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EU policies and funds need to be shaped by local and regional experiences
​Oldřich Vlasák

During its 115th plenary session, the Committee of the Regions adopted the report on "Territorial Vision 2050: What future?" , prepared by Oldřich Vlasák (CZ/ECR), Councillor of the City of Hradec Králové. Welcoming efforts by Luxembourg's EU Presidency to launch a discussion on a territorial vision for 2050, the report calls for a stronger bottom-up approach to EU policies and for existing funds and policies to be streamlined and simplified.

"We are pleased that the Luxembourg Presidency has got the ball moving and consulted local and regional authorities on this important matter. It is now time for a Europe-wide consultation to look concretely at how we can make better use of local and regional data to guide EU policies and help them to have a greater impact," said Mr Vlasák.

Rapporteur Vlasák's report highlights that a clear European territorial vision is necessary in order to respond effectively to current and future trends and challenges. This vision should strengthen the territorial dimension in policy-making by using a results-oriented territorial dialogue and the expertise of local and regional authorities to identify and address the key territorial challenges of the European Union. The rapporteur underlined that "we need to use local and regional realities to shape EU policies. The territorial vision should provide guidance to all EU policies that have a territorial dimension." The report underlines that territorial vision needs to be used to help shape the post-2020 period for EU Funds.

A bottom-up approach would mean shaping EU policies based on local and regional realities. Our local and regional authorities would therefore also have a greater say in the design and management of European projects and policies. The report underlines the need for Europe 2020 (EU's growth strategy) to be shaped bottom-up so that the targets better account for the local implications they have. "Europe 2020 is an excessively technocratic and top-down exercise. The targets are in many cases the responsibility of local and regional government, yet they are developed with very little contribution from us."

To help build policies from the bottom-up, the CoR calls for greater involvement of local and regional authorities and greater investment in data. "We need data from cities and regions to reinforce the territorial approach in policy-making", said Mr Vlasák. He requested the European Union and the EU's member states to invest in acquiring the missing statistical data and develop simple data collection methods at the lowest administrative level without creating additional administrative burdens. "We really do need to decrease the administrative burden connected with collection of statistical data and reporting" Mr Vlasák emphasised. Without a complete and evolving picture of the European Union's regions, it is impossible to create policies that address effectively the challenges faced by regions and cities.

Furthermore, the EU and its member states need to make Territorial Impact Assessments a standard part of the policy-making process. If the possible asymmetric effects of the EU and national policies are not taken into account, these policies can never be sufficiently efficient or effective, potentially resulting in unwanted effects. The report also draws attention to the advantages and benefits of applying the place-based approach and collaborative policy-making approach, whose essential elements concern the integration of sectors in a particular territorial strategy and a results-oriented territorial dialogue. If implemented effectively, the place-based approach makes it possible to value and revive territorial identity and territorial specificities as a unique asset.

Branislav Stanicek
Tel. 0473 843 983 

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