Brussels, 2 October 2009
OPEN DAYS 2009 – European Week of Regions and Cities (5-8 October): gearing up for the biggest event in the EU Regional Policy calendar
The seventh annual OPEN DAYS – European Week of Regions and Cities, organised by the European Commission and EU Committee of the Regions, takes place 5-8 October. Over 7 000 European, national and regional policy-makers, practitioners and representatives of business, civil society and academia will participate in 125 seminars and other events in Brussels. Participants will come not only from Europe but also from the United States, China and India. The aim of the four-day event is for regions and cities to share ideas on a wide spectrum of issues. They range from boosting economic development and counteracting the current recession to the long-term challenges of climate change. Some 230 additional local events will also take place in Member States under the OPEN DAYS banner.
European Commission President Jos é Manuel Barroso, who will be among the speakers in the Opening Session at the European Parliament, said: "This year's event will be particularly important. Entitled 'Global Challenges, European Responses', it will look at how the global economy is changing as a result of the downturn. Europe, its Member States and its regions have to invest in major and innovative changes to emerge from the crisis, to preserve the European model of society and to remain globally competitive. Globalisation is not the enemy of subsidiarity. It is, in fact, the exact opposite. Regions are the first place for acquiring know-how, for economic activity, employment, social cohesion and innovation systems."
Regional Policy Commissioner Paweł Samecki said: "OPEN DAYS is the biggest event in the EU Regional Policy calendar and it puts local and regional ideas and concerns firmly in the public spotlight. The economic crisis continues to remind us that all regions need to find ways to respond to global challenges. OPEN DAYS provides a unique platform for dialogue between the public, private and academic sectors to find concrete solutions."
Committee of the Regions' (CoR) President Luc Van den Brande said: "The climate change day on 7 October during the OPEN DAYS will be the perfect opportunity for local and regional authorities across Europe to send a strong message about the need for collaboration on tackling both the causes and effects of global warming ahead of the UN summit in Copenhagen in December."
Global Challenges, European Responses
213 regions and cities are partners for OPEN DAYS 2009 and they will work in "conglomerates" on themes such as innovation or public health.
The seminars at this year's OPEN DAYS are focused on four main topics:
Restoring growth: Innovation in Europe's cities and regions;
Regions and Climate Change: Europe's way to sustainable regional development;
Territorial Cooperation: Working together across borders;
Achieving results, looking ahead: EU Cohesion Policy's evaluation and future prospects .
Discussions on the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region will also be central to the agenda. Adopted by the European Commission in June (see: IP/09/893 ), the Strategy is one of the main priorities of the Swedish EU Presidency and the first that has been developed along a 'macro-regional' approach. It sets out to enhance cooperation between the eight Member States which border the Sea in order to tackle specific challenges in the area, in particular environmental problems. Other aims include strengthening competitiveness, developing energy and transport links, and improving the region’s security, especially in the maritime field. Swedish Deputy Prime Minister Maud Olofsson and the Swedish and Finnish Ministers for European Affairs, Cecilia Malmström and Astrid Thors, will take part in a Baltic Sea press panel during the OPEN DAYS.
Discussions are also expected to focus on a new macro-regional strategy for the Danube Basin. The European Council has asked the Commission to outline plans for a Danube strategy by the end of 2010 and the Committee of the Regions will adopt a report on the subject at its OPEN DAYS plenary session (7 October).
OPEN DAYS University
The OPEN DAYS University is among several new features included in the 2009 programme. Designed to get the academic community more involved, it will include a series of panels with leading academics. US author and economist Jeremy Rifkin , who is renowned for his ideas on the post-carbon "Third Industrial Revolution", will address the conference via a video message which will stimulate discussions on how European regions can respond to climate change.
'The Meeting Place': Regions making business
During the OPEN DAYS, the Committee's premises will be for local experts and representatives of banks and international companies such as Siemens and Motorola, who are teaming up to organise 33 seminars on regional and business development.
Working in partnership
The EU Cohesion Policy, which has a budget of EUR 347 billion in 2007-2013 and provides support for 455 development programmes in the Member States, demands effective cooperation between public authorities and the business community to make best use of EU funds. The OPEN DAYS can help lay the foundations for such partnerships and for joint projects.
OPEN DAYS going local: Europe in your region
233 local events will take place in 33 countries as part of the "Europe in my Region/Europe in my City" initiative. The events include festivals, youth debates, seminars and sporting competitions. The idea is to celebrate Europe's achievements and to raise awareness of the scale of EU investment available through the Cohesion Policy for projects ranging from technology parks to broadband development and high-speed transport links.