The EU Macro-regional Strategy for the Alpine Region aims to bring a new impetus for co-operation and investment to the benefit of all involved: States, regions, civil society stakeholders and, above all, European citizens. It will build on a long tradition of cooperation in the Alps, and will seek to complement, rather than duplicate existing co-operation structures.
The Strategy will build upon three general action-oriented thematic policy area and one cross-cutting policy area:
1st Thematic Policy Area: Economic Growth and Innovation
OBJECTIVE: Fair access to job opportunities, building on the high competitiveness of the Region
2nd Thematic Policy Area: Mobility and Connectivity
OBJECTIVE: Sustainable internal and external accessibility to all
3rd Thematic Policy Area: Environment and Energy
OBJECTIVE: A more inclusive environmental framework for all and renewable and reliable energy solutions for the future
Cross-cutting Policy Area: Governance, including Institutional Capacity
OBJECTIVE: A sound macro-regional governance model for the Region (to improve cooperation and the coordination of action)
The main challenge of the Strategy should be to tackle the economic, social and territorial imbalances existing in the Alpine Region, stimulating an innovative and sustainable model of development, able to conciliate the promotion of growth and jobs, and the preservation of natural and cultural assets in the area.
As its main objective, the EU Strategy for the Alpine Region aims to ensure that this region remains one of the most attractive areas in Europe, taking better advantage of its assets and seizing its opportunities for sustainable and innovative development in a European context.
The Strategy will focus on areas of (macro) regional mutual interest. Therefore, the priority areas and specific objectives selected should reflect genuine commitment to working together to achieve common solutions to challenges or unused potential.
Fostering sustainable growth and promoting innovation in the Alps: from theory to practice, from research centres to enterprises
The Alpine Region constitutes the largest European economic and productive hub, with a high potential for development.
However, lack of economic, social and territorial cohesion is still an issue. Mountains constitute a challenge to homogenous development, entrenching disparities among different territories in the Alpine Region. For instance, access to social services as well as economic services of general interest still remains quite difficult in rural areas at the core of the Alps, while surrounding urban areas evolve in a contrary direction.
To bridge these gaps, and improve cohesion, this Strategy therefore aims to support innovative economic development in the Alpine Region. This could also contribute to a more balanced model of development, through innovative approaches to strengthen the sustainability of the region, while taking into account the diversity/specificities of Alpine territories. By enhancing this notion of sustainability, the goal of the Strategy is to show to Europe that a competitive economy can successfully combine prosperity, energy-efficiency, a high quality of life and traditional values.
This is facilitated by cooperation embracing a variety of economic activities, in the domains of agriculture, industry, commerce, tourism and other services.
The main priorities of this Thematic Policy Area would be the following:
- developing innovation and research capacity and transfer into practice
- improving and developing support for enterprises
- promoting high levels of employment, with the aim of ensuring full employment in the Region
Three Action Groups operate within the 1st Thematic Policy Area to reach the objective:
Action Group 1: to develop an effective research and innovation ecosystem
Action Group Leader: Anna Giorgi
Action Group 2: to increase the economic potential of strategic sectors
Action Group Leader: Sylvain Guétaz
Action Group 3: to improve the adequacy of labour market, education and training in strategic sectors
Autonomous Province: Trento
Action Group Leader: Boglarka Fenyvesi-Kiss
Connectivity for all: in search of a balanced territorial development through environmentally friendly mobility patterns, transports systems and communication services and infrastructures
The Alpine Region is a major European crossroads. However, sustainable transport systems are a major challenge for the region. A coordinated policy, therefore, able to match the transport needs of the Macro-region, population welfare and the equilibrium of (a particularly fragile) environment is a priority for this Strategy.
Besides transport systems, the notion of connectivity also embraces communication infrastructures and services (including tourism). Although citizens and business in the Alps are usually well connected, a higher accessibility to Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) could further bridge accessibility gaps remaining in the region, as well as contribute to a more sustainable model of development.
As a consequence, the main priorities of this Thematic Policy Area will be the following:
- better overall transport systems in terms of sustainability and quality
- improve sustainable accessibility for all Alpine areas
- a better connected society in the region
Two Action Groups operate within the 2nd Thematic Policy Area to reach the objective:
Action Group 4: To promote inter-modality and interoperability in passenger and freight transport
Region: EGTC: EUREGIO Tyrol-South Tyrol-Trentino
Action Group Leader: Ewald Moser
Action Group 5: To connect people electronically and promote accessibility to public services
Regions: Valle d'Aosta and Groupement Suisse pour les Régions de Montagne (SAB)
Action Group Leader: Giorgio Consol
Action Group Leader: Thomas Egger
Ensuring sustainability in the Alps: preserving the Alpine heritage and promoting a sustainable use of natural and cultural resources
One of the main features of the Alpine Region is its outstanding natural and cultural heritage. Natural resources (in particular, clean and abundant water, minerals, a variety of landscapes and great biodiversity), and strong and diverse cultural life are major assets of this region.
