This article was published under the 2015-2020 European Committee of the Regions mandate.
Macroregional strategies (MRS) are proving able to deliver growth and improve cohesion of neighbouring regions from both EU and non-EU countries, faced by common challenges.
This report concerns the referral from the Romanian Presidency and the upcoming European Commission report on the implementation of macro-regional strategies expected to be issued on 13 December. This referral will look at the implementation of macro-regional strategies, with a particular focus on the Danube strategy and the issue of clusters.
Dainis Turlais supports the inclusion in the recent Council conclusions regarding the advantage of the links between smart specialisation strategies and clusters. Turlais: “I agree with the Council that this would help to better connect ecosystems as well as industrial and innovation policies within macro-regional strategies. I therefore call for funding for cooperation in smart specialisation throughout the EU in the next Interreg budget”.
Our rapporteur also endorses the emphasis in the conclusions of the further involvement of the relevant services of the European Commission in macro-regional strategies: “There is a need to ensure greater coordination not only between countries and within each country, but also at the EU level. Macro-regional strategies relate to many policy areas and their development is not exclusively linked to EU policy on territorial cooperation. Macro-regional strategies would therefore benefit from greater coordination between the different funding instruments available to them and managed by different Directorates General.”
Turlais is pleased that the conclusions make reference to the importance of increasing involvement, commitment and ownership of stakeholders and partners at local and regional level, as part of a bottom-up approach. This approach would bring an increasing awareness of and a feeling of inclusion in the EU. He also supports the conclusion of the Council regarding the importance of continuing to use macro-regional strategies as a strategic framework promoting more coherent and synergic implementation of EU policies, programmes and funds.
The commission for Territorial Cohesion Policy and EU Budget (COTER) of the European Committee of the regions (CoR) gathered in Cluj, Romania’s third largest city. Local leaders assessed the impact of macroregional strategies in the report led by Dainis Turlais. The experience developed in the Danube basin shows how macroregions can be an excellent tool for bottom-up territorial coordination, involving all levels of government without creating new red tape.
“Macroregional strategies are improving public services, natural resource management, innovation strategies and many other aspects in the life of involved local communities”, said the rapporteur, adding at the same time that: “a stronger coordination is needed both at EU level, with a better integration of different funding tools and a stronger cooperation of all relevant Directorates of the European Commission”.
Looking at improving coordination at national level, COTER members identified the network of national authorities implementing the European Regional Development Fund in the Baltic Sea Region as a model to replicate in other sectoral policies and geographical areas.