot in any circumstances be regarded as the official position of the Commission.
The European Commission is making some changes to its website on EU regional policy, taking into account feedback from users of the site.
A new version of the Inforegio website was launched in English, French and German on 29 April. This includes the following improvements:
- Updated presentation of EU regional policy
- New 'information sources' section (publications, analysis, videos, photos, maps, legal texts)
- Clearer navigation and organisation of content
- Search engine
We will be making as much content as possible available in 22 EU languages as soon as possible. However, due to translation constraints and the fact that certain items (eg news) are time sensitive, some information will only be available in a limited number of languages.
Further improvements to the website are planned during the course of 2011 (including the pages presenting information about the implementation of EU funding in each region).
Please note that you may come across some outdated content and/or broken links while we are archiving the old web pages.
If you have any comments or suggestions for improving the Inforegio website, please contact the European Commission's DG for Regional Policy.
A High Level Event on the better use of Structural Funds for the integration of Roma will take place in Slovakia on 23-25 May 2011. The High Level Event will consist of a national conference in Bratislava (23 May), field visits (24 May), and a High Level regional conference on 25 May. These events will bring together representatives of the EU institutions, national, regional and local authorities as well as civil society. The aim is to discuss how Slovakia can use EU funds more effectively and exchange experiences for improving the socio-economic situation of the Roma. The inclusion of marginalised Roma communities can significantly contribute to the economic growth of Slovakia. This event in Slovakia follows on from similar High Level Events in Hungary (2009) and Romania (2010).
The European Grouping of Territorial Cooperation (EGTC) of the Pyrenees-Mediterranean Euroregion has introduced the CreaMed project to support business networks and incubators in the Pyrenees-Mediterranean Euroregion (Catalonia, Balearic Islands, Midi-Pyrenees and Languedoc-Roussillon).
‘The data shows that companies are 20 to 30% more likely to survive if they develop as clusters’, states Antònia Sabartes, Secretary General of the Pyrenees-Mediterranean Euroregion.
A grant of €1.1 million has been extended to the project by territorial cooperation program INTERREG IVB SUDOE. Project partners are the Generalitat of Catalonia Labour Department, Balearic Islands ParcBit Technology Centre, the Languedoc-Roussillon Synersud Network and the Midi-Pyrenees Business Incubator Network.
An innovative instrument mobilised in a project area
‘The CreaMed project shows that our EGTC is able to motivate leaders in the Euroregion to become involved in making a direct local contribution to EU2020 strategy’ concludes Philippe Mestre, Director of the Pyrenees-Mediterranean EGTC.
The gap between the richest and poorest EU regions has narrowed since 2000, according to the latest GDP per head figures (2008).
The GDP per head map shows the situation in each of the EU's 271 so-called NUTS regions (Nomenclature of Territorial Units for Statistics) relative to the EU average.
In 2008, 64 regions had a GDP per head below 75% of the EU average. This represents 119 million people, compared with 131 million people in 69 regions in 2000.
High growth rates in less developed regions have helped them to narrow the gap with the EU average since 2000.
A new section has just been created on the site of the Commissioner for regional policy, Johannes Hahn. The aim is for people to discover a European region each week, including its profile, priorities and the contribution made by regional policy. Project examples are used to illustrate how Europe supports its 271 regions on the ground.
Vorarlberg (Austria), Wallonia (Belgium) and Puglia (Italy) have launched this new section. Regions wanting to showcase their results are invited to write to email@example.com
206 regions and cities from 27 Member States and eight third countries will take part in OPEN DAYS 2011, the European Week of Regions and Cities. Organised in 23 regional partnerships, they will contribute with 24 workshops to the complete programme of more than 100 seminars taking place between 10 and 13 October 2011. In addition, the EU Committee of the Regions will host some 35 workshops in the framework of the Meeting Place, most of which focusing on public-private partnerships.
Despite their distance from mainland Europe, the outermost regions of the EU are still an integral part of the single market – and have all the rights and responsibilities that go along with that status.
Are the outermost regions well served by EU policies relating to the single market? Tell the European Commission what you think by participating in the public consultation that has been launched (deadline for responses 15 May 2011).
The Commission has just presented an EU-wide framework for national strategies on integrating Roma. The framework will serve as the basis for national policies concerning Roma and will contribute to mobilising European funds available for this.
The Member States will be required to present their national strategies before the end of 2011, including clear objectives to be achieved in the areas of education, employment, health and housing. They are also invited to adapt their operational programmes co-financed by the Structural Funds in order to provide strength to the projects targeting the Roma population.
The European Commission will be holding a high level meeting 23-25 May this year in Slovakia (Bratislava and Kosice) on the contribution made by European funds to Roma integration. This event follows on from the 2008 European Roma Summit held in Brussels and other similar events organised in Hungary in 2009 and Romania in 2010.
For more information:
From March 31 to April 1, the members of the European Commission's Northern Ireland Task Force visited Belfast to discuss with the Northern Ireland departments their priorities for the future. This is a second phase in the work of the Task Force which was set up by Commission President José Manuel Barroso in 2007 and is led by Commissioner Johannes Hahn responsible for Regional Policy.
In the first phase, the Task Force took stock of Northern Ireland's economic development amid peace and stability, and pointed out leads for new ways in which the region could boost its modernisation.
