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Brussels, 20 February 2008

Cohesion policy and energy challenge: boosting results in EU regions

Danuta Hübner, Commissioner for Regional Policy, today explained how Cohesion policy for 2007-2013 will contribute to developing renewable energy and improving energy efficiency in the EU's regions. Nearly €9 billion will be invested in these sectors. The Commission will also act as facilitator by supporting Member States in making timely energy investments, and by promoting the sharing of know-how among regions.

"The regions are essential in reaching ambitious goals in the energy sector through judicious Cohesion policy investment. I am impressed with the imagination that has gone into local initiatives already up and running – they are good examples for others. And I see huge potential for creating sustainable jobs and growth through devising innovative technologies that help reduce our carbon footprint. The sooner regions act, the sooner they can benefit from a low-carbon lifestyle"' the Commissioner commented.

The European Commission's proposals on climate action, launched on 23 January, gives a high priority to renewable energy and the need for better energy efficiency.

The 450 operational programmes for Cohesion policy 2007-2013 include investment totalling €9 billion for energy-related projects, € 4.8 billion for renewable energies, and € 4.2 billion for energy efficiency and energy management measures.

There is also €63.8 billion to support Research and Development, and the Commissioner called for a significant part of this to go towards projects to stimulate research on renewable energy.

In parallel to this, the Commission will help Member States to reach their renewable energy targets, and to speed up programme implementation. It also encourages the sharing of experience and best practice, particularly through “Regions for economic change”. Three strands in the initiative concern the energy issues: 1) moving to a low carbon economy; 2) developing sustainable and energy efficient housing and 3) achieving sustainable urban development.

Many regions in Europe are pioneering these developments and technologies but an essential feature of renewable energies and energy efficiency is that most of the development is done in peripheral regions.

Commissioner Hübner presented some case studies as examples other regions may like to follow:

Example 1: France's unique carbon evaluation tool

France is committed to a "low carbon economy" and is going to screen investments for 2007-13 operational programmes. The country developed a unique carbon evaluation tool to monitor CO2 emissions produced by all projects funded with EU support. The carbon evaluation tool will be applied for investments in the framework of the CPER (State-Region contract) and of the Cohesion policy co-funded operational programmes. By assessing the carbon contribution of each project investment, it will support the decision making process at each level of the partnership as well as it will facilitate the continuous monitoring of the carbon neutrality in the partner region. France believes this approach will help achieve its commitment to reduce greenhouse gases (GHG) by 75% by the year 2050.

Example 2: Italy ambitious on energy front

Italy is very dependent on imports of traditional sources of energy. This is why the country has committed itself to develop new solutions, notably through Cohesion policy to the tune of 1.057 billion €. A specific priority on sustainable energy has been included in all Italian programmes. The programme for the Southern regions specifically tackles innovation and sustainable energy. Italy, Poland and the Czech Republic lead the ranking among Member States for investment earmarked to promote renewable energy.

Example 3: Samsø (Denmark) -- pioneer in energy self-efficiency

Since Samsø Island started its ambitious plan to become a renewable energy island in 1997, it has become a showcase. The island has acquired experience with wind turbines and neutral CO2, renewable energy district heating plants, rapeseed oil tractors to solar energy panels. Their offshore wind turbines now produce more energy than is used in the island's transport. The Samsø Energy Academy helps exchange experiences and scientific work with visitors and researchers.

Example 4: 'Energy 4 cohesion project': networking of regions

This project, supported by the Intelligent Energy-Europe (IEE) Programme, was launched in early 2006. The aim is to promote renewable energies in less developed rural areas with 2007-13 Cohesion policy support. The project consortium includes 12 companies and institutes from 11 different Member States (Germany, Belgium, Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary, Estonia, Slovak Republic, Lithuania, Latvia, Italy, Greece). The objective is to develop "master plans" for pilot projects related to renewable energies in eight target regions and to disseminate results throughout Europe.


REGIOSUSTAIN: 14 partners from five Member States (Austria, Czech Republic, Germany, Poland and Slovenia) are co-operating on biomass for energy production by establishing an expert network, promoting structural change in rural areas, providing alternative sources of income and using existing potential in agriculture and forestry

CHANGELAB: co-operation among seven member States (Estonia, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Netherlands, Sweden, United Kingdom) , illustrates the need to work on the lifestyle and attitude of consumers to achieve effective regional strategies for sustainable consumption and development.

Annex (pdf, in English only): the level of EU funding earmarked for renewable energy in each Member State

For more information on regional policy:

[ Figures and graphics available in PDF and WORD PROCESSED ]

[ Figures and graphics available in PDF and WORD PROCESSED ]

[ Figures and graphics available in PDF and WORD PROCESSED ]

[ Figures and graphics available in PDF and WORD PROCESSED ]

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