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Local and Regional Dialogues on Cohesion Policy

Cohesion policy - 24.07.2018

10 takeaways from our ‘local and regional dialogues’
Are people in your area aware of how the EU invests in their town or region? Do they know what cohesion policy is? According to the EU’s own research, they don’t seem to.

Cohesion policy, through which the EU invests millions in our towns and regions, is at risk. Those who benefit from it, EU citizens, need to know what’s at stake. That’s why CEMR decided to join forces with the Commission to launch ‘local and regional dialogues’. In these dialogues, citizens from towns and regions across Europe discuss the value of cohesion policy.

This project started half a year ago, and 30 dialogues have already taken place with the support of CEMR member associations. What has been coming out of the discussions so far? To find out, read our 10 takeaways below.

10 TAKEWAYS
 
  1. Citizens are becoming more aware of opportunities available to them. The dialogues provide information to citizens on the opportunities cohesion funds provide(e.g. funds accessible for young entrepreneurs, for professional trainings or for social purposes).
     
  2. Projects present the positive impact of cohesion policy at local and regional level. Citizens are surprised about the details and the effects of the projects, ranging from urban revitalisation, support to SMEs, research and innovation, social integration etc.
     
  3. Citizens, civil society organisations and businesses want to exchange more on what the EU finances in their municipality or region. There are lively debates on what the future investment priorities should be in the region or city (urban vs rural; one single priority vs a diversified portfolio of priorities)
     
  4. Communication around cohesion policy could be co-created with citizens and associations in order to ensure its positive impact. For instance, a proposal was made to link the funding of projects to additional budget lines for project promotion.
     
  5. National associations of local and regional governments can play a key multiplier effect to show results of cohesion policy. The dialogues gather together many students, civil society organizations, local representatives and EU officials. Participants feel supported in having a platform to address their concerns on investment priorities in their regions.
     
  6. Regional and local views should be better taken into account when defining investment priorities at local level. EU projects should be aligned to towns’ strategies and offer added value to the town’s strategic planning.
LOOKING INTO THE FUTURE
 
  1. Cohesion policy creates solidarity among countries, regions and people. Especially for the youngest. Many projects show that cohesion policy creates solidarity over borders, mobilising local and regional players around common European challenges, across borders. It also brings the public and private sectors to work and learn together.
     
  2. The EU, with the Member States and Regions, should invest more in citizen awareness-raising. Information on EU-funded projects towards citizens is missing.
     
  3. Cohesion policy is an investment policy creating innovation, competitiveness and sustainable growth in Europe. Private companies accessing structural funds showed they could not have succeeded in developing their businesses without them.
     
  4. Cohesion funds remain important for all regions, in both more and less advantaged areas. Examples  show  that EU  cohesion  policy creates  innovation, competitiveness and sustainable growth in Europe by supporting common goals at European level that could not be achieved via national resources alone. In the area of research and innovations for instance, it supports both concrete market applications as well as long-term investment research.
The local dialogues are a great opportunity to exchange. You can also join the discussion online: use the hashtag #EUinmyregion.

These  dialogues  are  organised  by  the  Council  of  European  Municipalities  and  Regions (CEMR) and its project partners, with the support of the European Commission’s Directorate General for Regional and Urban Policy (DG REGIO).
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