On 16-18 March the European Commission, in partnership with the Regional Studies Association (RSA) and the Slovenian Government, organised a conference at Bled in Slovenia on the theme of "What Future for Cohesion Policy? An Academic and Policy Debate". A full set of conference analyses and presentations is available on the RSA website.
The conference offered a platform for exchanges between academics, specialists in regional issues and European Commission representatives. The Commission’s recent proposals – contained in the report on economic, social and territorial cohesion – provided input for the debates.
In Budapest on 31 March, Commissioner Hahn will participate in a high-level conference on cohesion policy organised by the Hungarian Presidency of the EU. He will focus on the achievements of this important development policy for the 271 European regions and its future architecture after 2013. As this debate is entering its final stage, he will reiterate the wish of the Commission for a more result-oriented policy in the future.
The politicians, experts from Member States and academics who attend the Budapest conference will discuss specific aspects of the Commission's proposals on the future policy (results-orientation and thematic concentration), with a view to the Ministerial meeting which will take place in Gödöllő (Hungary) on 19-21 May 2011.
The printed versions of the 5th report on cohesion (already available in German, English and French) are now available in Spanish, Italian and Polish. To order your copy, send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The report will be available in 16 other languages in electronic format in mid-April, and in printed format in May.
DG REGIO hosted a workshop entitled "The geography of economic growth: theory, evidence and policy implications" on 22 March 2011. Academics from across Europe discussed the importance of agglomeration and externalities as well as policy instruments to better understand how economic growth, competitiveness and trade have important spatial effects.
The papers are published: The Geography of Economic Growth
Commissioner Hahn made himself available on 21 March from 3-4pm (Brussels time) to chat on-line about future EU cohesion policy. This live web chat formed part of the broader consultation process launched by the European Commission's Fifth Cohesion Report.
The web chat took place on the RegioNetwork 2020 website, the on-line networking platform for European regions and others who have a professional interest in EU regional policy.
The transcript of the web chat is available on RegioNetwork (or see this pdf document).
Commissioner Johannes Hahn confirmed the Commission's proposal to allocate aid totalling €10.9 million to the Czech Republic, following the severe floods of August 2010. The grant is being made available through the European Union Solidarity Fund (EUSF). It will contribute towards the costs borne by public authorities in response to the emergency, in particular for restoring essential infrastructure.
The aim of this online survey by the Committee of the Regions (launched during the 6th Territorial Dialogue, 22 February 2011) is to review the socio-economic situation in the EU's regions and cities during the crisis and to provide a further assessment by local and regional authorities of the anti-crisis measures adopted with the assistance of the European Union.
The results of this survey will be used as a basis for contributions to the debate on the need for anti-crisis measures, better spending of EU, national, regional and local financial resources, and on the effectiveness of Europe 2020 as an exit strategy. Last but not least they will give a snapshot of the current situation in regions and cities on the eve of the discussion on the Multiannual Financial Framework 2014-2020.
The survey will run until 18 April 2011.
Do you have a question or comment about the way EU cohesion policy should be organised in the future? Where should be resources be targeted? What should be the priorities? How can we monitor progress?
Commissioner Hahn will be making himself available on 21 March from 3-4pm (Brussels time) to chat on-line about future EU cohesion policy. This live web chat will form part of the broader consultation process launched by the European Commission's Fifth Cohesion Report.
If you would like to follow or participate in the web chat with Commissioner Hahn, all you need to do is:
- Create a profile on the RegioNetwork 2020 website
- Login to the site on 21 March at 3pm (Brussels time)
- Join the web chat and post your questions or comments
RegioStars – the awards for innovative projects - is an annual event to recognise and reward innovative projects supported by EU regional policy. The RegioStars 2011 Jury, with Ms Ann Mettler as its President, has now chosen 31 finalists across the five categories. The 2011 scheme has seen 66 applications from project promoters and regions from 18 Member States for the awards on offer under RegioStars or CityStar categories. The finalists are listed and described in this brochure.
The award winners will be announced at the Regions for Economic Change conference on 23 June 2011.
This year for the first time an online public vote is being launched in the "Photo" category.
The call for the 2012 RegioStars Awards nominees is now open with a deadline of 15 July 2011.
ESPON, the European Observation Network for Territorial Development and Cohesion, supports policy development related to EU Cohesion Policy.
The ESPON Programme organises its first High Level Conference on 11 May 2011 in Brussels (Belgium).
The Conference will discuss the use of territorial evidence in practice on the basis of the experiences with Targeted Analysis for Stakeholders. At the event key policymakers in the field of Territorial Development and Cohesion will be present, amongst whom Mr. Johannes Hahn, EU Commissioner for Regional Policy, and Mr. Claude Wiseler, Luxembourg Minister for Sustainable Development and Infrastructures.
The objective of the Conference is to bring European policymakers and Stakeholders involved in ESPON Targeted Analyses at national, regional and local level together with the purpose of:
- Exchanging experiences on added value and use of evidence provided by Targeted Analyses
- Pinning down future needs for evidence in support of an effective implementation of EU Cohesion Policy post 2013
Reserve your place by filling in the online form. The registration will close as from 29 April 2011. More info at the ESPON Website.
Just a few weeks ago, it took nearly half a day to travel from Madrid to Valencia, Spain. The trip now takes just one and a half hours via AVE high-speed rail on a new line built with European Union support.
