Implementation of macro-regional strategies

26-09-2017

While each macro-regional strategy is unique in terms of the countries it brings together and the scope of its policies, they all share the same common aim: to ensure a coordinated approach to issues that are best tackled together. Building on the success of the pioneering 2009 European Union strategy for the Baltic Sea region, this form of cooperation has since become firmly embedded in the EU's institutional framework, with four strategies now in place, covering a total of 19 Member States and eight third countries. Every two years, the European Commission publishes a report to assess the implementation of these strategies, most recently in 2016. With the views of stakeholders and other players helping to complete the picture, it is possible to identify a number of challenges common to all macro-regional strategies in areas such as governance, funding, political commitment or the need to be more result oriented. As discussions begin on the future of cohesion policy, and the role of macro-regional strategies within the post 2020 framework, this can help focus debate to chart new solutions for the future. Parliament is also involved in this debate, with the Committee on Regional Development now preparing a report on the implementation of macro-regional strategies, while the current Estonian EU Presidency has committed to advancing political discussion on the future of cohesion policy. As plans for a new Carpathian strategy emerge, the importance of consolidating the position of macro-regional strategies within the future cohesion policy framework has arguably become more important than ever.

While each macro-regional strategy is unique in terms of the countries it brings together and the scope of its policies, they all share the same common aim: to ensure a coordinated approach to issues that are best tackled together. Building on the success of the pioneering 2009 European Union strategy for the Baltic Sea region, this form of cooperation has since become firmly embedded in the EU's institutional framework, with four strategies now in place, covering a total of 19 Member States and eight third countries. Every two years, the European Commission publishes a report to assess the implementation of these strategies, most recently in 2016. With the views of stakeholders and other players helping to complete the picture, it is possible to identify a number of challenges common to all macro-regional strategies in areas such as governance, funding, political commitment or the need to be more result oriented. As discussions begin on the future of cohesion policy, and the role of macro-regional strategies within the post 2020 framework, this can help focus debate to chart new solutions for the future. Parliament is also involved in this debate, with the Committee on Regional Development now preparing a report on the implementation of macro-regional strategies, while the current Estonian EU Presidency has committed to advancing political discussion on the future of cohesion policy. As plans for a new Carpathian strategy emerge, the importance of consolidating the position of macro-regional strategies within the future cohesion policy framework has arguably become more important than ever.