Smart Cities - towards a European Economic Revival through Civic Innovation

Is globalization levelling creativity? - Henry Malosse, President of EESC

                                

            One of the greatest challenges facing the EU is how best to design and adapt cities into smart and sustainable environments. Nearly 70% of the EU population lives in urban areas, and this figure is likely to increase over the next few decades. Rapid urbanisation, congestion, strained infrastructure and pollution are threats which concern not only policy makers but the civil society overall.

At the same time, cities generate enormous amounts of data and services are more interconnected than ever. Smart and innovative urban technologies are being developed at a fast pace and can make a major contribution to tackling many urban challenges, improve sustainability and deliver better services to citizens.

The Venice Declaration for a more Digital Union presented by the Italian Presidency and the European Commission on 8th July 2014 put the digital economy at the heart of the EU growth strategy. As "laboratories for a more dynamic, digital Europe”, cities are best placed to take the digital agenda forward. They are engines of economic growth, with enormous potential for advanced social progress and environmental regeneration based on a holistic integrated approach in which all aspects of sustainability are taken into account.

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#59 #ECOS: ONE DAY AT COR WITH PRESIDENT D’ALFONSO

This Monday, 15th September, the President of the Abruzzo Region has come here in Brussels to take part to his second ECOS meeting as a Member of the CoR.

Among the other institutions, the Committee of Regions represents local authorities, such as regions, provinces and municipalities, without the intermediation of the States, so that they can make their voices heard in the decisional procedure.

President of Abruzzo, Mr Luciano D'Alfonso

In particular, the ECOS produces a relevant  but not binding opinion concerning employment and innovation. President D'Alfonso has intervened to discuss the matters scheduled on the agenda, to vote on the presented opinions and on their amendments.

Read more: #59 #ECOS: ONE DAY AT COR WITH PRESIDENT D’ALFONSO

OPEN DAYS 2014 "EU strategy for the Adriatic and Ionian Region: The role the regions in implementation“

OPEN DAYS 2014 Conference „ EU strategy for the Adriatic and Ionian Region: The role the regions in implementation“ was opened in European Parliament in Brussels on October 7th by Dubrovnik Neretva County's Prefect Nikola Dobroslavić, who explained the importance of Dubrovnik Neretva County in the cooperation of Adriatic – Ionian macroregion with partners from other regions. He advocated the implementation of joint projects and secured the spot in the special EU budget for Adriatic – Ionian Region Strategy.

The role of coastal counties, municipalities and cities in multilevel coordination of the Strategy was pointed out together with implementation of it's four pillars: 

  • blue growth,
  • regional connecting, 
  • environmental quality,
  • sustainable tourism. 

Prefect suggested to include Macedonia and Kosovo in the joint activities within the Strategy's framework and he also put an emphasis on the necessity of better traffic connectivity between participant countries and last but not the least; to build the Adriatic Ionian motorway which would greatly improve economic growth of participant countries.

EU Strategy for Adriatic Ionian region encompasses four EU member states (Croatia, Slovenia, Greece and Italy) and four southeastern European countries (Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Serbia and Albania).

Speakers on the conference were Colin Wolfe, Head of Unit for European Transnational and Interregional Cooperation for European Commission, Gian Mario Spacca, President of Marche Region and CoR reporter for EUSAIR, Rossella Rusca, Representative of the Italian Presidency of the Council of the European and Mato Škrabalo, Permanent Representative of the Republic of Croatia to the European Union. Representatives for regions from Croatia, Greece, Slovenia, Italy, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Albania and Montenegro also actively participated in the discussions. In particular, the President of Abruzzo Region Luciano D'Alfonso, speaker in the pillar "environmental quality", strongly defended the importance of having a common Adriatic strategy to tackle the issues threatening  our Sea. 

It was very challenging and indeed stimulating for us participating in the organization of such a big event as this one. At the end of the day, Marina and I were both very satisfied and tired, deeply happy that cooperation between our Regions is strengthening... for our future.

Marina & Cristiana, EVSers. 

Brussels Based Regional Offices

What’s a regional office?

The regions with an office in Brussels, individually or in association with other local authorities, are 194. In percentage terms, this means that 71% of European regions has a representative office in Brussels.

Brussels can indeed be considered the world capital of lobbying for local and regional authorities. The activities of their representations in Brussels, present, however, a specific profile that partly distinguishes them from classic interest groups and lobbies. The activities of regional representations in Brussels are broader and not focused solely on direct lobbying and interest representation. Regional offices were set up in Brussels for a variety of different reasons: some primarily sought funding, others were determined to play a significant political role at EU-level and some regions were primarily seeking a pied à terre to raise their profile and connect with networks and a supranational community in proximity of the EU institutions. What ever the initial motives were to come to Brussels, today the offices have converged on a similar set of goals and activities. They have become much more uniform in that they all combine a broad range of activities and all seek to inform, network, lobby, liaise and market for their regions. The regions with legislative powers constitute a separate category that focuses primarily on influencing policies, given that their preferential access to the European Council of Ministers and Commission allows to do so effectively. However, the activities of these regions’ representation are also converging with the other offices’ practices. The diversified range of functions that regional offices fulfil is one of the reasons why they are likely to be permanent fixtures in Brussels. Their presence is not dependent on the availability of EU funds or the COR’s political influence. The varied tasks that they perform make them relevant and useful to their home regions even if certain policy changes or the end of funding opportunities force the regional offices to reorient their foci.

Source: http://www.brusselsstudies.be/medias/publications/EN_57_BruS16EN.pdf

Brussels Based Regional Offices list:

http://cor.europa.eu/en/regions/Documents/regional-offices.xls 

European Regions

European Regions

Cohesion policy covers every region in the EU. However, most of the funds are targeted where they are most needed: at regions with a GDP per capita under 75% of the EU average. 

How are regions defined?

Cohesion policy uses the EU's NUTS system, which divides each country into three levels of statistical units (NUTS regions), according to population size.The EU is currently divided into 274 'level 2' regions.

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  1. Committee of the Regions