The ribbon-cutting for the new line was held last December with King of Spain Juan Carlos and Prime Minister José Luis Zapatero in attendance. The construction project generated numerous jobs and helped boost the economy during the crisis.
Total EU investment for high-speed lines in Madrid, Castile-La Mancha, and the Valencia and Murcia regions (€ Millions) : 2000-2006 Period 747.3 Cohesion Fund 574.6 European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) 124.5 Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T) 48.2 2007-2013 Period 1 202 Cohesion Fund 726 ERDF 476
EU regional funding helps to promote equal opportunities between women and men.
The rules underpinning the EU's Cohesion Funds include a clause on gender equality and non-discrimination, as well as a requirement that Member States should involve bodies responsible for promoting equality between women and men in the programming of the funds.
Support is available, for example, for projects that support female entrepreneurship. Several EU countries are using EU regional funding to improve the availability of childcare, in order to make it easier for women to access the labour market.
Here are some examples of projects that receive EU funding:
Micro-Finance Institute (Sweden)
Set up in 2008, this project focuses on improving access to finance for migrant women who often face difficulties in trying to secure capital to start-up or develop their own business. The main aim of the project was to establish a permanent micro-finance institute to help overcome these barriers. So far the project has supported 80 new female entrepreneurs and contributed to the start-up of 15 micro-enterprises, creating 20 jobs.
Launch pad for successful women entrepreneurs (Romania)
A multi-regional Romanian project aims to develop the entrepreneurial skills of 400 women and enhance their employability. Women from Bucharest, Giurgiu, Oradea and Slatina will undergo an intensive course to facilitate their insertion, maintenance and progress on the labour market in accordance with the principle of equal opportunities for men and women.
Women in business (Denmark, Sweden, Norway)
Female entrepreneurs in three Nordic countries have joined forces to boost women-led small and medium-sized companies. Their aim is to strengthen the competitive conditions for the Kattegat/Skagerrak region through innovation, development and viable growth.
All-day child care facilities (Austria)
The “Pfifferlingsplatz” Association was established in 2005 with the aim of implementing an all-day childcare facility in the rural area of Salzburg. In association with the company “Sport & more Unterwurzacher GmbH”, a small-sized company in the tourist sector and mainly employing women, Pfifferlingsplatz provides childcare for the mothers employed in the company.
In 2008, GDP per inhabitant ranged from 28% of the EU27 average in Severozapaden in Bulgaria to 343% in Inner London. This information is taken from data released by Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union.
To determine which regions will be categorised as "less developed" under cohesion policy after 2013, the Commission is expected to use the GDP averages for 2007-2009.
Commissioner Hahn met the Finnish Prime Minister, other members of the Finnish Government and the Mayors of Finland's biggest cities during his visit to the country on 25-27 February 2011.
The themes covered at the meetings included the support that Finland receives from the European Regional Development Fund, as well as the Commission's proposals for the future of EU Cohesion Policy.
Finland has been allocated €1.7 billion in EU Cohesion Policy funding for the period 2007-2013. Priorities include:
- €448 million to tackle long-term unemployment and encourage young people to stay in education
- €443 million to help businesses, particularly SMEs, adapt to structural challenges such as an ageing workforce and globalisation
- €380 million to promote adult training and develop employment services
One successful example of EU cohesion funding in Finland is the Lahti Cleantech Cluster in southern Finland, which has helped to transform Lahti into Finland's leading environmental technology centre.
Johannes Hahn, European Commissioner for Regional Policy, confirmed the Commission's proposal to allocate aid totalling €8.6 million to Slovenia and Croatia, following the devastation caused by flooding in September 2010. This aid will be used to repay the cost of emergency measures such as relief operations, cleaning up the affected areas and repair of basic infrastructure.
The European Commission and Slovak authorities have launched a Joint Road Map (JRM) to facilitate the implementation of the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and Cohesion Fund (CF) in Slovakia. The outline of the Roadmap was agreed by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Transport, Construction and Regional Development of the Slovak Republic, Ján Figeľ and EU Commissioner for Regional Policy, Johannes Hahn, in Bratislava in November 2010. The final framework sets out a joint approach to ensure a timely absorption and effective implementation of the ERDF and CF programmes in Slovakia. The Joint Road Map is an example of good practice in terms of collaboration between the European Commission and the Slovak authorities.
In order to develop the huge economic potential of the Danube river, the European Commission has end 2010 proposed an overarching Strategy for the Danube Region, which covers eight EU Member States and six other European countries. This Strategy will focus on concrete priority action areas, such as the improvement of navigability, water quality, security cooperation and the opportunities for tourism. To realise the Strategy on the ground, Commissioner for Regional Policy, Johannes Hahn and Hungarian Foreign Minister János Martonyi, have recently announced which countries and regions will lead priority areas of work. They will drive implementation of the Strategy by agreeing a work programme and identifying sources of finance with other countries involved and partners like non-governmental organisations. Eleven priority areas have been identified.
The Cohesion Forum which recently drew to a close highlighted the need to align future cohesion policy investments with the Europe 2020 strategy. Brandenburg (Germany), Wales (United Kingdom) and Lithuania stand out as regions that have already carried out projects clearly on track to achieving these objectives. During a ceremony held on 31 January as part of the Forum, European Commission President José Manuel Barroso awarded the 'regions of excellence' prize to their representatives.
The regions awarded were selected from among those with the most finalist projects in the RegioStars Awards programme since 2008.
