Strengthening Innovation in Europe's regions - Strategies for resilient, inclusive and sustainable growth
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Europe is experiencing a period of momentous change. Globalisation, automation, decarbonisation, emerging and digital technologies: all have an impact on jobs, industrial sectors, business models, the economy and the society as a whole. It is indispensable to help Europeans adapt to these profound changes and to help the EU economy to become more resilient. In the Reflection Paper on Harnessing Globalisation, the Commission highlighted the opportunities and challenges that Europe's citizens and regions are facing. This means that we need to anticipate and manage the modernisation of existing economic and societal structures, bearing in mind that today, more than ever, local issues have gone global and global issues have become local. To this end, Europe needs a long-term strategy, involving action at all levels, which triggers a fundamental shift in technology, economics and finance.
The EU has a crucial role to play in supporting all regions and Member States to activate their potential for innovation, competitiveness and sustainable jobs and growth. This is at the core of the various initiatives already undertaken, on the regulatory side as well as through the Investment Plan to create a stable pipeline of projects linked to the key EU priorities. Moreover, in recent years the Commission has called on national and regional authorities to develop smart specialisation strategies for research and innovation. The aim was to encourage all European regions to identify their specific competitive advantages, as a basis for prioritising research and innovation investment under cohesion policy in 2014-2020. Subsequently, the European Parliament, the Council of the European Union and the Committee of the Regions have highlighted the need to further build on this approach to raise the innovation potential of all regions.
Given the need to work jointly together at all levels, from local to European, to respond to these challenges and help Europe thrive in the modern world, this Communication, and its accompanying Staff Working Document, take the smart specialisation approach one step further and tackle the following main challenges:
- Boosting the innovation and competitiveness potential of European regions, as a basis for a sustainable growth model;
- Increasing interregional cooperation, which is a key element in globalised economies;
- Strengthening the focus on less developed and industrial transition regions;
- Improving and building on joint work across EU policies and programmes supporting innovation.
In this context, a range of focused pilot actions are put forward, which will facilitate developing experience and a broader way of looking at the economic development and growth of European regions. The ultimate goal is to enable all Europe's regions to build on smart specialisation to fully unlock their potential for technological change, digitisation decarbonisation and industrial modernisation.