Strengthening innovation in Europe's regions through smart specialisation and a strong cohesion policy  
Strengthening innovation in Europe's regions through smart specialisation and a strong cohesion policy

Markku Markkula, President of the European Committee of the Regions, has endorsed the European Commission's communication "Strengthening Innovation in Europe's Regions", which proposes a set of actions to further help Europe's regions, invest in smart specialisation and generate the innovation, resilience and growth needed in the era of globalisation.

"The European Committee of the Regions has been working closely together with the European Commission, particularly Commissioners Corina Creţu, Carlos Moedas and Vice-President Jyrki Katainen, to help our regions embrace innovation, invest in their areas of competitive strength and to create successful regional innovation ecosystems. Introducing a tailored innovation strategy on smart specialisation in each region has started an inclusive and bottom-up revolution pushing innovation-led growth policies all across Europe. The policy guidelines and measures announced by the Commission yesterday, are a strong signal for place-based, sustainable growth, as defined in our recent CoR opinions on cohesion policy and smart specialisation," President Markkula said.

"We are particularly happy that the Commission is proposing targeted support for regions facing industrial transition and for interregional innovation partnerships, such as the Vanguard Initiative. We must ensure that all cities and regions will be able to respond to industrial and societal change. Smart specialisation strategies are above all economic transformation agendas at regional level. Our Committee has signalled the importance of creating value chains across European regions on many occasions and most recently alongside Commissioner Mariya Gabriel at the Estonian Presidency's Digital Single Market Conference in Tallinn. This new development will allow regions and cities to use the latest knowledge and best practices for scaling up crucial European partnerships," he continued.

President Markkula also pointed out the need to fully exploit all the synergies between the different EU instruments for research and innovation as well as for regional development, highlighting the role of cohesion policy as the EU's main investment tool. "The work done by each region to shape and launch their own strategies contributes to a substantial upgrade of the EU's cohesion policy as a whole and boosts the integration of all available public and private investment tools. The smart specialisation strategy exercise clearly shows how vital it is to invest in a stronger cohesion policy; it is a unique and unreplaceable vehicle to spread innovation to every corner of the Union. While the EU can promote and fund excellence and top-performing projects, cohesion policy is crucial when it comes to promoting a shared, massive participatory and inclusive change," he concluded.

Background information

During the July Plenary Session, Members of the European Committee of the Regions elected Karl-Heinz Lambertz (PES), Senator of the German-speaking Community of Belgium, to become their new President from 26 July. Markku Markkula will take over as the CoR's First Vice-President.

Relevant CoR opinions and other documents:

Lauri Ouvinen
Tel. +32 22822063