Hauts-de-France (FR), Norra Mellansverige (North-Middle Sweden) (SE), Piemonte (IT), Saxony (DE), Wallonia (BE): these 5 regions have been selected after a call for interest launched by the Commission in September 2017. Often with a strong heritage of carbon-intensive industries, these regions can face a lack of appropriate skills, high labour costs and deindustrialisation, which makes it difficult for them to harness fully the benefits of globalisation and technological change.
Commissioner for Regional Policy Corina Creţu said: "The regions selected today share the same will to hold their own in a globalised economy, become innovation leaders, and contribute to the fight against climate change. They can count on the talents of their workers, businesses and researchers and on hands-on support from the EU."
The Commission-led pilot action will help these regions achieve economic transformation on the basis of their "smart specialisation" assets, i.e. the regions' niche areas of competitive strengths, with the aim to embrace innovation, decarbonisation, digitisation, and to develop the skills needed for the future.
These regions will now benefit from tailored assistance from Commission experts organised in "regional" teams from several Commission departments and from the European Observatory for Clusters and Industrial Change. The experts will help the regions draw up economic transformation strategies, identify opportunities for interregional cooperation and exchange good practices.
The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) will assist the Commission and organise a series of seminars for the regions. Depending on specific regional needs and strengths, the Commission will hire external experts; they can be business consultants or specialists in managing the energy and climate change transition, for example.
The Commission sets aside €200,000 per region to cover the costs of the external expertise. The money comes from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). Up to €300,000 from the ERDF will then be available for each region to support the early implementation of the regional economic transformation strategies, subject to sufficient progress in their development.
Given the number of applications, the Commission will renew the call for interest this week, with a similar budget of up to €2.5 million from the ERDF to select 5 more regions. Regions have until 19 January 2018 to apply.
The work with the partnerships will start in January 2018. Comprehensive strategies for regional transformation should be ready by the end of 2018 so that implementation can start in 2019.
This pilot action will feed into the reflection on Cohesion Policy support to economic modernisation and smart specialisation after 2020.
Europe's regions need to become more competitive and resilient in the context of major changes brought by globalisation. The industrial transition regions pilot action is part of a new set of actions presented by the Commission in July 2017, in order to take smart specialisation one step further and boost innovation in EU regions. It complements the Platform for Coal Regions in Transition launched yesterday by the Commission.
This announcement is part of Commission's Action Plan for the Planet, which was unveiled at the One Planet Summit in Paris today. The Plan includes 10 transformative initiatives for a modern economy and a fair society. They are all reflected under the 10 political priorities of the Juncker Commission.
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