July 26, 2010
Life+: 2 new Irish approvals
The project approvals for the 2009 Life+ programme calls for proposals were announced by DG Environment on 23 July. Among the 210 approved projects are two Irish initiatives on Nature & Biodiversity project.
The Blackwater Samok project aims to bring about a sustained enhancement of the Upper (Munster) Blackwater Special Area of Conservation (SAC) by targeting the species of Freshwater pearl mussel, Atlantic salmon, European otter and kingfisher. This will involve carrying out actions aimed at restoring the quality of the river bed and riparian zone. The IRD Duhallow community-based Integrated Rural Development company has been provided with EU funding of EUR935,000 to work on this issue until 2014.
Meanwhile Coillte is to benefit from EUR1.29 million over the next 5 years to help restore wetland, peat-forming conditions on raised bogs by continuing the process of removing plantation forests. This builds upon the work carried out under a previous LIFE-funded project which was completed in December 2008.
Posted by iroronan at July 26, 2010 09:55 PM
July 25, 2010
City Region Governance tools
The Joining Forces project on city-region governance has now concluded having brought together eight partner cities to explore effective strategy development and governance arrangements at the city-region level. This URBACT II initiative examined how successful cooperation between cities and their surrounding areas can be achieved while helping to effectively address key competitiveness, equality and sustainability challenges. It dealt with issues including appropriate scales of governance and policy-making, resource pooling, and support at national, regional and EU level.
After two years of exchange and learning activities, Joining Forces has proposed recommendations applicable at various levels in response to each partner city’s situation. These are based on consideration of aspects of metropolitan governance including strategic and spatial planning; mobility management and transport; environmental issues (air and noise pollution, waste disposal, water supply); knowledge economy (creativity, research & education); private sector involvement; social inclusion, participation and empowerment; and attractiveness & competitiveness. In response, partner cities have set up Local Support Groups to work on plans ensuring the process has an impact on local practices and policies.
Posted by iroronan at July 25, 2010 12:09 PM
July 23, 2010
Institutions seek to shape CAP reform
The European Parliament adopted a resolution calling for a greener, more equitable and more competitive CAP post-2013 on 8 July
While stressing that the amounts allocated to the policy as a whole should be maintained at current levels, MEPs have come out in favour of reform measures being guided by the fairer distribution of payments using more objective criteria with less emphasis on acreage alone and more on other factors including regional circumstances.
The resolution also calls for an EU-funded top-up payment to reward high standards in areas, such as food safety and reduced greenhouse gas emissions associated with production.
The adopted text further calls for the continuation of the two-pillar structure of CAP, highlighting that rural development must remain a central aim of the future policy in order to play a role in ensuring the long-term survival of competitive and environmentally-sound farming in Europe.
Meanwhile, at a major conference on the same issue on 20 July, Committee of the Regions (CoR) President Mercedes Bresso set out the opinion that CAP reform - as with all EU policies - should be based on a thorough assessment of its impact on local communities. This would not be restricted to rural development but also to agricultural production measures. Bresso also advocated a more joined-up treatment of EU agricultural policies.
The CoR recently presented a report on the future of CAP which emphasised equal treatment of the different types of production and regions by offering a more flexible range of support mechanisms which would be conditional upon social and environmental factors.
Posted by iroronan at July 23, 2010 05:44 PM
July 17, 2010
Campaign to maintain Structural Funding for all
With the post-2014 shape of the EU Budget still very much a work in progress, and with the Commission's Fifth Cohesion Report expected in November ahead of a vital Council of Ministers meeting in Liege, there are fears that the Structural Funds, which provide a guaranteed EUR2 million per week in 'Objective 2' EU investment support to Ireland from 2007-2013, could be remodeled into a purely compensatory support package restricted to only the very poorest parts of Europe.
As part of their lobbying campaign to prevent this coming to pass, on 7 October, key political representatives from an estimated 100 European regions in which these 'Competitiveness & Employment' Programmes operate - including Ireland's Border, Midland & Western and Southern & Eastern Regions - will gather in Brussels to sign a joint declaration. This demonstration of intention to secure continued European support for tailored, bottom-up, place-based interventions to help all regions to overcome structural weaknesses and properly realise their development potential will then be presented to the President of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso and Commissioner for Regional Policy Johannes Hahn, as well as the Vice-President of the European Parliament.
Meanwhile, on 6 July the European Parliament agreed a resolution asking the Commission to present a special study on the effects of the financial crisis on EU regions, particularly Objective 2 regions. The study could possibly lend weight to the continuation of Structural Funds in their current form, an idea which has overwhelming support from MEPs.
Posted by iroronan at July 17, 2010 02:40 PM
July 16, 2010
WESTBIC chief to head EU Business Support network
EBN, the network of European Business & Innovation Centres (BICs) has elected Joe Greaney, Director of WESTBIC, as its President. The biggest Business Support network in the EU boasts over 150 quality assured Applied Innovation Partners - 5 in Ireland - as full member organisations and is officially recognised and backed by the European Commission.
