Brussels, 16 July 2014
Commission launches public consultation on the EU's latest Macro-Regional Strategy for the Alpine Region
The European Commission has today launched a public consultation on the latest of a series of EU Macro-Regional Strategies, set to take shape in 2015. The EU Strategy for the Alpine Region (EUSALP) covers some 70 million people in 7 countries – 5 of them EU Member States (Austria, France, Germany, Italy and Slovenia) and 2 non-EU countries (Liechtenstein and Switzerland), all-in-all covering some 48 regions.
The call for submissions aims to tap into the opinions of relevant stakeholders and to gather their ideas in order to ensure that the Strategy is realistic in its starting point, appropriate in its objectives and responsive to the real needs of inhabitants of the Region.
European Commissioner for Regional Policy, Johannes Hahn commented: "This is the first stepping stone to a strategy that should be specifically tailored to the needs of the Alpine macro‑region. The Alpine countries have a long and successful tradition of working together to deal with the precise challenges of this part of Europe and the people who live there. Rather than re-inventing the wheel or duplicating existing cooperation structures, this strategy should complement what it is already being done. It is the fourth strategy of its kind in Europe and we have learnt from experience the importance of political commitment and focusing on just a few strategic areas to guarantee the success of the macro-regional approach."
He added: "The countries involved here, including Switzerland and Lichtenstein, all have strong and efficient administrations, and they indeed have the capacity to step up their co‑operation with each other. We hope that this new Strategy will address the economic, social and territorial imbalances that persist in the Alpine Region"
The fledgling Alpine Strategy aims to bring a new impetus for co-operation and investment to the benefit of all involved: countries, regions, civil society stakeholders and, above all, European citizens. The Strategy will focus only on issues of strategic importance for the macro-region, both challenges and opportunities, which cannot be adequately tackled by existing structures. It will seek to stimulate innovative and sustainable development that will boost growth and create jobs, while preserving the natural and cultural assets of the area.
The Strategy will build upon three key areas for action:
1. To improve the competitiveness, prosperity and cohesion of the Alpine Region;
2. To ensure accessibility and connectivity for all the inhabitants of the Alpine Region;
3. To make the Alpine Region environmentally sustainable and attractive.
The Consultation is online and open for submissions until 15 October 2014.
In December of this year, the Italian Presidency of the Council of the European Union, together with the European Commission will organise a stakeholder conference in Milan to discuss the findings of the consultation process. This will feed into a formal proposal from the European Commission by June 2015, for an Action Plan (of the Strategy) that reflects the needs and the capacities of the region.
Under the leadership of Commissioner Johannes Hahn, a new approach for regions working together has been successfully developed. Macro-regional strategies assist countries in tackling common issues together such as pollution, crime, missing transport links and lack of competitiveness.
The European Council of 19-20 December 2013 formally invited the European Commission, in cooperation with Member States, to bring forward an EU Strategy for the Alpine Region by June 2015, building on the positive experiences of the Danube and Baltic Sea regions. The European Council also referred to the positive evaluation of the concept of macro-regional strategies endorsed by the EU Council on 22 October 2013.
These strategies are supported, inter alia, through Member States' regional funding allocation under Cohesion Policy. The reform of the Policy for 2014-2020 promotes this macro-regional approach and makes it easier to combine different European funds across borders and within projects. A Report on the governance of macro-regional strategies from May 2014 sets out recommendations that should result in better management of the strategies to deliver more results, more efficiently, and to take full advantage of synergies existing among different European cooperation instruments.