At its last Plenary Session on 30 November – 1 December 2017, the European Committee of the Regions (CoR) adopted an opinion on the Implementation of Macro-regional Strategies (MRS).
Fabian Gal of EPRC assisted the rapporteur, Mr Raffaele Cattaneo, President of Lombardy Regional Council (IT), in drafting this opinion as appointed special adviser.
The CoR opinion notes that macro-regional strategies have become an established bottom-up and place-based instrument for better implementing and coordinating policy responses to various challenges, such as economic growth, innovation, transport, energy, environment and climate change. However, MRS are in a critical phase, in which their potential is increasingly recognised but their practical implementation needs further improvement to reap their full benefits. Therefore, this opinion has a wider strategic aim in the context of the ongoing preparations for the next programming period and the future of Europe more broadly.
In order to improve the implementation of MRS, the strategic planning of an overarching EU strategy as well as all policies with an impact on regional development at all levels of governance must take MRS into account. Moreover, MRS require a specific governance approach based on cooperation and coordination. Improved administrative capacity based on increased ownership and better cooperation is essential in this respect. In other words, the implementation of MRS can only be successful if regional and local players, as well as civil society, are given the flexibility, trust and financial incentives they need to implement goals of common European interest adapted to local and regional needs