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Thirty years of European territorial cooperation

11-11-2020

Established in 1990, the first European territorial cooperation initiative, Interreg I, focused on cross-border cooperation. Action in this area has expanded over the years to cover broader initiatives such as trans-national cooperation, involving countries from wider geographical areas, and inter-regional cooperation, which brings together regions from across the whole EU. These three strands together make up European territorial cooperation (ETC), which is one of the two main goals of cohesion ...

Established in 1990, the first European territorial cooperation initiative, Interreg I, focused on cross-border cooperation. Action in this area has expanded over the years to cover broader initiatives such as trans-national cooperation, involving countries from wider geographical areas, and inter-regional cooperation, which brings together regions from across the whole EU. These three strands together make up European territorial cooperation (ETC), which is one of the two main goals of cohesion policy today and which is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year. With the removal of many of Europe's frontier posts, travelling freely across borders has become second nature for millions of EU citizens. European territorial cooperation has brought Europeans closer together, strengthened connectivity and improved the natural environment, supported by EU mechanisms such as the European groupings of territorial cooperation, and macro-regional strategies. Yet despite these achievements, numerous obstacles to closer cooperation still remain, such as divergent national rules in the areas of employment, healthcare and social security. Recent years have witnessed increased calls to address these hurdles, with the 2015 Luxembourg EU Presidency launching discussions on a new instrument for cross-border projects, leading to the 2018 European Commission proposal for a cross-border mechanism, and the Commission rolling out initiatives such as the cross-border review and the b-solutions project, which aims to identify and find solutions to remaining bottlenecks, helping to boost growth and cohesion in EU border regions. With negotiations under way on post-2020 cohesion policy, there is broad agreement among many stakeholders on the importance of strengthening Interreg beyond 2020. Yet the budget for ETC has been significantly reduced under the current Interreg proposals despite the many achievements of this policy, not least in recent months during which cross-border cooperation has provided a lifeline for many border regions. The coronavirus pandemic has revealed that territorial cooperation arguably needs protecting more than ever, with the sudden closure of EU internal borders a stark reminder that European territorial cooperation cannot be taken for granted. This is a further updated edition of a briefing from March 2018.

European territorial cooperation (Interreg) 2021-2027

24-08-2020

On 29 May 2018, the European Commission adopted several proposals aimed at defining the architecture of EU cohesion policy for the post-2020 programming period. The package includes a proposal for the new generation of European territorial cooperation (ETC) programmes, commonly referred to as 'Interreg'. The proposed regulation would bring significant changes to the current architecture of ETC, with the reshaping of the three traditional cooperation strands (i.e. cross-border, transnational and interregional ...

On 29 May 2018, the European Commission adopted several proposals aimed at defining the architecture of EU cohesion policy for the post-2020 programming period. The package includes a proposal for the new generation of European territorial cooperation (ETC) programmes, commonly referred to as 'Interreg'. The proposed regulation would bring significant changes to the current architecture of ETC, with the reshaping of the three traditional cooperation strands (i.e. cross-border, transnational and interregional cooperation) and the creation of two new components, one dedicated to outermost regions, the other to interregional cooperation on innovation. Another major novelty is the incorporation of cooperation with countries other than EU Member States. The proposal is being examined simultaneously by the Council and the European Parliament. In Parliament, the Committee on Regional Development (REGI) is responsible for the file. Parliament adopted its legislative resolution on the proposal at first reading on 26 March 2019, enabling trilogue negotiations to get under way with the Council. Third edition of a briefing originally drafted by Vivienne Halleux. The 'EU Legislation in Progress' briefings are updated at key stages throughout the legislative procedure.

Cross-border regional healthcare cooperation to combat the coronavirus pandemic

22-06-2020

The pandemic has led to a situation where the healthcare systems of European regions have been heavily over burdened, with more patients to treat than they have capacity for. Several healthcare projects between cross-border regions, funded by Interreg programmes, have contributed to the fight against the virus, in particular in regions of Germany, France, Italy and Spain, some of the worst affected EU Member States.

