In these troubled times of crisis, when confidence in public institutions is decreasing and there is a tendency for everyone to focus efforts on their own communities, regions have to be the leaders for change. The end goal of regional authorities must always primarily be to make their territory the best possible place to live for their citizens. To this end, they need to improve the services they deliver to the people in order to keep their trust.
The AER’s mission is to address regional political concerns and foster leadership excellence, in order to provide services for better decision-making and offering visibility to regions in Europe. The objective is to make regions a driving force for political, economic and social development, with a view to accomplishing a multi-player Europe. Our guiding principle is subsidiarity.
To this end, the AER fosters interregional cooperation: this means working together on common projects, sharing and transferring best practices and learn new methods and ideas to enrich regional policies.
The AER must be a driving force in the field of governance, territorial reform and (re)definition of regions’ competences, building on the experience of its members and on its guiding principles. An example of this is the lobbying work carried out by the AER towards the main European institutions, aiming to integrate a territorial dimension into the centre of all policies designed at the European and international level.
In accordance with its mission, decentralisation, youth and equal opportunities, remain key transversal issues that are an integral part of the AER DNA.
In this context, here are the AER priorities for 2015-2017 :
Supporting regions in ensuring a sustainable future for all
Supporting regions for fostering a more sustainable growth and investing in future generations
The AER aims at fostering economic development for all regions and at supporting regions in ensuring the sustainability of their policies, from a social and environmental perspective. This encompasses issues such as territorial planning and environment, sustainable strategic choices in energy policies, but also regional policies dedicated to youth, neighbourhood policy actions and responsible social choices. This aims at providing equal opportunities for all citizens, as well as education measures to strengthen the future generations. For regions to perform better in these areas, resources are needed: the AER will remain vigilant on the implementation of the European Union cohesion policy and will start reflecting on the future of this policy after 2020.
Supporting employment policies in European regions
The AER has made it a priority to support employment in all European Regions. Regions act in the field of education, training and entrepreneurship and many AER activities will continue to help regions in their fight against unemployment.
Building a sustainable future also means peace and stability in the wider Europe
The AER contributes to ensuring continued dialogue between countries at war or stuck in frozen conflicts. Hence the importance of the work performed in the framework of the neighbourhood policy, around the Black Sea, the Mediterranean areas and for the Eastern Partnership.
Sharing regional policies that improve wellbeing
Any strategy does not and should not only make regions an attractive place for businesses and investments, but first and foremost for its inhabitants
The attractiveness of a territory, in terms of transport, health and social policies, attitude to new businesses, leisure, culture, is a key for economic development but also for the wellbeing of citizens. In our old European societies, this means also to take concrete measures on demographic change and AER should support its member regions in this respect.
Supporting integrative forces within the regions
The AER focuses on creating inclusive societies that will encourage citizens’ participation to public life, prompt them into starting new businesses and become genuine integration drivers. Inclusion comes through education, equal opportunities and employment: 3 key topics that are central to the AER. Territorial integration is not sidelined either: this includes transport and communication policies, and maintaining public services in rural or disfavoured areas. Territorial cohesion is a condition for social inclusion.
The AER may also focus on issues relating to both the integration of asylum and refugee reception and integration in general.
Making European Regions the connecting link between Europe and citizens, while increasing the link between the European Regions
Promoting multi-stakeholder approaches, cooperating with different parts of the society: this is what partnership is about
Working with youth, empowering citizens via innovative participatory approaches, listening to business owners and investors and understanding what their needs and expectations are, reflecting on regional media, to maintain proximity information and mix it with more macro information, thus introducing Europe at the local level, finding new ways to deliver public services to all the citizens.
Interregional partnership and cooperation remains at the heart of AER actions
Making AER the connecting link among regions also means contributing to their attractiveness, notably through enhancing the connectivity of territories and citizens, via the Trans-European Transport Networks, among other initiatives.
Using networks and interconnections to boost the regions’ innovation potential
AER, as a network, is a key tool for interconnection of stakeholders at international level. By sharing best practices and making AER members interact with each other, by raising the international profile of European regions and bringing them the necessary support for change management, AER is fostering innovation and economic cooperation on the territories. Regions are drivers for innovation, for example in healthy ageing, adapt to the digital agenda and cooperate via many different EU programmes on innovation strategies. AER’s mission is to aggregate all this energy and knowledge and disseminate it all over Europe.
Multiculturalism is also an innovation vector: intercultural dialogue, interregional exchanges, promoting language and cultural diversity are at the core of AER action.
Accompanying youth towards better involvement and participation in public life
The AER promotes the foundation of youth councils and other types of youth representative organizations and supports the development of education systems so as to increase youth participation. In line with the priorities of the EU and UN, the AER sees youth, and working with youth, as the key to growth, success and sustainability, as well as to a wealthy society with proper jobs.
With these priorities, the AER aims at making our regions stronger. Using its different tools, the AER is gathering, capitalising and disseminating its members’ expertise and also contributes to actively train regional teams throughout wider Europe.