The 2011 RegioStars finalists will be revealed at the end of February.
Cohesion policy is set to feature prominently in the programme of the Hungarian EU Presidency, which runs from January – June 2011.
The first half of this year will see several important meetings designed to prepare the future cohesion policy after 2013. These will include:
- Cohesion Forum, 31 January – 1 February 2011
- Conference on the future cohesion policy, 31 March-1 April 2011
- Informal Ministerial meeting, Gödöllő, 19-20 May 2011
The role of territorial cohesion will also come under the spotlight at several events:
- Meeting of the network of Territorial cohesion contact points, Budapest, 9 February
- Meeting of the director generals in charge of territorial cohesion, Budapest, 29 March
- Informal meeting of minister responsible for territorial cohesion, Gödöllő, 19-20 May
Given Hungary's geographical location, it is only natural that the EU's recently-adopted Danube Strategy to promote growth and quality of life in the region should be a priority for the Presidency. Events focusing on different aspects of the Strategy will bring together governmental and non-governmental representatives:
- A thematic conference on water management issues organised in coordination with the Hungarian presidency and stakeholders (date to be confirmed)
- The Hungarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry is planning a region-wide event (date to be confirmed) with special focus on the inclusion of the Western Balkans with participation of high-level decision-makers from the EU and Member States.
- Conference on 'Europe-Danube-Water Innovation and sustainability', 4-7 May, Budapest municipality
- Conference is scheduled for national parliaments in Serbia, Novisad in March-April.
- Croatia organises a 'Danube Culture and Tourism Day" in Vukovar in summer 2011.
The European Commission presented a communication setting out the role of the EU's regional policy in contributing to the implementation of the 'Europe 2020' strategy, in particular to its newly adopted flagship initiative on 'Resource Efficient Europe'. This document provides recommendations for Member States - responsible for managing the regional funds - on how best to harness EU investment to achieve a low carbon, resource efficient, climate resilient and competitive economy.
Presentation of the communication by Commissioner Johannes Hahn :
More Information :
Long-term factors shaping the prospects for cities and regions include the effects of climate change, population ageing, globalisation and technological change. A conference at the University of Newcastle (UK) on 17-20 April will look at how local and regional actors are addressing these challenges, particularly in the context of the economic crisis and austerity policies. The deadline for submitting papers is 31 January 2011.
The European Commission has invited top policy-makers from the 27 Member States to Brussels for the Fifth Cohesion Forum on January 31st and February 1st . The event will mark the end of the public consultation begun in November on cohesion policy after 2013. The 800 participants expected at the forum will discuss future policy directions and their important role in the implementation of the ‘Europe 2020’ strategy.
This year’s forum will be the last opportunity for Member States and regions to make their voices heard before the European Commission presents its first legislative proposals on the future of cohesion policy, due out by summer, 2011.
Click on the link below to follow the debates live beginning at 11:00 a.m. on Monday, January 31st.
The latest edition of the European Commission's Panorama magazine on regional policy is out now!
Highlights of this 36th edition include:
- Information and examples about the way regional policy is supporting the Europe 2020 strategy for growth and jobs
- The impact of regional policy and options for the future
- Helping less advantaged regions to catch up
- Beyond GDP: new ways of measuring economic and social progress
Panorama n°36 also includes a quiz, so that you can test your knowledge of EU regional policy!
DG REGIO has recently rebranded the Case Studies Database under the Regions for Economic change initiative as a Policy Learning Database. The database is now expanding to allow targeted searched of around 100 ex-post evaluation reports on specific regional experiences. These studies cover strategies in areas such as structural change and globalisation, transport, environment and climate change and demographic change and gender.
We have also now added three specific case studies from Manheim (DE), Northern Ireland and the West Midlands (UK) dealing respectively with three schemes helping entrepreneurs of Turkish descent, supporting a conflict resolution network in Belfast and funding a regional University network dedicated to technology transfer to small businesses.
A study which compares aspects of regional policy in China with cohesion policy in the European Union – financed by the Commission under its EU-China Policy Dialogues Support Facility - was carried out in 2008-2010. The study concerns practical aspects of policy-making and regional development. It concentrates, in particular on: the definition and economic classification of regions; the governance and co-ordination of regional policy; and the role of regional policy in improving competitiveness, sustainable development and urban and rural development. As illustrations, the study report describes examples of best practice in these subject areas in China and the EU.
The conclusions of the European part of the study cover a number of key dimensions of EU regional policy, with an analysis informed by experience in China. In terms of the fundamental mission of EU regional policy, the authors believe that one way the Union could learn from China is by defining a limited number of clear objectives. It calls into question the "binary" or "in-out" aspect of EU regional policy created by the use of the 75% threshold for eligibility for priority support based on GDP per head.
In terms of implementation, the report expresses doubts about strict "use it or lose it" approaches to financial management suggesting, instead, a greater focus on ways to help regions develop the capacity for making more rapid and more effective development expenditures. Finally, the report warn against the development of "counter bureaucracy", which results from a drawn-out process of incremental reforms that lack an overall strategy or purpose. This creeping counter bureaucracy is seen as existing in the changes that have been introduced over time in EU auditing and evaluation procedures.