The pandemic has led to a situation where the healthcare systems of European regions have been heavily over burdened, with more patients to treat than they have capacity for. Several healthcare projects between cross-border regions, funded by Interreg programmes, have contributed to the fight against the virus, in particular in regions of Germany, France, Italy and Spain, some of the worst affected EU Member States.

Implementation of macro-regional strategies

20-02-2020

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 ...

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 8 third countries. Every two years, the European Commission publishes a report to assess the implementation of these strategies, most recently in 2019. 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 and the need to be more results oriented. This, in turn, has helped focus discussions on the future role of macro-regional strategies within the post 2020 cohesion policy framework. For while recent months have seen the idea of a fifth macro-regional strategy resurface, with negotiations now under way on the cohesion policy architecture beyond 2020, the future position of macro-regional strategies within this framework looks set to be the key issue in the coming months for all actors involved in the EU’s macro-regional strategies. Parliament has actively taken part in this debate, through its participation in trilogues on the cohesion policy package, and its 2018 resolution on the implementation of macro-regional strategies. The current Croatian EU Presidency has also committed to focusing on achieving the goals of macro-regional strategies and ensuring their complementarity with cohesion policy as part of its programme, helping to keep the issue high on the political agenda. Much will depend, however, on the outcome of the ongoing multiannual financial framework (MFF) negotiations, which will be critical not only for macro-regional strategies but also for the future shape of cohesion policy in general. This is an updated edition of a Briefing from September 2017.

Commitments made at the hearing of Kadri SIMSON, Commissioner-designate - Energy

22-11-2019

The commissioner-designate, Kadri Simson, appeared before the European Parliament on 03 October 2019 to answer questions from MEPs’ in the Committees on Industry, Research and Energy. During the hearing, she made a number of commitments which are highlighted in this document. These commitments refer to her portfolio, as described in the mission letter sent to her by Ursula von der Leyen, President-elect of the European Commission, including: - Safe, secure and sustainable energy; - Empowering people ...

The commissioner-designate, Kadri Simson, appeared before the European Parliament on 03 October 2019 to answer questions from MEPs’ in the Committees on Industry, Research and Energy. During the hearing, she made a number of commitments which are highlighted in this document. These commitments refer to her portfolio, as described in the mission letter sent to her by Ursula von der Leyen, President-elect of the European Commission, including: - Safe, secure and sustainable energy; - Empowering people and regions.

European research area (ERA) – Regional and cross-border perspectives

30-04-2019

The ERA is a coordination system for national research infrastructures, and itself constitutes an infrastructure designed to create a single market for science. The main implementing instrument for the ERA is the European Union (EU) framework programme for research and innovation (R&I), currently Horizon 2020, alongside national roadmaps for implementing the common priorities. While the ERA offers a way to improve joint programming for research and innovation activities, interaction between research ...

The ERA is a coordination system for national research infrastructures, and itself constitutes an infrastructure designed to create a single market for science. The main implementing instrument for the ERA is the European Union (EU) framework programme for research and innovation (R&I), currently Horizon 2020, alongside national roadmaps for implementing the common priorities. While the ERA offers a way to improve joint programming for research and innovation activities, interaction between research infrastructures, the use of public-public partnerships between Member States, the application of smart specialisation strategies (S3) and the mobility of researchers, challenges still remain. The Horizon 2020 focus on excellence as the main criterion for receiving funding – a requirement designed to cement the EU's reputation in science and its global competitiveness – has led to a concentration of funding as well as R&I capacities in some countries and regions, while increasing the (innovation) gap between EU-15 and EU-13 countries. Other main challenges include the absence of a clear, shared definition of the ERA concept, the multiplication of instruments, and the non-use of binding legislation for ERA implementation. One way to improve the ERA and to broaden participation and cohesion without undermining the criterion of excellence might be to enhance the interoperability between funding and programmes and to continue working on making the EU state aid rules more R&I-friendly.

Piracy and armed robbery off the coast of Africa: EU and global impact

19-03-2019

African maritime security is affected by a wide range of illegal activities. This paper focuses on maritime piracy and armed robbery at sea, examining the legal aspects and societal implications of these forms of violence. Maritime piracy and armed robbery off Africa's coasts also pose a threat to the European Union's security and economy. Since 2008, the European Union has been implementing a maritime security strategy by means of separate regional strategies in the Gulf of Aden and in the Gulf ...

