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Brussels, 5 June 2008

Europe needs to multiply 'Guggenheim effect' to stay attractive, Hübner tells World Investment Conference in La Baule

Europe needs to multiply the 'Guggenheim effect' achieved in Bilbao to stay attractive for investors – and Cohesion Policy can help to get results. That is one of the key messages Danuta Hübner, Commissioner for Regional Policy, will take to the World Investment Conference in La Baule, France. The conference, which takes place 4-6 June, brings together about 900 business and political leaders to explore how to make Europe more attractive and competitive.

Commissioner Hübner will draw on the experience of Cohesion Policy in rejuvenating Europe's cities and regions. "A dynamic mix of infrastructure and knowledge is required for regions to be attractive for investors. Cohesion Policy contributes to providing such a mix," she said.

She called Bilbao, whose spectacular Guggenheim Museum has become symbolic of creative regeneration policies, 'a good example of investment in bricks accompanied by investment in people rejuvenating a city and a region... an example of a complex process for the benefit of knowledge creation, knowledge exploitation and vision'.

The museum was part of a comprehensive strategy that revitalised not just the near-derelict water front, but completely changed the depressed industrial image of Bilbao, putting it on the international map, and attracting new businesses with new jobs. Cohesion Policy can catalyse the potential of other regions to apply lessons learnt from that experience, the Commissioner said.

Clusters and competitiveness poles

The Commissioner will also raise the importance of developing and networking world-class knowledge clusters and competitiveness poles in Europe as a way of spurring innovation in the regions. Cohesion Policy can contribute, through, for instance, co-financing scientific infrastructures such as science parks and business incubators, as well as networking to create links between business and universities.

Sharing knowledge of what works and how is vital to multiply the effect. To enable regions to learn from one another, Cohesion Policy supports networks to enable exchanges of experience through initiatives such as 'Regions for Economic Change'.

Notes for editors

This year's World Investment Conference is the fifth annual edition of the event in La Baule. The theme this year is: 'Brainpower in Europe – the driver for growth'. It will explore Europe's potential to exploit its creativity to drive innovation and competitiveness. Among special events is the launch of the Transatlantic Green Platform, which Commissioner Hübner will also attend. This aims to promote research and development cooperation on environmental technologies, especially renewable energy.

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