From 6-9 October 2014, some 6,000 representatives from Europe's regions and cities will gather in Brussels for the 12th annual OPEN DAYS to exchange their views on how to make the reformed EU Cohesion Policy a reality for job creation and growth. The reform was spearheaded by European Commissioner for Regional Policy, Johannes Hahn. It has transformed the Policy into a modern and result-focussed investment tool for all European regions, and concentrated the bulk of resources on key sectors, such as innovation, SME competitiveness, information and communication technologies (ICT) and the shift to a low-carbon economy.
OPEN DAYS – the European Week of Regions and Cities, co-hosted by the European Commission and the Committee of the Regions offers an invaluable platform for discussion and debate on how the Member States' investment strategies for EU regional funding will help deliver on European goals and get regions growing again. The Partnership Agreements and Operational Programmes are currently being analysed by the Commission services to ensure a realistic and efficient plan is in place for the best use of funding.
Speaking ahead of the event, Commissioner Hahn commented: "This year’s OPEN DAYS is an important moment for regions and cities to consider how best to seize the opportunity that our reformed Cohesion Policy offers. We need to ensure the planned use of EU investments in Member States is going to deliver on Europe2020 goals, as we have designed it to do. In the Partnership Agreements and the Operational Programmes for 2014-2020 that we have seen so far, a clear shift is evident to investment in the "real" economy. This means support for SMEs, R&D and innovation, labour market measures, education, the fight against poverty and of course support for the low-carbon economy. We need to ensure that all regions across Europe do indeed 'grow together' and that carefully planned and inclusive strategies paving the way to future competitiveness are the starting point."
Committee of the Regions President Lebrun said " Regions and cities in the EU were responsible for one third of public expenditure over the past few years. Open Days will offer cohesion policy practitioners the opportunity to exchange best practices, whilst allowing them to feedback to decision-makers. This is part of our commitment to prevent any delay in implementing measures that are of the greatest relevance for our communities and to promote the sharing of the most effective solutions across Europe".
Under the slogan "Growing together – Smart investment for people" representatives of EU regional and local authorities will meet with experts, policy-makers and practitioners from the public and private sectors. One key topic at the event will be strengthening the institutional capacity of national authorities, which, according to the Sixth Cohesion Report, published in July 2014, will be receiving a 70% investment boost in 2014-2020, reflecting the increasing importance of sound governance to ensure the efficient use of public resources.
In the Partnership Agreements – of which 16 of 28 have already been adopted –encouraging trends emerge on planned EU investments to support innovation and small businesses, as well as an increase in the use of financial instruments. Crucially, investments for energy efficiency and renewables are expected to be up on €38 billion – which is more than double the amount invested in the low-carbon economy in 2007-2013.
With a total budget of around €352 billion for the 2014–2020 financial period, Cohesion Policy will play a vital role in key areas for sustainable, long-term growth such as innovation, support to SMEs, improving people's qualifications, social inclusion and energy. OPEN DAYS helps take the debate forward and turn ambitious goals into reality.
CoR President Lebrun and Commissioner Hahn will host a press point on October 6th at 13:00 in the Committee of the Regions.
Angel Gurría, Secretary-General of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development will hold a press point at 16:00 in the European Parliament press conference room on 6th October also on the occasion of the launch of two special reports:
· a summary of the "OECD's Regional Outlook 2014" including information on the impact of the crisis on regions, the state of sub–national finances and government reforms;
· an overview on the set of indicators behind the OECD's "Regional Well-being Report" including some applications for regions and cities in the EU.
A report on multilevel governance and partnership by special advisor to Commissioner Hahn, Luc Van den Brande - former President of the Committee of the regions - will also be launched and made available at the event.
The winners of the 2014 “ Europe in my region ” photo competition, from The Azores (Portugal), Latvia and Lithuania will be presented with their prizes by Commissioner Hahn on Wednesday 8th October at 11:45 in the Berlaymont building.
After a successful pilot at OPEN DAYS 2013, Master Class will return this year, gathering 30 PhD students and early career researchers in the field of regional and urban policy.
Alongside the Brussels seminars, over 300 events under banner ‘Europe in my region/ citly’ are being held until December 2014.
Shirin WheelerTel: +32 2 296 65 65Mobile: +32 460 766565Annemarie HuberTel: +32 2 299 33 10Mobile: +32 460 793310Pierluigi BodaTel: +32 2 2822461Mobile +32 473 851743