The reform of the European Cohesion policy (programmation 2014-2020) enters into force in a context of economic crisis and of major debates on national level about the future of territorial organisation. The DG REGIO (Directorate-General for Regional and Urban Policy) is currently signing the partnership agreements with the EU member states for the implementation of the EU regional policy.

With reforms now in place, the EU regional policy focuses more than ever on investments that intend to improve the quality of life of EU citizens. On the other hand, 350 billion euros – the EU’s second biggest spending priority – will above all support small and medium-sized enterprises, research and innovation, renewable energies and energy efficiency, education, and fight against unemployment and poverty.

The notion of cohesion is slowly replaced by the notion of competitiveness, focusing more on thematic issues, defined by the Lisbon Strategy, than on priority regions, to boost the European competitiveness in growing international competition. How can the regional level bring the citizens closer to the EU and answer their needs despite the pan-European interests represented in the European cohesion policy? In how far can the objective of European competitiveness profit the deletion of regional disparities through all 28 member states? Which are the future challenges of the EU cohesion policy with regards to national territorial reforms?

On Wednesday, July 23, the radio network Euranet Plus staged a debate at the European Parliament’s Voxbox in Brussels on all of these questions and more. The aim was to provide information on the rights enjoyed by EU citizens, and also to reveal gaps which may remain between the applicable rules and regulations and the reality of citizens’ daily lives, particularly in cross-border situations. The debate provided the opportunity for open dialogue, contributing to new insights between all those involved.

The debate, the sixth installment of the “Citizens’Corner” series, was produced in partnership with Radio România, a member of the Euranet Plus network, and was hosted by Radio România International‘s Luana Plesea and Brian Maguire of the Euranet Plus News Agency. The debate was partly in Romanian and partly in English and also featured students from Romania, Poland and Spain from the Euranet Plus campus radio network.

  • Part 2 in English with moderator Brian Maguire and guests:
    • MEP Mercedes Bresso, Italy, Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament and former president of the Committee of the Regions
    • MEP Jan Olbrycht, Poland, Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats)
    • Normunds Popens, Deputy Director General for Implementation DG REGIO
    • Joost Van Iersel, President of the EESC Section for Economic and Monetary Union and Economic and Social Cohesion (ECO)
    • High resolution press photos for this part of the debate on Flickr

Ahead of the debate, we posted regular audios and features on our social media channels to bring the topic closer to our guests, fans and listeners. Also during the debate our fans were invited to post their questions to our guests and moderators. Many joined the debate and faced the realities of Europe on …

Click to access press photos on Flickr of the Citizens’ Corner debate on EU regional policy ...
Interviews with the guests straight after the debate
  • Interview with MEP Iuliu Winkler: How EU funds can help Romania (in English)
    In an interview straight after the Citizens’ Corner debate on EU regional policy, MEP Iuliu Winkler (EPP, Romania) talked to Laura Goarna, a student journalist at UBB Radio of the Babeș-Bolyai University in Cluj-Napoca, Romania, about the economic prospects of Romania and how the EU regional funds can help Romania’s economic development.

  • Interview with MEP Mercedes Bresso: New challenges for the EU (in French)
    About more Europe, about funds for the EU regions and about diversity as an engine for progress – interview with MEP Mercedes Bresso (Italy, S&D) after the Euranet Plus Citizens’ Corner debate about regional policy.

  • Interview with Joost Van Iersel: Single energy policy, a goal of utmost importance (in English)
    Straight after the debate, Joost Van Iersel, President of the Section for Economic and Monetary Union in the European Economic and Social Committee told Euranet Plus: “I see, for the survival of the EU, as indispensable that we come to a common energy policy.”

Euranet Plus University Circle on freedom of movement in the EU
  • UBB Radio: Romania still at the bottom, but mildly optimistic (in English)
    The regional development of Romania is still blocked by the economic crisis, the political class and a lack of vision and implementation. And compared to the other EU countries, Romania still has a long way to go. Laura Goarna, a student journalist at UBB Radio of the Babeș-Bolyai University in Cluj-Napoca, Romania , asked her fellow students and a seasoned Romanian journalist about Romania’s outlook. Can the regional developments funds provided by the EU help to guide Romania in the right direction?