ESPON, the European Observation Network for Territorial Development and Cohesion, releases the final report of the project ReRisk which focuses on opportunities to support competitive and clean energy supplies for regions in Europe and to generate and strengthen sustainable energy sources. It delivers future-oriented territorial evidence and scenarios on the impact of rising energy prices on the competitiveness of European regions as well as on cohesion in Europe in a long-term perspective.
The ReRisk Final Report, its maps and all background documents are available at the ESPON Website.
None of Europe’s cities were left unscathed by the crisis that struck here in 2009 and 2010. The URBACT Network has just released a study in which various European cities share their experiences of the crisis. Included are the results of a survey of member cities of the network, along with a series of case studies examining the responses developed by some cities to deal with the crisis.
Further information: URBACT cities facing the crisis
Service innovations are an important driver for competitiveness, growth and job creation. Many service innovations have the transformative power of fundamentally changing existing business relations and creating new markets or even entirely new sectors, most often driven by the use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT). A conference in Warsaw on 27-28 January 2011 will look at good practice and assess how EU Structural Funds can be used to promote innovation in services.
Almost a third of the EU population lives in cross-border areas.
At a conference in Budapest on 9-10 December 2010, an agreement to create a new European platform to support cross-border cooperation was signed by representatives of the following organisations:
- Mission Opération Transfrontalière (France)
- Central European Service for Cross-Border Initiatives (Hungary)
- Grensmakelaar (Netherlands)
- Galicia-North Portugal and Castilla y León-North Portugal (Spain/Portugal)
In the framework of the upcoming Call for Proposals and Expression of Interest to be opened on 24 January 2011, ESPON invites for an Info Day and Partner Café in Brussels on 10 February 2011.
The purpose of the event is to inform and assist potential beneficiaries in preparing proposals for the upcoming Call. The European Commission DG Regio and the Hungarian EU Presidency will present the policy demand behind the need for further ESPON results.
The Info Day and Partner Café will also give participants the chance to network, to find partners for their projects and get feedback.
Deadline for registration is 28 January 2011 at 15h00. Reserve your place by filling in the online form available here.
For programme details visit the ESPON website.
Further information on the Call for Proposals and Expression of Interest here.
The 2010 Single Market Award went to "Grenzoffensive", a cross border project that helps to make it easier for small and medium enterprises to do business across borders in the neighbouring regions of Bavaria (Germany), Upper Austria and Southern Bohemia (Czech Republic). Grenzoffensive provides on-line forms, assistance with administrative formalities, and expert advice regarding cross-border procurement, taxation, wages and other issues relevant to local SMEs and citizens. The project received financial support from the EU's Interreg programme.
Local and regional authorities have been involved in the preparation of the draft National Reform Programmes in several EU countries, although there is still a way to go. They are also driving reform and investments in the areas of smart, sustainable and inclusive growth.
These are amongst the main findings of the Committee of the First Monitoring Report on the Europe 2020 strategy, which was published on 30 November 2010. The Committee will be publishing a Monitoring Report annually, as a contribution to the Spring European Council.
Public spending is one of the main policy tools used to promote development and tackle disparities across regions. This paper takes a look at patterns and trends of public investment in the new Member States of the European Union. It also examines the contribution of EU cohesion policy across various investment fields, and the effects of the economic crisis, on public expenditure.
Key findings show that despite restrictions and their relative lower levels of public expenditure, public investment is higher in new Member States than in the rest of the EU in terms of GDP. This can be linked to a significant extent to the support from cohesion policy. Given the pressure on public budgets as a direct impact of the crisis, the role of cohesion policy has become even more significant in relative terms in ensuring sufficient supply of public goods and services - critical for strengthening growth and employment.
The European Commission and the Committee of the Regions of the European Union have just announced the launch of the next edition of their OPEN DAYS – the European Week of Cities and Regions, which will be taking place from 10 to 13 October 2011. The programme and related seminars will be organised around the theme of "Investing in Europe's future: regions and cities delivering smart, sustainable and inclusive growth". An online information pack is available for regions and cities, European associations, international organisations, and businesses wishing to enlist as partners for the event. The deadline set for applications is 4 March 2011.
The European Commission has presented its proposal for an EU Strategy for the Danube Region and its 115 million inhabitants. This initiative seeks to develop the huge economic potential and improve environmental conditions of the region. By establishing a framework for long-term cooperation on a wide range of issues, the Strategy will play a key role in improving sustainable transport, linking energy systems, protecting the environment, preserving water resources and stimulating the business climate. With its focus on sustainable growth, it will also make an important contribution to achieving the Europe 2020 goals.
The European Commission is seeking the views of public and private organisations, companies and individual citizens on how Europe could scale up innovation to meet the challenges of the ageing population in Europe, and in particular on a pilot European Innovation Partnership (EIP) on active and healthy ageing, as set out in the Innovation Union Flagship Initiative, presented on 6 October by Maire Geoghegan Quinn, European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science and Antonio Tajani, Vice-President for Industry and Entrepreneurship. Between 2010 and 2030, the number of Europeans aged over 65 will rise by nearly 40%, posing huge challenges but also offering great opportunities for Europe's society and economy. The EIP, which the Commission has proposed should be launched in 2011, would seek to meet three goals: to improve the health and quality of life of older people, enabling them to live active and independent lives; to contribute to the sustainability and efficiency of health and social care systems; and to foster competitiveness and business opportunities . The online consultation runs until 28 January 2011.
