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IP/09/723

Brussels, 8 May 2009

World-class Cohesion Policy: Commissioner Hübner addresses first high-level conference on regional governance in a global context

On 11 May, Regional Policy Commissioner Danuta Hübner will be the keynote speaker at a conference in Brussels focusing on "Regional Governance in a Global Context". The first event of its kind, the conference will gather 300 participants including presidents of European regions and representatives of Brazil, Russia, China, Canada, Paraguay, Senegal, Burkina Faso and other countries, together with regional organisations such as OLAGI (Intermediate Governments of Latin America) and the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU). The aim of the event is to look at the experience of the EU's Cohesion Policy and similar policies in other parts of the world, in the context of a growing interest in the policy within the EU's external relations. A key theme will be how to organise more effective systems of governance to ensure that regional development policies achieve their maximum impact.

Ahead of the conference, Commissioner Hübner stated: “Countries worldwide face similar challenges, not least the global economic crisis, but also due to ageing populations, the risks posed by climate change and concerns over energy security. In the European Union, we are developing partnerships with countries outside the EU which deliver benefits for both parties. We see that many countries are showing a growing interest in the EU's Cohesion Policy model and its success in fostering balanced regional development and opportunities. This conference provides an excellent opportunity to share experiences and learn from each other."

This two-day conference is organised by the European Commission's Directorate-General for Regional Policy in co-operation with the Directorate-General for Development, the Committee of the Regions and the Forum of Global Associations of Regions (FOGAR). As well as examining the EU's experience in the field of Cohesion Policy, the conference will look at different models of development, at ways of sharing experience in cross-border co-operation, and the role of European regions in fostering partnerships with regions elsewhere.

Drawing on experience of Europe's Cohesion Policy

In her speech, Commissioner Hübner will recall the fundamental premise of Cohesion Policy, that is, to promote economic and social cohesion by reducing disparities in levels of development between Member States and regions. While this remains the primary role of the policy, the challenges faced by Europe's regions have changed over time and the Commissioner will underline how EU policy has evolved to meet the new realities and to deliver a more strategic, effective response.

She will stress how the new challenges of globalisation, climate change and demographic change have a strong 'territorial' dimension that requires action at local and regional level. Commissioner Hübner will also highlight key Cohesion Policy successes as well as some of the lessons learned in implementing the policy, which may be useful for countries outside Europe.

The conference is divided into three workshops: The first, "Regional responses to global challenges", will focus on the contribution of different regional governance systems to development programmes, both inside and outside the EU. The second, "The role of regional co-operation in a globalised world", will explore the growing involvement of Europe’s regions in the development of cities and regions in the rest of the world, and examine how regional networks can contribute to development and sustainability. The final session, entitled "Regional inequalities within emerging countries", will examine the scale of inequalities in different parts of the world and assess whether a geographically based approach, such as the EU's Cohesion Policy, is the most effective means of addressing such inequalities.

Note for editors

The EU has signed bilateral agreements with China, Russia and Brazil to strengthen regional policy cooperation and is due to sign a similar accord with Ukraine in the near future. Shared interests include instruments to support innovation-driven regional development, classification and definition of regions, and spatial planning.

The European Parliament has also recently agreed financing (€2 million) for a pilot project to promote Cohesion Policy on a global scale.

More information on the conference available at:

http://ec.europa.eu/regional_policy/conferences/globalreggov/index_en.htm

More information on international affairs in EU Cohesion Policy available at:

http://ec.europa.eu/regional_policy/international/index_en.htm


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