"European competitiveness and entrepreneurship will not improve unless they can build on existing conditions and opportunities in Europe's regions, towns and municipalities", said Mrs Catarina Segersten Larsson, Chair of the Värmland County Council Executive Committee (S), at the conference on 'the Role of the regions in Europe: a Scenario for 2010', organised by the Assembly of European Regions (AER) in Dubrovnik on 29th April.
In her contribution "The Lisbon Strategy: the role of the regions in creating the world's most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy by 2010", Mrs Segersten Larsson pointed out that it is crucial for achieving the ambitious goals of the Lisbon Agenda that the EU develop more grass-roots perspectives in all European policies and that the regions accept their responsibility in this process and contribute in practical terms to its implementation.
Mrs Segersten Larsson insisted on a two-way approach to the implementation of the Lisbon Agenda on the regional level: improving regional competitiveness and developing public-private partnerships (PPP). Referring to the discussion paper by Mr Anders Gustâv, Chair of the ECOS, Committee of the Regions, which will be presented next week: "Europe needs more entrepreneurs and successful small businesses. Most new companies start out as small-scale local businesses. As public players and democratic institutions, the local and the regional authorities have an important influence on the soil that companies take root in and the climate that helps them to flourish" she highlighted.
Among other solutions, Mrs Segersten Larsson put forward:
-the development of cooperation with universities and colleges in order to promote higher education and disseminate research results,
-encouraging educational institutions, companies and employees to pull together in order to advance life-long learning,
-the promotion of public procurement an active, transparent instrument for promoting competition,
-the promotion of a culture of enterprise by introducing entrepreneurship in schools both as a specific subject and as an integral part of the curriculum
-the improvement of public communications in order to facilitate labour mobility,
-to ensure ease of access to local and regional transport systems as well as to broadband services.
Regarding the development of Public-Private Partnership on which Mrs Segersten Larsson has been rapporteur on behalf of the Committee of the Regions, she said that "public and private parties can no longer view themselves as conflicting parties, but on the contrary new forms ofr collaboration must be given scope to develop where both parties can participate and assume responsibility, share risks and simultaneously develop services in the best interests of the citizens".
Contact: Mrs Catarina Segersten Larsson or Ulla Hoglund, Värmland County Council, Tel: +46 70 627 48 66
Download the 'White Paper' and Mrs Larsson's speech below: