Shortly before the publication of the European Commission communication on the future of smart specialisation strategies, the European Committee of the Regions (CoR) has published its territorial impact report on smart specialisation . The report was carried out earlier this year as a part of an EU programme aiming to guarantee the effectiveness of cohesion, investment and territorial development policies. It follows the recently adopted opinion on the matter.
Experts of the Territorial Impact Assessment workshop looked at the potential economic, social, environmental, and governance impact of smart specialisation strategies. They concluded that such strategies could have a significant territorial impact, particularly with regard to economic, social and territorial cohesion by improving competitiveness and performance of Europe's regions. The Smart Specialisation Platform – which was established by the European Commission in 2011 to assist Member States and regions to develop, implement and review their strategies – is deemed as an excellent tool for knowledge sharing and innovation, also in the public sector. The territorial impact of smart specialisation in improving local governance and public services can be also detected.
However, there is a lot to be done right now - before setting the rules for the next programming period - to promote innovation strategies. Policymakers need to define a coordinated approach of Smart Specialisation guiding the overall direction of Europe to bring the various opportunities for cooperation under a strategic approach. Different policies promoting regional and innovation policies, as well as the financial instruments and programmes backing those policies, have to become fit for synergies. Experts also noted that different approach to smart specialisation might be needed to suit different regions in terms of boosting investment, skills and administrative capacity. In particular, when it comes to creating opportunities in regions without already existing vibrant industry or innovation ecosystem, providing access to education and skills and the capacity of up-scaling business in a niche area is a precondition.
Markku Markkula , President of the European Committee of the Regions, stressed: "Smart specialisation has proven to be a successful policy process to create regional innovation ecosystems and to boost sustainable growth. It will be an essential instrument in renewing the European policy, especially increasing the positive economic outcomes and societal impact of cohesion funding. Smart specialisation – as a partnership policy instrument for regions - is crucial in promoting wellbeing and job creation through research and innovation."
The CoR adopted in March its recommendations for the future framework covering smart specialisation strategies. Rapporteur of the opinion Mikel Irujo Amezaga (ES/EA), Head of Navarra delegation in Brussels, said: "The territorial impact assessment of the CoR has proven that smart specialisation can make a difference in regional development. There are however a number of obstacles to overcome to allow better co-operation between Europe's cities and regions and in creating more synergies with other EU programmes."
The European Commission will discuss the main findings of the communication at the Smart Regions 2.0 conference in Helsinki on 1–2 June. President Markkula and CoR rapporteur Irujo are among the speakers at the conference.
Notes to editors:
The main goal of the CoR's initiative on Territorial Impact Assessments (TIA) is to improve EU policymaking by ensuring the taking into account of potential (asymmetric) territorial impacts of EU legislative and policy proposals on territories and on local and regional authorities. Consequently, the CoR promotes a systematic application of TIA during the Impact Assessment phase of the Commission.
TIA methodologies have been developed by the CoR in cooperation with its partners from ESPON (European Observation Network for Territorial Development and Cohesion) and the European Commission's DG REGIO and DG JRC. The objective of the ESPON 2020 Cooperation Programme is to support the reinforcement of the effectiveness of EU Cohesion Policy and other sectoral policies and programmes under European Structural Investment (ESI) funds as well as national and regional territorial development policies, through the production, dissemination and promotion of territorial evidence.
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