The European Union’s future policy on territorial cohesion was on the agenda when the "Intergroup Mountain, Island and Sparsely Populated Regions" on Tuesday 4th May invited to a dialogue meeting in the European Parliament. The NSPA was invited to present how the NSPA positions itself for the future EU regional policy. Mr. Stein Ovesen, director of North Norway European Office, reports from the meeting.
A couple dozen MEP:s are behind the work carried out by the "Intergroup Mountain, Island and Sparsely Populated Regions", or "Intergroup 174". The group is a cross-party, cross-country unofficial coalition, and it represents sparsely populated areas, island - and mountain regions across Europe.
The key objective of the group is to promote and defend the interests of Europe's islands, mountain and sparsely populated areas at the European level, to ensure the EU institutions are made more aware of the issues and challenges facing these regions, and that the new Article 174 of the Lisbon Treaty is taken fully into consideration in future EU legislation.
It is noteworthy to observe that all involved parties agree that the focus ahead must be to promote these regions strong sides, and highlight how these regions can contribute to growth and development in the EU.
All regional policy must take the Europe 2020-strategy into consideration, and the Intergroup 174 will therefore work towards the territorial dimension being included in the EU 2020 strategy. Currently, neither the relation to regional authorities nor multilevel governance is mentioned in the strategy.
Additionally, the group will work strongly towards promoting the special interest of remote and rural areas and island communities in relation to the future EU cohesion policy.
This autumn, the fifth cohesion report will be presented. The report will include DG REGIO's views on the future regional policy. During the first half of 2011 the first draft of the EU's regional policy post 2013 is expected. Towards this, the Intergroup 174 will work actively, presenting concrete policy proposals. More specifically, this will include positions and propositions concerning both vertical and horizontal levels of governance. For the NSPA, this process is rather testing. Our main challenge is to become more specific in terms of articulated interests and priorities. On an EU level, the policy making process is intensifying. To be able to participate in the dialogue, and defend and promote the interest of the northern region, the NSPA might have to speed up its work accordingly.
The European Parliament Intergroup 174 has taken its name from the new provisions of Article 174 of the Lisbon Treaty, which states that in its efforts to promote economic, social and territorial cohesion, the Union shall pay particular attention to regions which suffer from severe and permanent natural or demographic handicaps such as the northernmost regions with very low population density and island, cross-border and mountain regions.