Sixth progress report on economic and social cohesion
The first part of the report is devoted to creativity and innovation in European regions. Here, the Commission draws some initial conclusions and identifies progress still to be made. The second part of the report deals with the results of the public consultation on territorial cohesion which was launched in 2008.
Report from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council – Sixth Progress Report on economic and social cohesion [COM(2009) 295 – Not published in the Official Journal].
The sixth progress report on economic and social cohesion deals with two areas:
- creativity, meaning the production of new and useful ideas;
- innovation, consisting of putting such ideas in practice.
In addition, creativity and innovation are essential to strengthen the competitiveness of the European economy in the long term. A budget of EUR 85 billion has thus been earmarked for innovation for the period 2007-2013.
The Commission identifies the main objectives to be met and reports on the European regions as regards creativity and innovation.
The report also discusses the outcomes of the public consultation on territorial cohesion which was launched in 2008.
The Commission highlights the necessity for the regions to develop local talent, in particular by improving levels of educational attainment and training. The regions can also increase their share of creativity by attracting foreign talent. They should create an environment which is more favourable to qualified foreign individuals, particularly by facilitating their integration and by combating discrimination.
In order to stimulate innovation, the report underlines the need to encourage business start-ups and to attract foreign investment. Innovation may also stem from firms already existing in the region which invest in research and development.
The situation in European regions
Regional Competitiveness and Employment regions show good results. The proportion of graduates in these regions is very high. Furthermore, the Commission notes that firms in these regions invest the most in research and development. In order to remain competitive, these regions should therefore maintain this favourable environment for creativity and innovation. They should also accelerate the transition between a new idea and the realisation of a new product, service or process.
Convergence regions are lagging behind with regard to Regional Competitiveness and Employment regions. Nevertheless, some indicators are encouraging. These regions have in particular benefited from an increase in their productivity and are those which attract the largest number of foreign investors. They should therefore make the most of these foreign firms by facilitating their integration in the local economy. Furthermore, these regions should increase their level of educational attainment and training.
Overall, the EU lags behind the USA, in particular in terms of innovation, but has started to close this gap. The EU has high growth as regards:
- graduates and researchers;
- public investment in research and development;
- investment in risk capital;
- broadband internet access;
- employment in knowledge- and skills-intensive services.
Outcomes of the public consultation on territorial cohesion
The public consultation which was launched in October 2008 received a large number of responses from Member States, regional and local authorities, and also from economic and social partners.
In addition, the public consultation enabled a consensus to be reached on the definition of territorial cohesion. It is: the harmonious and sustainable development of all territories by building on their territorial characteristics and resources.
The Commission identifies several objectives in order to improve territorial cohesion. In particular, it highlights the need to ensure that multilevel political governance is achieved. National, regional and local authorities should therefore collaborate in preparing and coordinating policies.
The Commission also recommends an integrated and cross-border approach to regional issues. In this way, it seeks to improve the use of European funds. New strategies aimed at sustainable development in transnational areas should thus be increased, modelled on the Baltic Sea Strategy.