Eger, Heves county (H), 15 October 2004
On 14 and 15 October, the Assembly of European Regions and the Region of Heves – Hungary – held a Conference on the Future of Cohesion Policy in an Enlarged Europe, on the initiative of its Committee C “Regional Policies”. This large event was attended by more than 220 persons, representing more than 90 regional and local authorities, interregional associations and national and European authorities. This Conference was organised in the framework of the Centurio programme, an AER-led Interreg IIIC project, gathering almost 50 regions.
On the eve of the Conference, a technical seminar gave the participants the opportunity to share experiences in the field of structural fund management and exchange their points of view relating to the simplification and decentralisation measures proposed by the European Commission in the new regulations on structural funds. Their input was then discussed in the political Conference on Friday, October 15th.
The Conference focused on the reform of EU cohesion policy, especially the future coordination between this policy and the other EC policies. Mr Lambert Van Nistelrooij, Member of the European Parliament, Member of the Committee for Regional Policy and substitute in the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy insisted on the necessity to create consistent bridges between the future structural funds and the research programmes, so as to improve coordination of the various programmes and projects in these two fields and promote the knowledge economy in all European Regions.
The regions also have particularly insisted on the positive outcome of Interreg IIIC and expressed their worries regarding the future of interregional cooperation according to the European Commission’s proposals. On Friday afternoon, the Regions had the opportunity to discuss with Mr Commissioner Péter Bálazs, who highlighted the fact that Regions must be better involved in cohesion and regional policy and that interregional cooperation should be better encouraged. Mr Bálazs emphasised the idea that Regions have similar difficulties and their further involvement in cohesion policy is definitely a means to overcome the numerous contradictions between Member States in this field and make this policy more efficient.
A draft resolution is currently being discussed and should be available to the public in early November. The Assembly of European Regions is planning to meet Ms Commissioner Hübner, in order to discuss this document.
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