Zadar (HR), 20 February 2014
The Bureau members of the Assembly of European Regions (AER) symbolically chose the region of Zadar, Croatia, to hold their first meeting of the year, a few months after Croatia’s accession to the European Union. Among the priorities decided for the future, they announced the launch of a study about the role of the regions in 2014.
As the new programming period is starting, AER is indeed willing to look into the role that regional authorities actually play in European politics and in Europe in general in 2014. To what extent is the subsidiarity principle implemented in European countries? Have Regions seen their competences and influence developed in the last years? How does multilevel governance look like in the various European states? If we consider the case of EU regional policy, to what extent has the partnership principle been respected for the setting up and implementation of this key policy for European regions?
These questions will be at the heart of the study which will be run in 2014 and promoted in 2015, year of the 30th AER Anniversary.
The study will be coordinated by the AER Academic and Training Centre which was officially launched at a high historical place, the university of Zadar, which is the first Croatian university, built 620 years ago. This Centre will bring together under a single label all training activities proposed by the AER and act as a single point “one-stop-shop” on regionalisation in Europe.
5 experts professors from Zadar (HR), Fribourg (CH), Sofia (BG), Banska Bystrica (SK) and South Denmark (DK) have already accepted to bring a scientific contribution to the AER study on decentralisation. Present at the launch event, the Prefect of Zadar County and the Rector of Zadar University both underlined their conviction that the members of the university, professors but also students, will get engaged in the work of the Academic Centre.
Taking the opportunity of their presence in Zadar, AER members called the Croatian national government to adopt a bottom-up approach in their current plans for administrative and territorial reform. “You absolutely have to work hand in hand with your regions if you want to reach democratic and fair territorial structure. We, AER, know very well the situation in the country, as we gather 18 members in Croatia. We would be willing to be partner in your regionalisation process”, said AER President, Mrs Hande Özsan Bozatli.
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