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08 December 2009 / EN

The challenge of regional development: towards a stronger economy

Murcia Declaration

The European People’s Party Group in the Committee of the Regions

Preamble

  1. highlights the provisions of the Lisbon Treaty which now includes territorial cohesion along with economic and social cohesion as strategic objectives of the European Union to help reducing disparities between its regions; reminds that solidarity has been and must be a pillar of the European integration;
  2. welcomes the right recognised by the Lisbon Treaty to the Committee of the Regions to bring legal actions before the European Court of Justice to request the annulment of any new EU legislation in breach of the principle of subsidiarity, in the policy areas, such as cohesion policy, where the EU Treaty requires that the CoR be consulted;
  3. acknowledges the Conclusions of the European Council of 10 and 11 December which recognises the role played by the regional and local authorities to strengthen the links between the EU and national measures and that with regard to developing the EU 2020 strategy every effort should be made to ensure economic, social and territorial cohesion; thus calls for a dedicated chapter to regional and local authorities in the Conclusions of the Spring Council to be held in 2010 under the Spanish Presidency of the EU;
  4. reminds the prominent role of EPP-members in the ongoing preparation of the CoR’s Opinion on the future of cohesion policy – to be adopted in April 2010 – drafted following a broad consultation with all relevant stakeholders, and in line with the with the approach of the EPP group in the REGI committee of the European Parliament;
  5. being impressed by the quality and economic, social and territorial impact of the projects developed by the regional government of Murcia, encourages the development of good practices between regional and local authorities of the EU when it comes to the best use of structural funds and European programmes;

    Recommendations
    On the future sustainable growth of the regions and cities
  6. underlines that cohesion policy is as key instrument to link the EU2020 objectives with the local and regional authorities by taking into account the specific situation on the ground and by developing adapted regional responses to the EU 2020 challenges;
  7. proposes that the EU 2020 Strategy, aiming to deliver greener and socially inclusive growth should be developed together with local and regional authorities since they are legally responsible for creating value through knowledge, for empowering people in inclusive societies and for creating a competitive and greener economy;
  8. stresses that the architecture of a post 2013 cohesion policy should continue to concentrate on regions lagging behind and it should also foresee a stable smooth and fair transitional mechanism, particularly for those regions which will cross the 75% threshold, while at the same time maintaining and reinforcing its horizontal approach throughout Europe to improve competitiveness and growth of all regions and a continued focus on territorial cooperation;
  9. strongly refuses all sort of renationalisation of cohesion policy and possible attempts to bypass the regional and local political role in it;
  10. recalls that new global challenges, in particular demographic and climate changes, energy and a more responsible use of natural resources, must be tackled together with the local and regional actors;
  11. reminds that, since local and regional authorities implement up to 80% of all EU legislation, a coherent promotion of an harmonious development and an effective reduction of financial and economic disparities can only be possible through an effective cohesion policy implemented through a partnership at all levels of governance: local, regional, national and European;
  12. highlights the need to better focus on the outcomes of cohesion policy more effectively and coherently and to reduce the administrative procedures when it comes to the implementation stage of the projects;

    On the support of local economies to balance the effects of globalization
  13. recalls that the EPP’s vision on Social Market Economy is founded on the principles of solidarity, subsidiarity and responsibility which can enable European regional and local authorities to respond to the challenge of globalisation and create opportunities for development;
  14. encourages all measures directed to support locally based small and medium-sized enterprises affected by the current economic crisis, bearing in mind that SMEs are significant actors for innovation and creativeness aiming at boosting local businesses; stresses the role of “regional clusters” for a more competitive regional development;
  15. calls for a simplification of the national and EU legislative frameworks on public-private partnerships, which have to be more transparent and user friendly for regional and local authorities, in order to improve growth of both the public and private sectors;
  16. stresses therefore that a European Union with unified markets cannot evolve without a responsibly shared cohesion policy, especially when global and common market rules tend to erode regional identities and suffocate local initiatives for innovation and growth.