However, use of natural resources (like water or biomass), and exploitation of their potential (such as energy sufficiency or regional capacity for energy storage) need to be carried out in an environmentally friendly way.
At the same time, climate change could particularly affect the Alpine Region in terms of availability of resources and threats to population. Joint Regional responses are necessary to establish efficient management systems.
The main priorities of this Thematic Policy Area would be the following:
- reinforcing Alpine natural and cultural resources as assets of a high quality living area
- building further on the position of the Alpine Region as world-class in terms of energy efficiency and sustainable production of renewable energy
- Alpine risk management including risk dialogue, to tackle potential threats, such as those of climate change
Four Action Groups operate within the 3rd Thematic Policy Area to reach the objective:
Action Group 6: To preserve and valorise natural resources, including water and cultural resources
Region: Alpine Convention and Carinthia
Action Group Leader: Wolfger Mayrhofer
Action Group Leader: Helmut Serro
Action Group Leader: Lisa Ellemunter
Action Group 7: To develop ecological connectivity in the whole EUSALP territory
Regions: Bavaria and Slovenia
Action Group Leader: Michaela Künzl
Action Group Leader: Tina Trampuš
Action Group 8: To improve risk management and to better manage climate change, including major natural risks prevention
Regions: Austria and Bavaria
Action Group Leader: Christian Wanger
Action Group Leader: Florian Rudolf-Miklau
Action Group 9: To make the territory a model region for energy efficiency and renewable energy
Region: South Tyrol
Action Group Leader: Ulrich Santa
Action Group Leader: Flavio Ruffini
Improving cooperation and the coordination of action in the Alpine Region
The EUSALP governance model has to ensure a sound and effective implementation of the Strategy, which will contribute to reaching its thematic objectives.
The governance system for EUSALP will take into account some specific features of the Alpine Region and of the Strategy:
a) The Alpine Region already has a long tradition of cooperation. A high diversity of structures is already operating in the area with a wide variety of governance systems. Countries, regions, policy strategies, sectors, and funding resources should avoid compartmentalisation – be it between sectorial policies, actors or different tiers of government. There is a need for an approach that encourages participants to overcome not only national frontiers, but also sectors and barriers in order to allow thinking that is more strategic and imaginative concerning the opportunities available. This strategic approach should also ensure consistency between existing initiatives, avoiding duplications and providing an alignment to existing financial instruments.
In addition to the guiding principles adopted by the Council and described above, the governance system that will be designed in EUSALP also needs to take into account some specific features of the Alpine Region and of the Strategy.
b) The Strategy has been developed around interlinked policy areas. The governance structure that will be adopted should also consider and reflect this cross-cutting aspect.
The basis of the governance system of the Strategy has been laid down in the Milan Declaration of the Alpine States and Regions, adopted at the EUSALP Stakeholder Conference in Milan on 1 December 2014. It is in accordance with the Grenoble Political Resolution of 18 October 2013, the Commission report on governance of macro-regional strategies and the Council Conclusions of 21 October 2014.
The detailed governance and management arrangements of EUSALP will be further developed by the participating States and Regions in cooperation with the Commission after the adoption of the macro-regional strategy by the Commission and before its endorsement by the European Council.
The general functioning of the Strategy is described below. It is based on experience with the existing strategies, and takes into account the Commission report on governance of macro-regional strategies40 and the Council Conclusions, and specificities of the Alpine Region.
The governance of a macro-regional strategy requires greater dialogue and substantial coordination across all decision-making levels, and sectors inside each state and region as well as between participating States and Regions, to reduce fragmentation, improve realisation of actions and encourage effective participation from the actors involved. It also requires the capacity to exchange information and to detect policy gaps when they arise.
Based on the experience with the other macro-regional strategies and in order to provide a more effective and efficient implementation, a two-level coordination built upon national coordination and objective coordination is highly recommended.
a) At national level: National Coordinators
b) At macro-regional level
The Executive Board will mainly be responsible for the overall horizontal and vertical coordination of the Strategy (including inter- and intra-objective coordination which will be guaranteed by the Objective Coordinators) and the preparation of the General Assembly meetings. The Executive Board may invite Action Group Leaders in charge of the implementation of the actions (see next point) to certain thematic meetings. In addition the Executive Board has to collect the reports of the Action Groups and monitor implementation. To ensure coherence, the rotating chair of the Executive Board will coincide with the presidency of the General Assembly.