'The ambitious objectives of the Lisbon Strategy will only be reached through coherent European policies and the EU budget adapted to the challenges emerging from the last enlargement and globalisation', stated Onno Hoes, Regional Minister of Noord-Brabant (NL) and Chairman of Regional policies' Committee of the Assembly of European Regions (AER).
Over 45 European regions, who attended the plenary meeting of the AER Regional policies' Committee on 6th May in Ponta Dalgada (Açores-P), highlighted the key role played by the EU cohesion policy in implementing the Lisbon Agenda and the need for true co-ordination between this policy and other major EU policies, such as competition and transport policies.
'The Ryanair/Charleroi Airport case has served as an example of the impact of such a lack of coordination. The European Commission heard our arguments and thanks to our active lobbing, the draft EC guidelines on the financing of airports, which represent driving force behind regional development, are currently under revision', pointed out Klaus Klipp, AER Secretary General, while reporting on a meeting with the Commissioner Barrot's Head of Cabinet on 3rd May in Brussels.
Concerning the EU financial perspectives 2007-2013 currently under negotiations, the AER Regional policies' Committee underlined that a step back from the EC initial proposal based on 1,24% of GDP would jeopardize the EU cohesion policy, and in particular the new competitiveness objective. 'The efficiency of this objective in implementing the Lisbon Agenda will also depend on the capacity of the European Union to enhance potentials of economic development that exist in the regions', said Onno Hoes, while insisting on the commitment of the European regions to make Europe more competitive, with better growth and more jobs.
In this context, the AER Regional policies' Committee decided to set up, within its structure, a new Working Group on Regional economic development'. Its vocation: to allow the AER member regions to identify the key factors of regional competitiveness today and to establish genuine regional development strategies which respond to the Lisbon objectives, by promoting best practices and a common work at European level. The Group will be supported by a co-operation with other acknowledged stakeholders such as the European Association of Regional Development Agencies (Eurada).
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