Brussels, 30 September 2010
OPEN DAYS 2010 – European Week of Regions and Cities (4-7 October): towards Europe 2020
The eighth OPEN DAYS – European Week of Regions and Cities, opens on 4 October in Brussels. Organised annually by the European Commission and the EU Committee of the Regions, over 6 000 regional and local representatives will take part in this year's four-day event. Under the heading "Europe 2020: competitiveness, co-operation and cohesion for all regions”, OPEN DAYS will provide a forum for exchanging ideas on the role of Europe's regions and cities in delivering the Europe 2020 strategy. Some 260 further local events will also take place across Europe under the OPEN DAYS banner, including a press panel on the role of football in uniting divided communities.
Regional Policy Commissioner Johannes Hahn said: "OPEN DAYS is taking place at an important juncture. Discussions on the future EU budget, the future of cohesion policy, and the implementation of the Europe 2020 Strategy are all in full swing. The exchange of views between public bodies, academia and the business community during the OPEN DAYS will provide us with the right input to see which role Europe's regions and cities can play in delivering this strategy. It will be important as well to see how the EU's cohesion policy can translate the Europe 2020 ambitions into practical measures.''
Committee of the Regions' (CoR) President Mercedes Bresso said: "The Europe 2020 strategy needs real policy proposals, a budget that meets its ambitions and a strong European regional policy. To achieve this is our top priority. The structural funds are the best operational tool Europe has to implement its policies. To unlock its development potential, Europe needs to reduce bureaucracy, avoid top-down approaches and rely more on regions and cities. OPEN DAYS is an excellent opportunity to say what we expect. It is also a showcase to highlight the myriad ways in which regions and cities make Europe's policy agenda a reality."
Europe 2020: competitiveness, co-operation and cohesion for all regions
Regions are at the front-line when it comes to implementing reforms and making investments in the core areas of the Europe 2020 strategy: research and innovation; training and job creation; education and skills; energy and sustainability. With over 240 partner regions and cities on board, OPEN DAYS provides a focal point for sharing this wealth of experience.
Interest from the private sector has also continued to mount year on year, with leading companies such as Philips, Veolia and IBM continuing their involvement.
During the week, over 130 seminars will take place grouped around three themes:
Competitiveness (5 October): innovation, regional development and green economic growth;
Cooperation (6 October): interregional, cross-border and macro-regional cooperation;
Cohesion (7 October): territorial and social cohesion and how to better integrate different policies at local and regional level.
Future cohesion policy on the agenda
Ensuring a successful cohesion policy post-2013 requires the input of views from regions and cities. Taking place shortly before the adoption of the 5th Cohesion Report, and on the eve of the debate on the future EU budget, OPEN DAYS provides an excellent opportunity for discussion on how to maintain cohesion policy's current strengths while taking future challenges into account.
One key issue in this debate is whether macro-regional strategies, such as the EU Strategy for the Danube Region, could become an important framework for policy delivery. Slovakian First Vice-Prime Minister, Ján Figel, and Bulgarian Deputy Minister of Regional Development and Public Works, Lilyana Pavlova, will be amongst the high level political leaders taking part in a special Danube Press Panel on 5 October.
The Meeting Place
The OPEN DAYS 2010 will be an opportunity to meet local practitioners and to learn more about projects funded by the EU. The ‘Meeting Place’ on the premises of Committee of the Regions will feature regional projects and programmes in an exhibition with over 50 stands on ‘Green Economy’ and ‘Territorial Cooperation’ and accompanied by 36 seminars including one involving U.S. Conference of Mayors' President B. Elisabeth Kautz, who will sign an agreement with the Committee of the Regions on 5 October on future cooperation in the field of climate action.
OPEN DAYS going local: Europe in your region
But OPEN DAYS is not just about Brussels. Between September and November, around 260 local events organised by partner regions and cities will take place in 35 countries under the banner 'Europe in my regions/Europe in my City'. As well as raising awareness of how the EU invests in projects which impact on the day-to-day life of citizens across Europe, the initiative will also take the debate on the future cohesion policy to a wider public.
Other highlights of the OPEN DAYS week include:
OPEN DAYS University: Following a successful inauguration last year, the University will again provide opportunity to hear valuable insights on regional development from leading academics throughout the week.
EU-US cooperation agreement on climate action (5 October): Event involving US Conference of Mayors' President Elisabeth Kautz, EU Climate Action Commissioner Connie Hedegaard, and CoR President Mercedes Bresso.
Launch of online platform "RegioNetwork 2020" (6 October): Designed to enable partners to share information and co-operate throughout the year, this virtual community will be open to representatives of regions and all those with a professional interest in EU cohesion policy.
Press panel on "Cohesion policy uniting divided communities: the experience of football" (6 October): Regional Policy Commissioner Hahn, Education and Culture Commissioner Vassiliou, and a UEFA representative will be amongst panellists at this press event highlighting various sporting initiatives supported by cohesion policy to tackle racism and sectarianism.