Europe Closer to citizens of Islands Mountains and Sparsely Populated Areas
This workshop focused on how the post 2020 regional policy can address the challenges and unleash the development potential of EU islands, mountains and sparsely populated areas by using tailor made approaches to their specificities.
Representatives of the European Commission and Euromontana, Conference of Peripheral and Maritime Regions and Northern Sparsely Populated Areas stressed that specifities of mountain, insular and sparsely populated areas need to be adressed by a real integrated approach. The Commission has proposed an enabling framework which, going forward, provides EU countries and regions with multiple ways to unlock the rich potential of such areas. Under the Europe closer to citizens policy objective, EU countries and regions that face geographical specificities due to their insular, mountainous or sparsely populated nature will be able to use a wide range of tools. These include locally-led development strategies (CLLD) and integrated territorial investments (ITI), as well as tailor-made financial engineering instruments, cross-border or transnational programmes that have been strengthened and simplified in the Commission’s proposal for post 2020. Macro-regional strategies will also continue to play an important role.
During the workshop succesful examples of using CLLD and ITI in supporting the potential of these areas were presented. Leader Polaris 2020, an organisation working with CLLD in northern Sweden located above the arctic circle, experts working on CLLD in Tyrol and the ITI of the small islands of North Aegean in Greece showed that CLLD and ITI bring more to an area than just financing opportunities, since they create a network that bring different people together and sometimes that is all it takes to create and implement great ideas.
Concern was expressed that in the current 2014-2020 programming period there was a very low take-up of territorial tools in islands, mountains and sparsely populated areas. Some of the participants attributed this to the complexity of the rules and others to the luck of administrative capacity in small local and regional administrations in these areas. The idea of creating a specific support unit within DG REGIO to provide tailored-made support and guidance to local authorities in these areas and also to enhance coordination between all the relevant European Commission's services, and therefore between key EU sectoral policies for islands, mountains and sparsely populated areas, was put forward.
The One-stop-shop on regional and local level established in Tyrol is a good example for following the integrated approach and facilitating coordination and cooperation between national, regional and local level and different funds and making the use of CLLD more easy.
Take away message
The local level has to be empowered to find tailor-made solutions in areas with geographic and demographic specificities. This means in particular transferring responsibility to local level (including money) on the basis of clear local bottom up, participatory development strategy. EU tools like CLLD and ITI are crucial success factors because of their governance models. Territory must not be thought isolated but in terms of "functional areas" to make full use of its potential.
“Mountain areas should be better targeted in future Cohesion Policy. If the Policy objective 5 represents an interesting initiative, the managing authorities cannot limit their efforts only to this objective. Support to beneficiaries through technical advisors, one-stop shops and simplification should be supported too”. Marie Clotteau, Director of Euromontana
“We need much stronger political recognition of the territories mentioned in Article 174 of the Treaty at EU level. We are asking the Commission to launch a White Paper as soon as possible, with concrete proposals and measures targeting these territories in a horizontal way.” Eleni Marianou Secretary General, CPMR
"Under the proposal of the European Commission, EU countries and regions have broad flexibility in terms of financial allocations and programming within their borders, enabling a full and tailored intervention for areas with geographical specificities". Wallis GOELEN VANDEBROCK Senior Advisor DG REGIO
"For scattered societies in vast sparsely populated areas, administrative support and platforms are needed ".
Mikael M Janson
Managing Director · North Sweden European Office
"Sometimes all you need to do is bring people together" Sara Karlsson Leader Polaris 2020