Wels, Oberösterreich (A), 2 March 2006
The World Sustainable Energy Days ended today on a positive note for the future of sustainable energy sources. The Assembly of European Regions (AER) was partner of this summit which brought together during three days in Wels (Oberösterreich-A) 930 experts, among them many representatives of energy agencies and regional and local authorities. The AER co-organised and chaired the debate on green electricity for Europe’s regions. ‘Rising oil prices and the recent disruption of gas supply from Russia have all highlighted Europe’s dependence in the field of energy and a crucial need to develop a true common energy policy. It is really urgent to secure our energy supplies and to develop our self-sufficiency in this field, that uphold our economic development model’ stated Kent Ögren, Chairman of the County Council of Norrbotten-S and Vice-President of the interregional network on energy and research of the AER.
‘This energy crisis has also made it clear that regional autonomy and further economic development of the regions depend on efficient decentralised energy policies, on strategies for renewable and alternative sources of energy, as well as on appropriate actions in promoting energy efficiency and reducing energy consumption. We therefore welcome the EU institutions willingness to take up the issue,’ pointed out Agnès Ciccarone, Policy coordinator for the AER Committee ‘Regional policies’. ‘As far as they are concerned, the European regions, even those which do not have a clear competence in this field, are already mobilised in order to increase their self-sufficiency. No doubt that the Declaration we have just signed will strongly contribute to that goal’ concluded Kent Ögren.
Launched at the initiative of the OÖ Energiesparverband, main organiser of the World Days, this Declaration of the European Regions states that “We, the undersigned regional and local governments, have made a commitment to increasing our share of renewable energy, and to boosting energy efficiency in our regions”. The AER fully associates itself in this Declaration, which will contribute to environment and climate protection, regional job creation and economic growth, as well as to social cohesion. The Declaration will be the corner stone of the AER Energy Campaign. The AER will now invite not only its 255 member regions but also other regions from the EU and neighbouring countries to join this campaign and its interregional network on energy and research, in order to foster the exchange of know-how and experience in this field, as well as to identify the opportunities for co-funding of interregional projects.
The launch of the AER Energy Campaign has now be given. Further steps include the promotion of regional best practices in the field of renewable and alternative energies through seminars and online databases. The next seminar will be held on 20th and 21st April in Valencia-E. The AER will also assist its member regions in the setting up of interregional projects; it will help them to benefit from co-funding opportunities which will be numerous from 2007 onwards, especially through the 7th Framework programme on research and development (FP7) and the new Programme for competitiveness and innovation (PCI).
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