Ponta Delgada, Açores (P), 25 November 2011
Europe and its regions are in no position to go back in time or to delay global developments. But they can face this globalisation by capitalising on the benefits it produces and rebalancing its consequences: to serve economic but also social objectives. These are the conclusions of the debate “Mastering globalisation with the strength of the regions” which took place at the General Assembly of the Assembly of European Regions (AER). Attendees insisted on the need to develop inclusive growth as well as social and cultural innovation strategies so as to implement new policies, practices, and services able to face these challenges and to cope with global pressures. Successful economic development depends entirely on a strong social policy.
On economic growth, regions strongly commit themselves to small and medium sized enterprises in their internationalisation strategies. Through their large stakeholder networks, regions can identify entrepreneurs, help them to structure themselves and open up to external markets, accompany them in their development, and attract investments as well as qualified labour to their territories.
On social innovation, a region’s successful economic growth also depends on its capacity to guarantee social cohesion and an opportunity for all citizens to access education, follow through their entrepreneurial ideas and benefit from the opportunities offered by globalisation. Fostering social innovation, cultural diversity and social cohesion are key factors towards global competitiveness.
Throughout the debate, participants largely emphasised the importance of regional specificities, identified as a strong factor for attracting investors. Regions must make the most of the strengths that define them to stand out and to find their place in a globalised world. Regional identity also translates into the trust and adherence of all stakeholders to a common strategic vision.
« Cohesion: is the response that our regions can and must bring to the crisis. By coming closer together, deepening our integration, and sharing the solutions that we develop to face common problems, we will succeed in balancing competition between our territories through increased cooperation, and we will contribute to ending the crisis. The crisis served as a stark reminder of our interdependence and now serves as a catalyst: it calls for a de facto solidarity.” said Michèle SABBAN, AER President.
On his part, Carlos CÉSAR, President of the autonomous government of the Azores (P), warned that « Without a true regional policy on the European level, and without the promotion of our democratic capital, regional contributions, and interregional cooperation for global development, Europe will lose its cohesion, even if an issue can sometimes be resolved between Member States. The current crisis shows the need to act on all levels of European governance. We can thus assert that our mission, rather than being “think global, act local” should be “think regional, act regional. Move Europe forward” he concluded.
The President of the European Commission, José Manuel BARROSO, addressed his support to AER’s work in a message. He underlined the importance of regional dynamism in Europe in order to cope with a single and unique reality: interdependence.
Ponta Delgada declaration available online from Monday.
The Assembly of European Regions (AER – aer.eu) is the largest independent network of regions in wider Europe. Bringing together 270 regions from 34 countries and 16 interregional organisations, AER is the political voice of its members and a forum for interregional co-operation.
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