  • Universidade de Vigo: EU citizens should know more about EU regional policy (in English)
    The EU regional policy is slowly moving away from promoting cohesion and is instead boosting regional competitiveness in clearly defined areas. The aim to enable the EU’s regions to face international competition and thus provide for more growth and jobs. It is therefore important for the EU citizens to know about these investments, because they aim to improve the quality of life for everyone, argues Patricia Ricón of the Universidade de Vigo.

Citizens' Corner on EU regional policy

Euranet Plus radio network: Background audios on EU regional policy
  • Radio România: Regional Funds for the extension of the Bucharest metro (in Romanian)
    Around 410 million euros will be allocated to the extension the subway in Bucharest. The European Commission recently approved this investment by the European Regional Development Fund to extend the subway Line 5. This project involves the construction of 6,7 km of underground line with 10 stations and a depot.

  • Radio România: EU cohesion policy supports regional competitiveness (in Romanian)
    The funds provided by the EU cohesion policy support the EU member states’ economies affected by the financial crisis. The pronounced decrease in public investment was complemented by the funds allocated through the cohesion policy, which has an important role in regional economic growth.

  • BNR: Traditions, nature and culture unite regions in EU trans-border project (in Bulgarian)
    What are the practical applications of the EU’s regional development funds and do how they change the life of people? A good example is the idea which underlies a project within the Bulgaria-Serbia Trans-Border Cooperation Programme – the construction of one of the most interesting EU paleontological museums and of a paleontological park, which will put on display the discoveries in a paleontological depot in that trans-border region.

  • BNR: EU project restores to glory Europe’s oldest Roman mosaics (in Bulgarian)
    EU-financed restoration works on the ancient Roman villa or palace Armira in Bulgaria have made it possible to revive in their original location the oldest Roman mosaics and marble constructions found in Europe. The funds provided by the Regional Development Programme of the European Union added a remarkable monument to EU’s map of cultural and historical heritage. Interviewed experts provide details about the monument, the EU project and the EU funds which gave a whole new image to an entire region.

  • BNR: EU projects as domain for youth ambitions, talents and self-accomplishment (in Bulgarian)
    The Europe Direct regional centers in Bulgaria have organized a contest aimed at promoting young people’s involvement in the elaboration of EU projects within the different EU programmes. “Creating TOGETHER European Projects” is open to all youths aged between 17 and 21 and is designed to convince the young generation that applying for EU regional development projects is an opportunity to display their skills, talents and ambitions. In interviews participants of contest explain their goals in motives.

  • MTVA: The town of Kunszentmiklós has been renewed using the support of the EU (in Hungarian)
    The town of Kunszentmiklós lies 60 km southward from Budapest and has used the support of the EU very effectively. The money they spent for tender management has been a very good investment, says the mayor Szabolcs Bődi. Among others, they have built roads, canalization, and the mansion house, now a social welfare home, has been renewed, too.

  • Skaï Radio: European SMEs to receive direct funding by the EU (in Greek)
    Visiting Athens, EU Commissioner for Regional Policy, Johannes Hahn, stated that the mechanism to finance small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) through the European Investment Bank is ready to be used by member states. It enables SMEs enterprises to be financed up to 100 percent by EU funds, with no intervention by national governments.

  • Radio HRT: No progress with EU’s Danube strategy (in Croatian)
    The EU’s strategy for the Danube Region involves a cooperation between nine member states and five countries outside the European bloc, all trying to resolve common problems such as environmental threats, transport connections and social issues. The European Commission proposed the strategy in 2010, but so far not a single project has been realised under the partnership. Croatia’s Euranet Plus partner station, Radio HRT, investigated the causes for the delay and the reasons why the Commission has promoted the cooperation of various countries within the macro-regional frameworks in the first place. (audio in Croatian)

Citizens' Corner debate on EU regional policy

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