An EU Strategy for the Alpine Region

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    On 23 September 2020, the European Commission adopted the third biennial report [COM(2020)578], covering the period from mid-2018 to mid-2020, on the implementation of the four EU macro-regional strategies (MRS): the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region (EUSBSR), the EU Strategy for the Danube Region (EUSDR), the EU Strategy for the Adriatic and Ionian Region (EUSAIR) and the EU Strategy for the Alpine Region (EUSALP).

    The report is published at a time when the crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic is having severe economic, fiscal and social impacts on the European society. Therefore, in addition to assessing the state of implementation of the MRS, the report also considers the role that MRS can play in addressing the crisis through coordinated actions.

    In terms of achievements, the report focuses on the three, broad, interconnected priorities that all four MRS have in common: environment and climate change; research & innovation and economic development; and connectivity (transport, energy, digital networks). These three priorities are closely connected with key actions of the European Green Deal as well as the European Digital Agenda and ‘An economy that works for people’.

    As examples of concrete achievements in the period covered by the report, the MRS have:

    • helped improve water quality through a better management of hazardous substances being released into the Baltic Sea and a better monitoring of the Adriatic-Ionian Seas;
    • helped enhance the water status of the Danube river through reinforced cooperation between river basin management planning and flood risk prevention;
    • helped develop the conditions for ecological connectivity in the Alpine region by deploying green infrastructure;
    • supported knowledge capitalisation and sharing research and innovation in the Alpine and the Danube regions;
    • promoted energy efficient inland waterway transport by contributing to the implementation of the ‘Fairway Rehabilitation and Maintenance Master Plan’;
    • supported the sustainable development of transport corridors in the Baltic Sea region and the distribution and supply of liquefied natural gas (LNG) for maritime transport in the Adriatic-Ionian region.

    Full details on achievements in all priority areas of each MRS are to be found in the staff working document accompanying the report [SWD(2020)186].

    The MRS are a powerful tool to support economic, social and territorial development and integration, and to foster good relations with neighbouring countries. They are also a flexible tool to react to new global challenges. The MRS provide a ready and operational cooperation framework to ensure better coordination of actions, investments and projects within their territories. For all these reasons, they can play a significant role in helping MRS countries and regions to tackle the post-COVID-19 crisis by implementing, in a coordinated manner, the European Green Deal and the European Digital Strategy, which are the cornerstone of Europe’s growth strategy. In that respect, the report recommends a close coordination between MRS national and thematic coordinators and all relevant stakeholders across the macro-region in the areas in which the MRS have proved their added value.

    As the MRS do not have their own resources, their implementation depends on bundling funding from different sources. Therefore, the success or failure of the MRS is ultimately linked to their capacity to ensure that EU, national, regional, and other public and private funds are aligned with the priorities of the relevant strategy.

    In this regard, in the last two years coordination has been ongoing between MRS national and thematic coordinators and national/regional authorities responsible of EU programmes supported by the European Structural and Investment (ESI), IPA III and NDICI funds. The aim is to ‘embed’ MRS priorities into the next generation (2021-2027) of these national/regional programmes. All four MRS have taken initiatives to accelerate and strengthen this ‘embedding’ process. Efforts should be intensified during the preparation of programmes before their transmission to Brussels. This is vital for the MRS to achieve their economic, social and territorial objectives and to contribute to the post-COVID-19 economic recovery.

    The report also highlights the role that MRS play with regard to the enlargement process. The cooperation between EU Member States and countries of the Western Balkans in the Adriatic-Ionian and Danube strategies enables convergence to EU policies to substantiate their perspective for EU membership. In this context, the inclusion on April 2020 of the Republic of North Macedonia in the Adriatic-Ionian strategy highlighted the attractiveness that this cooperation framework offers to accession countries. Closer synergies between MRS and the enlargement process is key to supporting the EU perspective for the Western Balkans, in line with the EU priority ‘A stronger Europe in the world’. The current involvement on an equal footing of the Western Balkans in the Adriatic-Ionian and the Danube strategies should be further enhanced, including by ensuring their effective participation in implementing the twin green and digital transition.

    Next Steps

    The report and its accompanying staff working document are now transmitted to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions for their consideration.

    More information

    European Atlas, one of about 60 projects supported by the Alpine Space, has produced a database on the historical buildings that can be restored and provides a guide to technical solutions and good practices, which are valuable for architects. 

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    In these times, Europe’s tourism sector experiences a new demand for special and diverse short trips closer to home.

    A joint project of the Enlarged Partial Agreement on Cultural Routes of the Council of Europe, and DG Regio, European Commission, proposes you different itineraries in your region to accommodate your wanderlust and to get to know Routes4U.

    Routes4U combines a selection of the Council of Europe’s 38 certified Cultural Routes and the four EU macro-regional strategies, supported by the European Commission, giving tourists a chance to discover Europe’s diverse landscape of cultures, history, and gastronomy in the Adriatic and Ionian, the Alpine, the Baltic Sea and the Danube Regions.