EU cohesion policy has been making the headlines in recent days. This kind of reporting and scrutiny provides a welcome contribution to the discussions and reflections on the future policy after 2013. It also helps people understand how the policy works in practice - both in terms of the challenges it faces and the opportunities it provides. EU Commissioner for Regional Policy, Johannes Hahn, made a statement on 30 November clarifying a number of issues. Some of the points raised in the reports were also addressed in the Commission's press briefing.
The Commission is open to suggestions for adapting and improving the policy after 2013. Make your views heard by taking part in the public consultation open until 31 January 2011.
A new professional networking website on regional policy has been launched by the European Commission: www.regionetwork2020.eu.
RegioNetwork 2020 is an on-line forum for exchanges of good practice and discussions relating to EU Cohesion Policy. It is also designed to support "Europe 2020", the EU's strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth.
Sign up for www.regionetwork2020.eu today and join the conversation!
The European Union promotes JEREMIE and JESSICA: innovative ways to enhance the efficiency of EU investment in the regions
The European Commission is organising in co-operation with the European Investment Bank (EIB) Group an event in Brussels on 29 and 30 November to further promote two initiatives designed to provide loans or guarantees instead of one-off grants under cohesion policy. The current economic situation in Europe reinforces the need to use tools like JEREMIE (access to finance for small businesses) and JESSICA (urban development) which can help regions and cities to meet their investment needs.
The second meeting of the year between the Commission's Regional Policy's department (DG REGIO) and representatives from regional offices in Brussels takes place on 26 November. EU Regional Policy Commissioner Johannes Hahn will present the Fifth Report on Economic, Social and Territorial Cohesion. This will be followed by an open floor discussion. Registration for this event has now closed but you can follow proceedings live here on the web from 10h00 to 12h00 in English, French and German.
Evaluation and monitoring techniques can support the inclusion of Roma by helping to design better projects and policies. A conference organised by the European Commission in Brussels on 30 November 2010 will look at a number of case studies and good practices. It will also touch on sensitive issues relating to data collection and ethnicity.
Six projects funded by the European Regional Development Fund and the European Social Fund received awards at the "Creating futures" event organised in October 2010 by the East of England Development Agency. The awards recognised achievements in areas like reducing carbon emissions and skills development. The East of England is due to benefit from over €300 million from the EU Structural Funds during the period 2007-2013.
A public consultation on economic, social and territorial cohesion has been launched by the European Commission.
The consultation aims to collect ideas and contributions on the question of how the Union's cohesion policy should adapt to new challenges and how its delivery can be improved in order to maximise its impact in the future. It will help to shape the Commission's proposals on the future of the policy.
The Court of Auditors of the European Union has just published its annual report in which it recognises that improvements have taken place in terms of management and controls related to Structural Funds.
The amount of errors in payment claims made by Member States, which can lead to incorrect transfers from the Community budget, has decreased since the last report (error rate approximately 5% against 11% in previous years).
The action plan launched by the Commission in 2008 to help Member States in this area is beginning to bear fruit (see MEMO/08/673).
The ESPON 2013 Synthesis Report presents the first results from the major Applied Research projects undertaken by ESPON so far. It also includes result from Targeted Analyses priority, which is specific research done at the request of a Member State or a group of regions or cities.
The ESPON programme addresses a wide variety of issues relevant for Cohesion Policy such as the functionality of major urban agglomerations, the diversity of development options for rural regions, demography and migratory flows or the territorial impacts of climate change.
This first synthesis report highlights the added-value the ESPON projects can have for policy development with regards to the aims of the European cohesion agenda and the development of the EU territory. It is available on the ESPON website. Click here to discover it.
Commission assesses economic and social trends in EU regions and sets out options on future cohesion policy
The Commission's 5th Report on Economic, Social and Territorial Cohesion published today shows that the EU's cohesion policy has made a significant contribution to growth and prosperity and promoting balanced development across the Union. However, in the wake of massive economic and social upheavals over recent years, the policy now needs to adapt to address new challenges.
Call for Expression of Interest for non-bank micro-credit providers under JASMINE: Joint Action to Support Micro-finance in Europe
The European Investment Fund (EIF) has launched a second call for expression of interest to select up to 20 European non-bank credit providers to benefit from technical assistance under the JASMINE initiative in 2011. The first call launched in 2009 provided training and assessment for 15 micro-credit providers. The deadline for submitting an Expression of Interest is 19 November 2010. All details can be found on the EIF website
JASMINE is a joint initiative of the Commission, the European Investment Bank and European Investment Fund. It was set up to enhance the capacity of micro-credit providers/micro-finance institutions (MFIs) in various fields such as good governance, information systems, risk management and strategic planning. The first phase is the provision of technical assistance through assessment and training for non-bank micro-credit providers.
European Union Cohesion Policy is playing a key role in dealing with the economic crisis, according to a report published by the European Commission on 25 October 2010.
Reforms approved in 2008 and 2009 have boosted the take-up of EU Structural Funds, with more than 27% of the funding available for the 2007-2013 period (€93 billion) already allocated to specific projects. EU support is helping to improve access to finance for small businesses, and providing active labour market measures targeted at groups affected by the crisis. Although the report notes progress in some areas, it highlights the need to accelerate project implementation in the rail sector, energy, environment, the digital economy and social inclusion.
