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Press Release

The EU's Assembly of Regional and Local Representatives

COR/10/32

Brussels, 13 April 2010

Committee of the Regions takes EU "macro-regions" debate to next level

EU "macro-regional" strategies define priority projects for groups of regions or countries like the Baltic Sea region or the Danube area. A high-level conference organised by the Committee of the Regions (CoR) in Brussels today was the first opportunity to link these separate geographical debates and examine the new concept as a whole. EU Commissioner for Regional Policy Johannes Hahn joined more than 300 politicians and experts to debate the potential and limitations of existing and emerging macro-regional strategies.

After the adoption of the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region in October 2009, the European Commission is expected to propose a "Danube Strategy" blueprint by the end of this year, as prompted by the Committee of the Regions. The strategies are considered to be first two test cases for the macro-regional approach, which aims to set priorities for large European regions at EU level and define concrete actions for cross-border cooperation. The goal is to channel existing resources more effectively in order to improve, for instance, transport and energy networks or to tackle pollution, social development, immigration issues or security policy. Today's Committee of the Regions event was the first occasion to discuss the added-value of the macro-regional framework across the different regions of Europe.

Ramón Luis Valcárcel Siso (ES/EPP), First Vice-President of the Committee of the Regions and President of the Autonomous Community of Murcia, welcomed the "added value" of a territorial approach whilst stressing the need to involve regional authorities from the very beginning in the development of a macro-region. He also called for a broader debate to avoid a "two-speed Europe" where parts of the continent benefit from macro-regional approaches and others don't, referring in particular to the Mediterranean basin.

Johannes Hahn, European Commissioner for Regional Policy, commented: "An integrated approach, with coordination of actions across policy areas will achieve better results than individual initiatives. Where groups of countries and regions choose to come together to achieve common goals, this will also strengthen EU cohesion."

April plenary session to adopt Baltic Sea Strategy report

At its plenary session on 14-15 April, the Committee of the Regions will also adopt a report on the Baltic Sea Strategy prepared by Pauliina Haijanen (FI/EPP). In her draft opinion, the Member of the Executive Board of Laitila City Council calls upon the Commission to recognise the central role and capabilities of regional and local level players in implementing the strategy. In her view, the regional and local level should be given a key position when identifying and selecting coordinating bodies at the level of priority areas and lead partners for flagship projects.

Members of the Committee of the Regions have demonstrated their political commitment by forming "intergroups" in order to facilitate discussions on specific macro-regional strategies. Aiming at their coordinated development across Europe, the CoR will take forward the overall debate on macro‑regional strategies within its Commission for Territorial Cohesion (COTER).

More information on the conference can be found at: www.cor.europa.eu/macroregions

Visit the CoR's website: www.cor.europa.eu

The Committee of the Regions

The Committee of the Regions is the EU's assembly of regional and local representatives. The mission of its 344 members from all 27 EU Member States is to involve regional and local authorities and the communities they represent in the EU's decision-making process and to inform them about EU policies. The European Commission, the European Parliament and the Council are obliged to consult the Committee in policy areas affecting regions and cities. It can appeal to the EU Court of Justice if its rights are infringed or it believes that an EU law violates the subsidiarity principle or fails to respect regional or local powers.

For more information, please contact:

Michael Alfons

EU Committee of the Regions

Tel.: +32 (0)2 546 8559

Michael.Alfons@cor.europa.eu

To read previous press releases, click here.


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