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28 October 2005 / EN

Growth and Jobs in Europe

Bratislava Declaration

Local and regional authorities have a key role to play in performing successfully the re-launched Lisbon strategy. A bottom-up approach and a grass-root perspective is needed. The principle of subsidiarity and proportionality must be applied at all governance levels. A strong involvement of local and regional authorities in the revising process of the Integrated Guidelines for Growth and Jobs and in the implementation of National Reform Programmes by respective Member States is indispensable. There needs to be greater awareness and consciousness through local and regional level of the Lisbon Agenda among EU citizens, as a reaction to the challenges of globalisation and technological change.
The European Union’s new financial framework and Structural Fund activities have to be tied closely to open greater opportunities for interaction and complementarities with the Lisbon Agenda. The new Competitiveness and Employment Objective should be used actively to promote a stronger take-up of the Lisbon Agenda by Member States, regions and cities.

Regional and local authorities should be encouraged to incorporate more actively the overall objectives of the Strategy into their own strategic development programming, considering the local and regional relevance of the Strategy’s specific targets and adapting them where relevant to local and regional needs and requirements.

Concrete measures at local and regional level boosting economic growth and leading to more and better jobs – to be considered within the governance cycle of the re-launched Lisbon Strategy:

      Local and regional action plans

  1. Measures to be introduced: development of local and regional action plans to boost growth and to create more and better jobs; establishment of Lisbon indicators on local and regional level in order to measure progress in regions and cities across Europe; involvement of regions and cities in any formal implementation processes of the Lisbon Agenda; appointment of Mr/Mrs. Lisbon on local and regional level. Activities directly related to the Lisbon Agenda and activities related to the implementation of Structural Funds support should be within the same administrative competence and responsibility, and not be located in entirely different administrative structures as is today mostly the case. Through
    these measures the objectives of the Lisbon Agenda should be made more understandable and tangible for EU citizens.

    Entrepreneurship
  2. Promotion of culture of entrepreneurship has to include: introduce entrepreneurship in schools; solid consultancy services for new entrepreneurs and for second-time-around entrepreneurs; set up “first-stop-shops” for businesses, focusing on advice, support and funding, especially for SMEs and micro-enterprises as they are very often a backbone of
    local and regional development; set up consultative councils with entrepreneurs and employee representatives. Specific features to increase risk-taking and innovation should be identified and promoted.

    Synergy of policies
  3. The uniform top-down agenda of Lisbon must be combined with the regionalised bottom-up approach of the Structural Funds. Cohesion Policy has to be viewed as a complementary policy to the Strategy for growth and jobs. There have to be made sufficient financial means available for the next programming period 2007-2013 of EU Cohesion Policy, including the Regional Competitiveness and Employment Objective. Moreover, public-private-partnership and private funding should be used wherever possible to increase the total structural fund expenditure and to avoid greater pressure on regional and local budgets, while keeping a high level of public investment at the regional and local level.

    Knowledge-based society
  4. There has to be strong emphasis on R&D and innovation, taking into account local and regional circumstances. Measures to be taken: promote teamwork between educational institutions, companies, organisations and employees; expand cooperation with universities and colleges; help to disseminate research development and innovation results; promote business clusters. Research efforts should be intensified to increase the level of returns’ visibility of different types of investments in different types of regions with a view to creating the preconditions for focusing investment support more closely on regions and investment fields with the highest possible returns.

    Sustainable jobs
  5. Measures to be taken: expand the labour market through better communications; enable higher investment in developing human resources as it promotes economic growth and jobs in many ways, e.g. by encouraging innovations and their application, and by making it easier for employees and organisations to reconcile work and family life.

    Adaptability to change
  6. There is a need for measures to improve capacity to forecast the impact of globalisation on regional business activity and to develop measures that help companies to adapt and remain competitive and also measures which facilitate rapid retraining and re-employment of workers in case of closure or relocation. This should be also considered within crossborder areas, particularly in the implementation of National Reform Programmes.

    Competitive administration
  7. Improving the efficiency of public administration at central and regional levels is needed, in particular as regards business-related public administration services and business regulation. Measures to be taken: use spatial planning as an active instrument to boost competitiveness; set efficiency improvement objectives for public services; assess the impact of decisions on the enterprise culture; more outsourcing of public services; improve procurement skills; promote small businesses in procurement procedures; greater use of eadministration; increase employment and reduce benefit dependency; train civil servants in the meaning of “enterprise”.

    Public services
  8. The services provided by local and regional authorities be developed so as to become more profitable and more competitive. The access to broadband services should be ensured. To achieve this, services should be made easier to organise by removing rules and regulations and other obstacles, which hinder innovation and creativity of competitive public services.

    Mainstreaming and dissemination of best practise
  9. Member States should make clear commitments – in form of an action plan – to ensure multiplication and mainstreaming of results and best experience from successful regions and cities or prioritised investment fields. Regional and local authorities have an important role in informing citizens about national efforts to reach the targets for growth and jobs.