Third Report on the implementation of EU macro-regional strategies
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EU macro-regional strategies (‘MRS’) are policy frameworks initiated by EU and non-EU countries located in a defined geographical area to jointly address challenges and opportunities they have in common through setting shared, long-term objectives.
The four MRS involve 19 EU and 9 non-EU countries. They are:
- the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region (EUSBSR, 2009);
- the EU Strategy for the Danube Region (EUSDR, 2011);
- the EU Strategy for the Adriatic and Ionian Region (EUSAIR, 2014); and
- the EU Strategy for the Alpine Region (EUSALP, 2016).
From 2016, as agreed with the Council, the Commission has published a report every 2 years on the implementation of the four MRS. This is the third such report, covering the period from mid-2018 to mid-2020. It assesses the state of play and progress on implementing the MRS and examines possible ways forward. It is complemented by a staff working document (SWD) which provides more details on each MRS. Both documents are based on contributions from the MRS national and thematic coordinators (‘MRS key implementers’) and experts.
This report is published at a time when the crisis caused by the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic is having severe economic, fiscal and social impacts on European society. The Commission reacted quickly proposing immediate measures (e.g. CRII and CRII+) and extensive proposals for the short to medium term, including the Next Generation EU recovery instrument. On 21 July 2020, the European Council reached an agreement on the Next Generation EU.
As soon as the proposals were adopted by the Commission, MRS key implementers worked to identify the appropriate means for the strategies to help participating countries to respond to the crisis. The MRS provide a ready and operational cooperation framework to ensure better coordination of actions, investments and projects within their territories. The MRS are cross-sectoral, stakeholders inclusive and involve different governance levels. All these features can be of key importance in delivering EU priorities such as the European Green Deal, the European Digital Strategy, ‘An economy that works for people’ and ‘A stronger Europe in the world’.
The purpose of this report is twofold. First, it takes note of progress on the MRS and sets expectations for further improvements. Second, it explores possible development of the MRS post-COVID-19 crisis with the aim of securing a sustainable, competitive and socially inclusive economic recovery. In that respect, the report assesses the role of the MRS in delivering the new EU priorities for a green, digital and resilient future.
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