‘Interregional cooperation is essential for the future of cohesion policy. We of course regret the discontinuation of the INTERREG label and the significant reduction in the support granted to interregional cooperation, but we wish more than ever to move forward. We therefore propose that all stakeholders meet to put forward innovative proposals on how the European Union can support and promote this cooperation, on the basis of a flexible and bottom-up approach’. These are the words addressed today by Adrien Zeller, Vice-President of the Assembly of European Regions (AER) and President of the Regional Council of Alsace-F, to Danuta Hübner, European Commissioner for Regional Policy, in presence of Jean-Paul Heider, Vice-President of the Regional Council of Alsace. Commissioner Hübner agreed and regretted the limited role granted to interregional cooperation, and declared she was open to discussion in order to improve the situation. Mr Zeller and Mrs Hübner both said that “if the money is correctly used, interregional cooperation is a marvellous tool for regional development and therefore, for the future of Europe”.
The AER also mentioned the coordination between the Lisbon Strategy and cohesion policy. It welcomes the efforts already made to strengthen the links between R&D and cohesion policy. But one should not forget rural areas and their inclusion in the frame of the ‘Competitiveness and Employment’ Objective. Answering to this concern, Commissioner Hübner clearly underlined that innovation is not limited to high technologies. “We approve these statements and we will follow these developments and opportunities for our rural regions” said Klaus Klipp, Secretary General of the AER.
The AER Vice-President proposed Commissioner Hübner that the globalisation fund related to delocalisation risks should be managed through the ERDF system instead of the national level. “Such a decision would show the will of the Union to go towards more democracy and transparency” said Adrien Zeller.
Klaus Klipp gave the following final message to Commissioner Hübner: ‘The AER calls on the European Commission to continue its efforts for a more complete implementation of the partnership principle. Regional policy is the area in which it is most evident to apply the subsidiarity principle. Decisions should be taken as close as possible to the citizens and not by transferring the entirety of the EU’s competencies to central governments, without guaranteeing partnership with sub-national authorities. The final aim is to make Europe more and more favourable to the citizens and their daily lives. Therefore, we equally call on Member States to continue the process of decentralising the management of the structural funds, in order to achieve greater efficiency and to encourage project leaders,’ he concluded the meeting.
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