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Brussels, 27 September 2007

What regional policy for tomorrow? Cohesion Forum assesses the challenges

A major consultation on the shape of tomorrow's regional policy will be launched at the Cohesion Forum in Brussels on 27-28 September. The Forum, which takes place every three years, brings together high-level policy-makers from all over Europe. This major political event will open discussion on the shape of Cohesion Policy after 2013, at the start of a new budgetary period. José Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission, and Commissioners Danuta Hübner (Regional Policy) and Vladimir Špidla (Employment and Social Affairs) will be at the launch of the Forum. They will be joined by Mr José Sócrates, Prime Minister of Portugal, which holds the EU Presidency. The debates will be based on the issues raised and conclusions reached in the Fourth Economic and Social Cohesion report adopted by the Commission last May.

Commission President José Manuel Barroso said: "Cohesion Policy has a tangible impact on people's lives. This month we have launched a full review of what the budget of the European Union should look like after 2013. We want an open debate with no taboos. This Forum is our chance to listen to how Cohesion Policy can be adapted to future needs. "

Commissioner Hübner said: "Our new policy is more strategic than ever, less bureaucratic and more decentralised towards partners on the ground. However, we all still need to reflect together on a way to adapt to new challenges, such as the decline of the population, climate change, competition with emerging economies, energy provision or migration. The policy has to be in line with these new stakes."

Commissioner Špidla added: "Adaptation is a human process. We can and must help people to cope with the changes we see and the challenges we face. The funds do this by investing in people's future, through infrastructure and notably also through training. Few people know that the funds train more than 9 million persons a year. And with a real impact on people's daily lives. The funds represent not only good economic policy but also the social face of Europe."

The Forum is the occasion for the Regional Policy Commissioner Danuta Hübner to launch an EU-wide consultation on how Cohesion Policy can be improved to maximise its impact in future. This consultation, organised through the Commission's website, will run until 31 January 2008. It is open to all citizens, to all those concerned with regional policy on the ground (NGOs, economic and social partners), to the EU institutions and to national, regional, local public authorities. The results of this consultation will be presented in spring 2008, together with the Fifth Progress Report on Economic and Social Cohesion. The conclusions will also be an important contribution to the budgetary review of 2008-2009.

Around 800 representatives from 31 national delegations (all EU Member States, the candidate countries and Norway) will take part in the two days of debates together with the President of the European Commission, the Presidents of the Committee of the Regions and the Economic and Social Committee.

The Cohesion Forum will provide a first assessment of the preparation for the new programming period 2007-2013, based on national strategies and operational programmes submitted to the Commission by Member States. Danuta Hübner is pleased to announce that most all national strategies (NSRF) have been validated and more than 100 operational programmes have already been adopted by the Commission.
All debates will be broadcasted live on the following Website, in several languages:

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