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EU strategy for the Alpine region

17-12-2019

Launched in January 2016, the European Union strategy for the Alpine Region (EUSALP) is the fourth and most recent macro-regional strategy to be set up by the European Union. One of the biggest challenges facing the seven countries and 48 regions involved in the EUSALP is that of securing sustainable development in the macro-region, especially in its resource-rich, but highly vulnerable core mountain area. The Alps are home to a vast array of animal and plant species and constitute a major water ...

Launched in January 2016, the European Union strategy for the Alpine Region (EUSALP) is the fourth and most recent macro-regional strategy to be set up by the European Union. One of the biggest challenges facing the seven countries and 48 regions involved in the EUSALP is that of securing sustainable development in the macro-region, especially in its resource-rich, but highly vulnerable core mountain area. The Alps are home to a vast array of animal and plant species and constitute a major water reservoir for Europe. At the same time, they are one of Europe's prime tourist destinations, and are crossed by busy European transport routes. Both tourism and transport play a key role in climate change, which is putting Alpine natural resources at risk. The European Parliament considers that the experience of the EUSALP to date proves that the macro-regional concept can be successfully applied to more developed regions. The Alpine strategy provides a good example of a template strategy for territorial cohesion; as it simultaneously incorporates productive areas, mountainous and rural areas, and some of the most important and highly developed cities in the EU. Although there is a marked gap between urban and rural mountainous areas, the macro-region shows a high level of socio-economic interdependence, confirmed by recent research. Disparities (in terms of funding and capacity) between participating countries, a feature that has caused challenges for other EU macro-regional strategies, are less of an issue in the Alpine region, but improvements are needed and efforts should be made in view of the new 2021-2027 programming period. Furthermore, the strong bottom-up approach behind the development of the EUSALP ensures local ownership of the strategy, a key element for success. This is an update of a Briefing by Vivienne Halleux, from August 2016, PE 586.640.

A macro-regional strategy for the Carpathian region

12-12-2019

Encompassing regions from European Union (EU) Member States and third countries confronted with a common set of challenges, macro-regions are defined on the basis of geographical features. Whether inspired by a sense of regional identity, a desire to engage in closer cooperation or to pool resources, all macro-regional strategies share the aim of ensuring a coordinated approach to issues best addressed jointly. In spite of a broad consensus on the importance of the macro-regional strategies as a ...

Encompassing regions from European Union (EU) Member States and third countries confronted with a common set of challenges, macro-regions are defined on the basis of geographical features. Whether inspired by a sense of regional identity, a desire to engage in closer cooperation or to pool resources, all macro-regional strategies share the aim of ensuring a coordinated approach to issues best addressed jointly. In spite of a broad consensus on the importance of the macro-regional strategies as a relevant instrument for the optimal use of existing financial resources, some assessments indicate that stronger political ownership is needed. Currently the EU has four macro-regional strategies, covering the Baltic Sea region, the Danube region, the Adriatic-Ionian region and the Alpine region, which address common challenges and achieve economic, environmental, social and territorial cohesion. On occasion, calls are made to launch additional strategies, covering new geographical areas. Some Member States currently voice the need for a fifth macro-regional strategy, covering the Carpathian mountains, where the borders of many countries meet. The region suffers inherent weaknesses in fields such as transport, socio-economic development, innovation and energy supply, and needs to protect its rare and valuable natural resources and cultural heritage. The Polish government has presented a proposal for a common strategy for the Carpathian region to the European Commission, after consultation with several countries in the region. This draft plan has not yet been approved by all of the countries concerned. The Council remains open to any commonly agreed and mature initiative aimed at setting up a new macro-regional strategy; however it has not endorsed the creation of a macro-regional strategy for the Carpathian region. The Committee of the Regions explicitly supports the initiative to create an EU strategy for the Carpathian region. The European Commission and the European Parliament are more cautious when it comes to launching new strategies and suggest building on existing ones instead. This briefing has been produced at the request of a member of the European Committee of the Regions, in the framework of the Cooperation Agreement between the European Parliament and the Committee.

Transnational clusters and the Danube macro-regional strategy

18-03-2019

As geographical concentrations of enterprises, which work together in the same field to develop a high level of expertise, services and skills, clusters are hotbeds of innovation and play an important role in the EU economy. Known as transnational clusters when they involve actors from two or more countries in the same geographical area, clusters tend to generate higher employment growth than firms located outside clusters, and are estimated to account for a significant proportion of jobs in the ...

As geographical concentrations of enterprises, which work together in the same field to develop a high level of expertise, services and skills, clusters are hotbeds of innovation and play an important role in the EU economy. Known as transnational clusters when they involve actors from two or more countries in the same geographical area, clusters tend to generate higher employment growth than firms located outside clusters, and are estimated to account for a significant proportion of jobs in the European Union. Linking countries from across a wide geographical region, the EU's macro-regional strategies provide a useful framework to support transnational clusters. Launched in December 2010, the EU strategy for the Danube region (EUDSR) covers 14 countries that differ both in terms of their development and their relationship with the EU, including nine EU Member States and five third countries. With one of the major challenges in the Danube region being the uneven levels of innovation performance between the highly developed western part of the region and the less-developed east, transnational clusters have the potential to help redress this balance and to increase regional competiveness. The development of clusters is firmly supported by the EUSDR's action plan, which outlines a number of actions to foster clusters across the Danube region. This has led to several cluster projects, with a particular emphasis on the bio-based and agri-food sectors, building on the expertise of local enterprises in this field. The European Commission and academic experts have welcomed the progress made in the development of clusters in the Danube region in recent years, yet challenges remain, with issues such as funding difficulties, the lack of visibility of macro-regional strategies and declining political commitment all causes for concern. Future discussions on the content of cohesion programmes post-2020 provide a golden opportunity to highlight the potential of macro-regional strategies for fostering regional development and how transnational clusters can contribute to this process. This briefing has been produced at the request of a member of the Committee of the Regions, in the framework of the Cooperation Agreement between the Parliament and the Committee.

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