In 2017, the European Week of Regions and Cities will reach its 15th birthday. It is a moment of both looking back and looking forward, whilst tackling the challenges that the EU regional and urban policy should be addressing, as of today, and over the coming years.
The debate on Europe's future was kick-started by the Rome Treaties' anniversary (in March) and will continue to unfold throughout 2017. The European Week of Regions and Cities will be an opportunity for EU regions and cities to contribute to this debate and to feed into the political mainstream examples and inputs from the regional and urban angle to shape Europe's future. Moreover, the European Week will discuss the Cohesion Report and the EU multiannual financial framework 2020-2026, and thus be a key platform for gathering and presenting the views of the regions and cities on both the budget and the subsequent legislative proposals with regard to cohesion policy and rural development.
Europe's regions and cities face major challenges with profound consequences, such as adaptation to globalisation and to a new wave of automation in the workplace, as well as an urgent need to integrate migrant populations. These challenges can be turned into opportunities for economic and social progress, provided that the right policies and programmes are implemented at all levels.
Discussions during the European Week of Regions and Cities will examine the nature of these challenges and how they are playing out in different geographical contexts. Under the main headline of 'Regions and Cities working for a better future', the event will focus on three sub-themes:
Building resilient regions and cities – #LocalResilience
This strand will focus on the economic and social effects of globalisation and the policy response at EU, national, regional and local level. Among the negative risks are those of (further) delocalisation of lower added-value industries, the loss of low-skilled jobs, new sources of employment that are often service-based, precarious and lower-paid. It will also represent an opportunity to present and discuss innovative ways to foster change and in particular on how to make Europe's cities smarter and more resilient.
Regions and cities as change agents – #TakeAction
This strand will consider the possible adaptations to EU regional and urban policy for the next 5-10 years on, and encourage a more general reflection on the EU from the perspective of regions and cities. It will offer a platform to illustrate the effective contributions EU regions and cities are making to the European project and will allow them to provide input to the main political debate in parallel with the 'Reflecting on Europe' process launched by the Committee of the Regions. This strand will also allow discussion of the results achieved so far and assessment of cohesion policy performances and benefits, in particular with regards to reducing disparities, while at the same time looking ahead at the future prospects.
Sharing knowledge to deliver results – #SharingKnowledge
Under this strand, regional and national authorities implementing programmes supported by the European Structural and Investments funds will have the opportunity to exchange experiences and good practices relating to programme management during the period 2014-2020. Key issues include the consideration of ways to reduce the administrative burden on beneficiaries through simplification, as well as different means of strengthening institutions and building administrative capacity among administrations at all levels.
Discussions with practitioners will be integrated with input from academia as well as from participants from non-EU countries that are interested in the process of European integration, both from an institutional point of view and in terms of policies that promote European cohesion.