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Commissioner for Regional Policy
REGIOSTARS: Regions excel in economic change
REGIOSTARS AWARDS Ceremony at the BOZAR
Brussels, 23 June 2011
I am delighted to be once again the host of this celebration of good practices from Europe's regions and cities. This is I have to say one of the nicer aspects of life as European Commissioner – from time to time, you are called upon to celebrate success and outstanding achievements.
I want to specially welcome the members of the RegioStars jury and to their President Ms Ann Mettler. They have made available to us their expertise and deep knowledge in order to choose the award winners. I warmly thank them on behalf of us all.
When we first launched the RegioStars awards, we were not certain that they were going to be successful. We need not have worried about this – we should have known that the Structural Funds community is very dedicated. And even more importantly, it is hungry for opportunities to demonstrate to others the positive impact its work is having on our society. It is hungry to share with like-minded people examples of what has worked best and what has produced surprisingly good results.
So, as in previous years, we had no difficulties attracting candidates for the 2011 edition of RegioStars. 66 candidates from 18 Member States entered the race, which is testimony to the continued interest there is for this type of award. Even if we received slightly less entries than last year, we should not forget that the competition took place at a particularly turbulent time, when all our economies were facing great difficulties and all are programmes were asked to make extra efforts to speed up implementation, thereby stretching resources.
From all the candidates, 31 have been retained as finalists. 21 for the thematic categories and 10 for the Information and Communication category. I want to congratulate them all for this great achievement.
And a special congratulation to the 6 winners – who this year come from Madeira, the Azores, Amsterdam, Northern Mid Sweden, Wales and Northern Periphery municipalities involved together in territorial cooperation activities.
I also want to remind you that nominations for the 2012 awards are already open with a deadline of 15 July this year. I hope that in this audience we have future representatives of the 2012 finalists in five categories largely dictated by the Europe 2020 themes
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Before passing the floor to Ms Mettler let me to wish you an enjoyable evening and congratulate again all the finalists and the award winners that I look forward to meeting now.