A conference to review progress with the implementation of two EU financial engineering instruments - JEREMIE and JESSICA - will take place in Brussels on 29-30 November 2010. JEREMIE aims to promote access to finance for Small and Medium Enterprises, while JESSICA supports sustainable investment in city areas. Both instruments were developed by the European Commission in partnership with the European Investment Bank.
Every French region, in its programme supported by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), has incorporated the aim of developing a “regional innovation strategy”. Following a request by the Commission, a study has recently been published and analyses how these strategies are developing and what the main lessons to be learned are. This analysis will help the French regions review their programmes mid-term.
The Commission published its ideas for the post-2013 review of the EU's budget in a Communication adopted on 19 October 2010. President Barroso commented that the budget should help the EU to face collective challenges "not necessarily through increased expenditure, but by focussing on the right priorities". In the field of Cohesion Policy, the Commission has suggested a new planning and management cycle to ensure that future EU funding is firmly linked to the Europe 2020 targets.
This EU-wide survey asked representative samples of EU citizens in each EU Member country. Questions asked in the survey included:
- How many EU citizens are aware of the support received in the framework of EU regional policy?
- How many feel that their cities or regions – and they personally – have benefited from the policy?
- What should EU regional policy have as its priorities, both today and in the future?
- Which are the preferred information sources?
Discover some surprising results and find out how your country compares with the EU average:
Eurobarometer report : EU citizens' awareness and perceptions about EU Regional policy
Together with the Regional Studies Association, DG REGIO hosted the first ever OPEN DAYS Early Career Research Competition. With over 50 entries, the jury shortlisted 6 finalists who were invited to OPEN DAYS to present their work through a poster session in front of the jury. The winner, Frank Neffke from the Erasmus University Rotterdam, presented his work on structural transformation of regional economies. The runner-up, Emmanouil Tranos from the University of Newcastle, presented his work on the geography of internet infrastructure in Europe. Both have been awarded a cash prize and all finalists were presented with a certificate.
The contribution of microfinance and entrepreneurship to the Europe 2020 strategy will be discussed at a conference in Brussels on 9 November 2010. Participants will have an opportunity to find out more about EU initiatives to promote microfinance including JASMINE (Joint Action to Support Microfinance Institutions in Europe), JEREMIE (Joint European Resources for Micro to Medium Enterprises) and EPMF (European Progress Microfinance Facility).
Over 6 000 representatives from around 240 regions and cites came together in Brussels last week (4-7 October) for the OPEN DAYS 2010. In over 130 seminars, participants discussed ways of working together to boost European competitiveness, in line with the Europe 2020 strategy - the EU’s plan for growth and job creation. Presentations, photos and videos from the event are now available on the OPEN DAYS website. Participants are also invited to take part in the evaluation which is open until 18 October.
Organised every year by the Commission and the Committee of the Regions, the Brussels week marked the highpoint of the European Open Days 2010, which also feature some 260 local events – conferences, cultural events, fairs and exhibitions – taking place across Europe between September and November.
Take part in the on-line evaluation
EU regional funds can help unlock the growth potential of the Union as a whole, by targeting investment in innovation in all regions. This is the central message of a Commission Communication 'Regional Policy contributing to smart growth in Europe 2020' adopted on 6 October 2010. The Communication encourages national and regional authorities to design 'smart specialisation strategies' to help regions identify their best assets. Concentrating resources on a limited number of priorities will ensure a more effective use of public funds and help to leverage higher levels of private investment.
Communication: Regional Policy contributing to smart growth in Europe 2020
The Fifth Cohesion Report's broad orientations on the future architecture of cohesion policy will be discussed at a conference in Slovenia on 16-18 March 2011. The conference is co-organised by the European Commission's Directorate General for Regional Policy (DG REGIO), the Regional Studies Association and the Slovenian Government Office for Local Self-Government and Regional Policy.
The Conference will provide a forum for the first international academic debate on the Fifth Cohesion Report between regional studies researchers and senior officials from the European institutions. The key topics of the conference will be: the contribution of cohesion policy to Europe 2020, the territorial coverage of the policy, the policy performance and effectiveness, the efficiency of governance structures and implementation arrangements and the relationship between cohesion policy and other EU structural policies.
More information on the calls for papers, paper submission deadline and registration Regional Studies Association
4 October will mark the beginning of OPEN DAYS – the European Week of Regions and Cities. On top of the 130 seminars organised in Brussels, bringing together almost 6 000 participants, 260 local events will be taking place throughout Europe during October. Organised on the eve of the launch of debates on post-2013 cohesion policy reform and centred around three themes: Competitiveness, Cooperation and Cohesion, OPEN DAYS will encourage the exchange and promotion of good practices.
Website of OPEN DAYS
The joint United Nations/European Commission initiative on 'The economics of ecosystems and Biodiversity' has just launched a report for local and regional policy makers.
It gives practical guidance on how to deal with the challenge of biodiversity loss at a local and regional level. It examines what local governments can do with respect to natural resource use and management, maintaining and supporting biodiversity, local and regional urban and spatial design, as well as market-based approaches, such as Payment for Ecosystem Services (PES).
The report can be downloaded on The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity
Six months ago, storm Xynthia on France’s Atlantic coast and floods on the island of Madeira caused major damage and claimed the lives of many people. Following requests from authorities in the two countries, the Commission is today approving use of the European Union’s Solidarity Fund.