African maritime security is affected by a wide range of illegal activities. This paper focuses on maritime piracy and armed robbery at sea, examining the legal aspects and societal implications of these forms of violence. Maritime piracy and armed robbery off Africa's coasts also pose a threat to the European Union's security and economy. Since 2008, the European Union has been implementing a maritime security strategy by means of separate regional strategies in the Gulf of Aden and in the Gulf of Guinea.

Mechanism to resolve legal and administrative obstacles in a cross-border context

25-01-2019

Often isolated, and with generally poorer access to public services, the EU's border regions face a unique set of challenges. This has been recognised under Article 174 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, which provides that particular attention should be paid to cross-border regions when developing action to strengthen the EU's economic, social and territorial cohesion. Yet while the EU has provided significant support over the years, particularly within the framework of European ...

Often isolated, and with generally poorer access to public services, the EU's border regions face a unique set of challenges. This has been recognised under Article 174 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, which provides that particular attention should be paid to cross-border regions when developing action to strengthen the EU's economic, social and territorial cohesion. Yet while the EU has provided significant support over the years, particularly within the framework of European territorial cooperation, helping to strengthen connectivity and create new growth and jobs, numerous obstacles continue to hamper cross-border cooperation. Organised to identify these remaining bottlenecks, the Commission's 2015 cross-border review revealed legal and administrative barriers to be the main obstacle to cross-border cooperation while, in parallel, the 2015 Luxembourg Presidency put forward plans for an EU cross-border mechanism, with an informal working group set up to develop the idea. Both processes have fed into discussions in recent years to create a mechanism for cross-border areas, leading to the current proposal, introduced as part of the multiannual financial framework's cohesion policy package. Second edition. The 'EU Legislation in Progress' briefings are updated at key stages throughout the legislative procedure.

Sector coupling: how can it be enhanced in the EU to foster grid stability and decarbonise?

19-11-2018

Sector coupling involves the increased integration of energy end-use and supply sectors with one another. This can improve the efficiency and flexibility of the energy system as well as its reliability and adequacy. Additionally, sector coupling can reduce the costs of decarbonisation. To foster the full potential of sector coupling in several end-use and supply applications, it is important that existing techno-economic, policy and regulatory barriers are removed. Furthermore, a more integrated ...

Sector coupling involves the increased integration of energy end-use and supply sectors with one another. This can improve the efficiency and flexibility of the energy system as well as its reliability and adequacy. Additionally, sector coupling can reduce the costs of decarbonisation. To foster the full potential of sector coupling in several end-use and supply applications, it is important that existing techno-economic, policy and regulatory barriers are removed. Furthermore, a more integrated approach to energy systems planning is needed. This document was provided by Policy Department A at the request of the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy.

Autor extern

Luc VAN NUFFEL, João GORENSTEIN DEDECCA, Tycho SMIT, Koen RADEMAEKERS, Trinomics B.V.

European Regional Development Fund, Cohesion Fund, a cross-border mechanism and Interreg

14-09-2018

The European Commission recently issued the legislative proposals for the spending programmes of the MFF 2021-2027, including the legislative package on cohesion policy. Three of these proposals (on the ERDF and the Cohesion fund, on a new mechanism for cross-border cooperation and on Interreg) are covered by one IA. It provides a good description of policy challenges and ‘lessons learned’ from previous programmes. Potential effects of proposed measures are, however, discussed rather generally, neglecting ...

The European Commission recently issued the legislative proposals for the spending programmes of the MFF 2021-2027, including the legislative package on cohesion policy. Three of these proposals (on the ERDF and the Cohesion fund, on a new mechanism for cross-border cooperation and on Interreg) are covered by one IA. It provides a good description of policy challenges and ‘lessons learned’ from previous programmes. Potential effects of proposed measures are, however, discussed rather generally, neglecting in particular social, environmental and other specific or indirect impacts. Additional explanations regarding the assumptions (and uncertainties) underlying the analysis would have increased the completeness, precision and accountability of the IA.

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