    In a new video launched today, Routes4U will take you on a breath-taking adventure on new cultural routes under development through the European continent and beyond, covering 31 countries: 19 EU member states and 12 non-EU countries. Enjoy a cultural journey – explore your macro-region!

    With more than 15 years’ experience as a certified Cultural Route of the Council of Europe, the Routes of the Olive Tree gives visitors a taste of the life, traditions and history of the Mediterranean people, with world-famous festivals, exhibitions, music and product tasting events.

    The project of the Iron Age Route around the Danube river basin uncovers ancient treasures in unspoilt nature, allowing visitors to discover the hidden archaeological heritage that spans this fascinating region.

    The legacy of the Roman empire is still felt today in European culture, inspiring generations of artists, urbanists and architects. The theme of Roman Heritage gives visitors a chance to uncover lesser-known Roman sites across nine countries in the Adriatic and Ionian regions, while the Via Claudia Augusta takes tourists on a journey along trans-Alpine line of communication developed during the reign of Emperor Claudius.

    A trip to the Byzantine era takes visitors through the countries of the Danube region along the Cyril and Methodius Route to follow in the footsteps of the two saints whose contribution to the growth of the common Christian roots of Europe included the creation of the Glagolitic alphabet and the translation of the Bible into the Slavic language.

    The Maritime Heritage of the Baltic Sea offers the opportunity to explore submerged landscapes from the Stone Age, an abundance of shipwrecks from centuries of intense trade and conflict, as well as beautiful coastal landscapes that have shaped the cultural identity of the region.

    Dedicated to modern architecture as a binding element of the Baltic Sea region, you will discover the emblematic 20th century design through the works of this seminal Finnish designer Alvar Aalto, who laid the groundwork for the humanised, user-friendly environments we take for granted today.

    Finally, the Via Alpina and Mountain Heritage, a network of five hiking routes across the Alps, opens up the alpine experience to everyone through all seasons, in a journey through serene forests, rocky mountain ranges, and crystalline lakes.

    Looking forward to welcome you along the routes,

    Further information : Routes4U

        

More news

The EU Strategy for the Alpine Region involves 7 countries: Austria, France, Germany, Italy, Liechtenstein, Slovenia and Switzerland.



It builds on the experiences of the already existing macro-regional strategies: the European Strategy for the Danube Region and the European Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region and the European Strategy for the Adriatic and Ionian Region.

The Commission adopted a Communication and an Action Plan on the EU Strategy for the Alpine Region on 28 July 2015 . This followed the invitation from the European Council in December 2013. It also took account – inter alia – of the on-line public consultation that was held in 2014, and the debates and discussions in the Stakeholder Conference on the EU Strategy for the Alpine Region (Milano, December 2014).

The Alpine region is one of the largest economic and productive regions in Europe where about 70 million people live and work, as well as it is an attractive tourist destination for millions of guests every year. However, it faces several major challenges:

  • Economic globalisation requiring the territory to distinguish itself as competitive and innovative
  • Demographic trends characterised by ageing and new migration model
  • Climate change and its foreseeable effects on the environment, biodiversity and living conditions of the inhabitants
  • Energy challenge at the European and worldwide scale. Its specific geographical position in Europe as a transit region but also as an area with unique geographical and natural features

Better cooperation between the regions and States is needed to tackle those challenges.

The main added value of the Strategy for the Alpine Region will consist in a new relationship between metropolitan, peri-mountain, and mountain areas. According to the political resolution adopted by the representatives of the 7 Alpine States and 15 Alpine Regions in Grenoble in October 2013, the new strategy will focus on the following 3 thematic priorities:

  • Competitiveness and Innovation
  • Environmentally friendly mobility
  • Sustainable management of energy, natural and cultural resources

The Strategy does not come with extra EU finance but it is supported from the resources already available according to an integrated approach. Countries may also make use of the funding they receive through EU cohesion policy, other EU programmes and financial instruments, and various international financial institutions.
To know more about financial opportunities visit www.euro-access.eu/?part=searchFund

  • Since 2004, the majority of the countries in the Alpine region are EU countries.
  • Many of the problems are covered by EU policy.
  • As an independent player with respected authority, the EU is in a good position to facilitate cooperation.
  • The EU already runs programmes in the region and so can provide opportunities for cooperation.

As for the implementation, the Strategy will be based on the key principles applied for the existing macro-regional strategies: no new EU funds, no additional EU formal structures and no EU legislation, while relying on a coordinated approach, synergy effects and a more effective use of existing EU funds and other financial instruments. The aim is to produce a clear added value based on jointly identified objectives.

To get in contact with the EUSALP team in DG REGIO, please email the secretary of the REGIO. DDG.D1 : REGIO-TRANSNATIONAL-AND-INTERREGIONAL-COOPERATION@ec.europa.eu. For more information on how to get in contact with EUSALP stakeholders, please visit the EUSALP website.