The Commission publishes the first ever single report on the implementation of EU macro-regional strategies
Today the European Commission adopted the first ever single report on the implementation of the four existing European Union (EU) macro-regional strategies: the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region, the EU Strategy for the Danube Region, the EU Strategy for the Adriatic and Ionian Region and the EU Strategy for the Alpine Region.
The report provides an assessment of the state of implementation of the current strategies and takes stock of the main results achieved to date. It draws lessons from the experience gained so far and presents a number of recommendations on possible developments of the strategies and their action plans, also in the light of the future cohesion policy.
Common cross-cutting issues relevant for all four strategies are addressed in the report, regardless of their degree of maturity (e.g. policy making and planning, governance, monitoring and evaluation, funding and communication). Key results and challenges for each macro-regional strategy are presented in specific sections.
Overall the implementation of the four EU macro-regional strategies, covering 19 EU Member States and 8 non-EU countries, has generated stronger interest in and awareness of the European territorial cooperation and territorial cohesion and its added value. They have led to increased coordination and strengthened cooperation in certain areas (e.g. navigability, energy, climate change) and between countries concerned, as well as intensified cooperation with non-EU countries, bringing them closer to the EU. Strategies have also contributed to shaping policy, implementation of existing legislation and a deeper dialogue between different actors.
However, the strategies have not shown yet their full potential and certain challenges still need to be overcome. Greater ownership and responsibility need to be retained by Member States who initiated the strategies; effectiveness of governance systems needs to be improved; relevant existing funding sources (EU, regional, national) need to be better coordinated. The report also underlines the importance of administrative resources and capacity to deliver the set objectives.
Certain questions are raised in the light of future cohesion policy. These are, in particular, concerning synergies and complementarities between EU macro-regional strategies and programmes supported by the European Structural and Investment Funds, as well as alignment of strategies with Interreg transnational programmes and further improvement of governance system.
The report is accompanied by a Commission Staff Working Document which provides more detailed information concerning the state of implementation of each macro-regional strategy, as well as specific recommendations.
The report provides a comprehensive understanding on how the four EU macro-regional strategies work by including concrete examples implemented in the respective areas. Each of these has specific added-value, such:
- the quality of the Baltic Sea water is improving and nutrient inflows are being reduced through implementation of projects like PRESTO or Interactive water management (IWAMA);
- innovative and sustainable use of marine resources and cooperation between relevant actors and initiatives in the Baltic Sea region in this field is being further actively promoted by the SUBMARINER Network;
- in the Danube river basin, the coordinated management of water and risk management though projects like SEERISK reduces considerably the risk of damage by floods;
- bottlenecks to navigability of the Danube are being removed and security of navigation improved though projects like FAIRWAY and DARIF;
- cooperation with EU countries on concrete issues of common interest within the EU Strategy for Adriatic and Ionian Region helps Western Balkan participating countries paving their way towards the EU accession;
- aiming at a sustainable economic growth respectful of the environment, green/blue corridors linking land and sea in the Adriatic and Ionian Sea have been identified as a key area where strategic projects should be promoted;
- establishing a cross-border educational space for dual vocational training in the Alpine region is addressed through projects like ‘mountErasmus’;
- cross-border connectivity in the Alpine region is improved with regard to passenger transport by developing ‘AlpInfoNet’ into a cross-border travel information system.