The AER develops its areas of action consistently with members’ priorities, EU policies and relevant trends in regional affairs in wider Europe. The AER Areas of Action are updated regularly and subject to changes.
European Year of Skills and Youth
2023 is the European Year of Skills. As EU Green Deal and Next Generation EU policies are on course to lift European society and economy, the processes of up-skilling and re-skilling are essential for citizens, businesses and public administrations to participate and profit from the digital and green transitions.
Young people must have the opportunity to co-create and participate in these processes. This is why the AER is committed to consolidating the link between the European Year of Skills and its work on youth empowerment. Read more here about how AER welcomes the European Year of Skills.
The AER is well equipped to boost the impact of the European Year of Skills because of its long lasting experience in working with its member regions and territorial stakeholders in supporting the creation of skills ecosystems, promoting innovation in the education and TVET sectors, as well as life-long learning, and addressing brain drain through skills development and retention in regions, especially in rural regions.
Skills for Youth Empowerment
YOUTHopia, where Cohesion gets Real for the NextGeneration
#HotlineChesion and YOUTHopia
Thanks to the partnership with CaféBabel, YOUTHopia will stretch across the territory of the whole Union. It will involve a regional actor from the EU south-easternmost tip (the Union of Cyprus Municipalities), moving across 4551 km to the north-westernmost part (Donegal County, Ireland), stopping in Eastern and Western Slovenia, and Košice Self-governing Region, Slovakia.
To reach the highest number of people possible, AER has also launched #HotlineCohesion series about funding opportunities for young people. Read what it is about here.
Commitment to Eurodyssey, the AER traineeship programme
- Managed directly by the regions, Eurodyssey aims to address the mismatch between labour demand and supply at local and regional levels.
Revival of the Youth Regional Network
Revival of the Youth Regional Network (YRN). The YRN is AER’s cross-regional youth platform promoting active participation at a regional level. After the pandemic hiatus, 2023 will be the year of YRN revival: on 10 March 2023, the YRN General Assembly gave new impetus to the voice of young people in regional and European affairs.
Skills for the Green Transition
Working Group on the Bioeconomy
The Working Group on Bioeconomy & Skills was established in Spring 2022 to enable interested regions to discuss opportunities and strategies in the area of the bioeconomy. Three main areas sparked the interest of participants:
- bio-based construction materials and techniques
- new food systems
- waste management: including clothes, digital waste (topic also relevant for food systems & construction)
In the context of the bioeconomy, where the industry, the value chain, the collaborations between stakeholders are new, there are major challenges in terms of skills: both to develop the right skills and to attract & retain skills in places where the industry is located.
Between March and May 2023, the AER plans to hold a matchmaking activity for EU projects in the field of bioeconomy and skills. This activity will allow member regions to exchange ideas and discuss on common areas of interest.
Working Group on Green Hydrogen
The AER Working Group on Green Hydrogen held its kick-off meeting on 13 March 2023 to define priorities and develop activities for the coming months. Chaired by Albert Castellanos, Secretary for Business and Competitiveness of the Government of Catalonia, the Working Group identified the following areas of interest:
- The hydrogen value chain: in particular how to involve businesses
- Decarbonisation of transports: transport carriers, trucks and buses
- Decarbonisation of the industry
- Green hydrogen production
- Support to or development of Hydrogen Valleys
In the coming months, the WG on Green Hydrogen will participate in several activities, including a study trip to the Port of Barcelona in the context of AER Summer Symposium in Barcelona.
EU-Belong & Includ-EU
The EU has established a variety of measures to incentivise and support national, regional, and local authorities as well as civil society in their efforts to promote integration and inclusion. In this framework, the EU Commission’s Action Plan on Integration and Inclusion 2021-2027 (the Action Plan) sets integration policy priorities, proposes concrete actions, provides guidance, and delineates funding opportunities to translate policy into practice in key areas of the integration process.
In line with this, the AER-led EU-Belong and Includ-EU projects can count on large networks of stakeholders and practitioners. They nurture a learning
community across Europe on intercultural integration policies and practices at the regional and
Both projects allow for exchange of good practices and
knowledge, enabling regional and local authorities to better respond to the needs of
migrants and refugees in their regions. In addition, EU-Belong aims to design and test replicable methodology for the development and implementation of regional intercultural strategies and initiatives.
The AER believes that sustainability must be a founding principle of every aspect of society, from economy to politics to civil society. This is why the AER established Task Forces to allow member regions to discuss different topics and engage the relevant institutional counterparts. Read more about the two new Task Forces on the Future of Work and on Active Citizenship and discover how to join!
EU Cohesion Policy
The AER is a member of the Cohesion Alliance, a coalition of individuals, organisations and institutions sponsored by the Committee of the Regions (CoR), that believe that EU Cohesion Policy must continue to be a pillar of the EU’s future. As the Union faces unprecedented external and internal challenges, AER is committed to upholding Cohesion Policy as a key objective of all EU policies.
As the EU elections 2024 approach, the AER is stepping up its involvement in supporting the Committee of the Regions on the new Cohesion Alliance (CA). This is a joint initiative of the European Committee of the Regions and leading European territorial associations, aiming to promote a strong cohesion policy beyond 2027.