Find out more about the European Union Solidarity Fund
Press Release :
The latest issue of Panorama magazine, 'Towards greater social inclusion - Regional policy's contribution', is now online
This “autumn” issue of Panorama falls within the scope of the 2010 European Year for Combating Poverty and Social Exclusion. Illustrated by a host of examples of projects, it highlights cohesion policy’s leading role in contributing to a more social Europe and in reducing discrimination. The situation of Roma people also comes under the spotlight.
Panorama is currently available in English, French and German. The other language versions will be accessible from 11 October on the Inforegio website.
A few days ahead of the launch of the 8th European Week of Regions and Cities, we invite you to discover this special issue of Panorama magazine. It contains a host of articles, illustrated with multiple examples of projects, on the three pillars of the 2010 edition: competitiveness, cooperation, and cohesion. Similarly, you are invited to come and meet the founding figures behind the OPEN DAYS as well as seminar organisers, not only in Brussels but also in … Slovakia and Spain!
At the same time as the hundred or so seminars being organised in Brussels, more than 250 local events are taking place throughout the European Union and beyond.
This special issue is available in English, French and German: Panorama
‘Making European maritime areas places for innovation and development’ – this is the message to be expressed on this occasion by the Directorate General for Regional Policy and the Directorate General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries.
The conference will highlight innovative initiatives in the maritime industries for the countries of the European Union which are dependent upon the sea, and European partner institutions, experts and sponsors from throughout the Union will be in attendance.
Four thematic roundtable discussions will be held, focusing on:
- New information and communication technologies in the fishing industry;
- Renewable energy in coastal areas;
- Fishing and coastal tourism and other related economic activities;
- Fishing, aquaculture and industrial processing.
Programme and registration: conference website
(Required conference code: Vigoconference2010)
Since the creation of the INTERREG programme in 1990, European Territorial Co-operation has taken on added importance, to the point of becoming a specific objective of Cohesion Policy. From 30 September to 1 October, representatives of the 27 Member States are meeting together in Tournai (Belgium) in the presence of Johannes Hahn, European Commissioner for Regional Policy, and Rudy Demotte, Minister-President of the Walloon Government, to examine this co-operation and discuss its future.
Several successful cross-border, transnational and interregional projects will be showcased, including the project FLAPP, bringing together 15 Member States to manage floods in at-risk areas. An exhibition is also open to the general public.
The European Parliament's Special Committee on the Financial, Economic and Social Crisis (CRIS) held a workshop on 15 September on the role of cohesion policy in EU economic recovery. The chairwoman of the regional development committee, Danuta Hübner, concluded: "Cohesion policy is the motor of growth and the wisest solution to the economic crisis." All panellists underlined that the crisis had affected regions in different ways, with some countries suffering more than others. "The crisis must be used to get rid of structural weaknesses," said European Commissioner for Regional Policy, Johannes Hahn. He added that cohesion policy must create an added value and remain flexible, and in particular focus investment on the key EU 2020 strategy projects.
The “Danube Video Library” is now online on the INTERACT website. Watch clips of all the preparatory conferences for the EU Strategy for the Danube Region . The library contains over 70 interviews with key stakeholders from many of the Danube countries, giving their views on issues important for the region.
A new analytical model could lead to a better understanding of the economic, social and environmental impacts of EU Cohesion Policy. The so-called "regional holistic model" (RHOMOLO) is currently being developed using data from five EU countries (Germany, Poland, Slovakia, Czech Republic and Hungary). The model takes on board a wide range of factors, from transportation costs to education and research. For further information, see the latest Working Paper published by the European Commission's Regional Policy department.
Modelling the Policy Instruments of the EU Cohesion Policy
The European Evaluation Society (EES) is organising its 9th International Conference on 6 - 8 October in Prague, Czech Republic. This year's theme is "Evaluation in the Public Interest: Participation, Politics and Policy”. The programme encompasses over 140 sessions which cover a wide range of evaluations - from regional development and EU programmes, to evaluations in developing and transition economies. Evaluation of the EU Structural Fund programmes will be a key topic of many workshops.
As part of the event, the Commission's Directorate-General for Regional Policy is organising a symposium on 7 October 2010 on "How to capture effects in real world public policies". Discussions here will build on the extensive experience from the ex post evaluation exercise of the 2000-2006 structural fund programmes.
Complete programme and more information:
The 9th European Evaluation Society International Conference
All European regions need to focus on innovation, but 'smart specialisation' strategies that take account of local specificities are the most likely to succeed. A study published by the European Commission breaks European regions down into seven main groups and looks at the relative importance of a wide range of factors, from business R&D to education and training. The study highlights the difficulty of obtaining risk capital as one of the most important barriers to research and innovation, particularly in the light of the current economic crisis. Support for research and innovation accounts for 25% of EU Cohesion Policy expenditure.
Read the study : EU Structural Funds: support for research and innovation
How can regions contribute to economic recovery, promote innovation and improve quality of life for future generations? A Conference organised by the Regional Studies Association in Manchester on 2 November 2010 will look at the impact of global changes on the role of regions. Participation is particularly welcome from early career researchers. Deadline for submitting papers: 3 October 2010.
The Commission's Environment department has opened a public consultation on the post-2010 EU biodiversity strategy. The objective of this consultation is to gather input from a wide range of stakeholders on possible policy options for the new strategy. These views will be assessed by the Commission as part of the process of its development. The consultation is open until 22 October 2010 and is available in English, French, German, Italian, Polish and Spanish.
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