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How can the post-2020 Cohesion Policy address the needs of mountain areas?

During the 2020 edition of the European Week of Regions and Cities DG REGIO organised the session “Development opportunities for islands, mountainous and sparsely populated areas of the EU under Cohesion Policy post 2020” on October 15, 2020. Marie Clotteau – Director of Euromontana – was one of the panellists to reflect on the post-2020 regional policy.

 

DG REGIO encourages the use of Policy Objective 5 in mountain areas

Wallis Goelen Vandebrock, Senior Advisor on Cohesion Policy implementation in areas with natural and geographic constraints at DG REGIO, invited Managing Authorities from mountainous regions to make use of the new Policy Objective 5 “Europe closer to citizens” (PO5).  This new PO is supposed to support territorial development with a placed-based approach and integrated strategies at local level. The particularity of PO5 also relies in its full thematic flexibility, meaning that mountainous areas can programme investments on any development topic like transports, digital etc.

The European Commission also stressed the importance of PO5 for mountain areas in the context of the post-COVID recovery. Investments in natural and cultural heritage and tourism will for instance be encouraged under PO5. This can be an opportunity for mountain territories that are highly dependent to tourism to support this sector, highly affected by the crisis.

Moreover, DG REGIO pointed that the Green Deal is especially relevant for our regions. The thematic flexibility of PO5 can also be a tool for mountain territories to deliver on this green transition through targeted investments on climate friendly and sustainable economy, digitalisation and social transformations.

 

Be ambitious say mountain stakeholders

Marie Clotteau – Director of Euromontana – welcomed the opportunity given by the next Cohesion Policy to move towards the sub-regional level, enabling to shape strategies based on the specific needs of each territory with this Policy Objective 5. Nonetheless, she reminded that regions, depending on their development level, must spend from 60 to 80% of the funds in Policy Objectives 1 and 2 (respectively “A smarter Europe” and “A greener, carbon free Europe”). Therefore, Marie Clotteau invited Managing Authorities from mountain areas not to restrict themselves to PO5 and to make use of other POs too.

Marie Clotteau also reaffirmed the potential of our regions to deliver on the Green Deal objectives; however, she stressed that we need investments in capacity building and strategies for the development of circular economy and sustainable mobility and for the creation of skilled jobs. On mobility, Euromontana’s Director, called Managing Authorities to pay a particular attention to people living outside TEN-T networks, to invest in cross-border mobility, rail transport and alternative fuels and to support digitalisation.

“We exist, we are there, and we have specific challenges and assets that should be properly addressed” concluded Marie Clotteau, inviting Managing Authorities to consider mountains in their programming. Euromontana published a dedicated factsheet to support them step-by-step in designing measures that address mountains’ challenges.

 

Stakeholders also expressed their hopes for the Long-Term Vision for Rural Areas, which is being prepared by the European Commission’s DG REGIO and DG AGRI. They expect the Vision to further take into consideration the challenges of rural Europe, in particular for areas of article 174 TFEU (mountainous, remote, sparsely populated areas and islands). If DG REGIO experts present at the session reassured that they are working on the integration of regions of article 174 into this Vision, they however warned that European rural areas are highly diverse and that all specificities cannot be included in a unique strategy.

For more information, you can visit the webpage of this virtual session, where the recording should soon be available.

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19 October 2020

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