BICs operate on a regional basis, enabling business access to valuable research & technological development (RTD) and to collaborative network opportunities as well as facilitating the subsequent transfer of creative knowledge into commercial activity, new start-ups and ultimately, jobs. Their close relationship with SMEs is coupled with a strong alignment with enterprise and economic development policies at all levels.
WESTBIC, which provides services promoting innovation and entrepreneurship to enterprises across the West and Midlands Regions as well as Donegal, is joined in Ireland by other BICs covering the South-East and the hinterlands of Dublin, Cork and Limerick. Looking forward to the challenge of his new role, Greaney said ''I believe we are well positioned to make an even bigger impact in our shared Innovation agenda as the corner stone in building competitive economies''.
Posted by iroronan at July 16, 2010 12:34 PM
July 14, 2010
Future of pensions consultation
On 7 July the Commission launched an EU-wide public debate on how to ensure pensions are sustainable and safe and how the EU can contribute to supporting national efforts. The online consultation includes a series of questions, inviting interested parties to submit views and ideas on confronting the pension challenge.
The Green Paper aims to address the issues of ensuring pension systems are sustainable in the long term, achieving the right balance between work and retirement and making pensions more transparent. It aims to review the pension framework in an integrated way from both an economic and social point of view.
Deadline: 15 November
Posted by iroronan at July 14, 2010 01:36 PM
July 14, 2010
Intangible assets and regional economic growth
A 7th Framework Research Programme 'Socio-Economic Sciences and the humanities' initiative on the impact of ''intangible assets'' (IA) on regional economic growth held its final conference in Brussels on 6 July to disseminate its findings as policy recommendations towards the future design and implementation of regional innovation strategies.
The IAREG project has analysed the difficult-to-appreciate and thus undervalued role of IA such as human capital, researcher mobility, and entrepreneurship networks in the generation of innovation, competitiveness and economic growth at regional level. Its participants - research institutes, firms, policy-makers and other stakeholders in 9 countries - have collectively developed a series of new indicators in order to present new evidence on the processes through which IA influence economic development and ways in which this may be reliably monitored.
It analysed how IA and their interaction define the environment affecting firms' location decisions and measured the role of regional externalities in the generation of IA and in determining local economic performances.
Posted by iroronan at July 14, 2010 10:07 AM
July 12, 2010
Intelligent Transport Systems Directive
On 6 July the European Parliament voted in favour of a new Directive on Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS). The legislation which is intended to establish a framework to accelerate and coordinate the deployment and use of innovative technologies for road transport, including its interfaces with other transport modes, will support the ITS Action Plan in contributing to a cleaner, safer and more efficient transport system.
The first priorities will be traffic and travel information, the eCall emergency system and intelligent truck parking. The Commission will have seven years to adopt specifications based on functional, technical, organisational or services provisions to address the compatibility, interoperability and continuity of ITS solutions across Europe.
In 2011, the Commission will adopt a work programme and Member States will issue a first report on their national activities.
Posted by iroronan at July 12, 2010 11:03 AM
July 07, 2010
Open Days 2010: 5-7 October, Brussels
Registration for the 'Open Days' annual week of cities and regions in Brussels opened on 5 July. A total of 130 seminars and workshops organised by regional partnerships - mainly Brussels-based regional representations - will take place under the broad daily themes of 'Competitiveness' (innovation, regional development and green economic growth by reference to the Structural Funds - mainly Tuesday); 'Cooperation' (Interreg and related international collaboration initiatives – mainly Wednesday); and 'Cohesion' ('territorial' and 'social' cohesion and on the question of how to better integrate different policies at the local level - mainly Thursday).
This week is always the single best attended annual set of events in Brussels so registrations and hotel bookings should be made well in advance.
As part of the Atlantic Alliance consortium, the Irish Regions Office is co-organising two seminars to take place on Wednesday 6 October: 'Cohesion policy for all - Justification for the future' will look at the case for maintaining Structural Funding for all European regions (morning) while 'An integrated strategy for the Atlantic area - A framework for functional maritime cooperation?' will debate whether or not closer collaboration in maritime spatial planning makes sense (afternoon). Both these issues are timely given high-level negotiations currently underway with the future in mind.
Full programme of events
Register until 22 September
Posted by iroronan at July 7, 2010 03:53 PM
July 04, 2010
City regeneration presentations
The content presented at a conference on 'City regeneration- how to do it successfully?' which was organised by the Lodz Region Office in Brussels on 10 June and attended by IRO staff are now available online. The event set out to examine the variety of economic development tools linked to urban regeneration and to serve as a useful platform to exchange views and stimulate a debate on the broad opportunities available to European cities to safeguard their urban heritage.
Posted by iroronan at July 4, 2010 07:06 PM
July 04, 2010
Environmental Impact Assessment consultation
On 28 June the European Commission launched a public consultation on the review of the EIA Directive (85 /337/EEC on the assessment of the effects of certain public and private projects on the environment, as amended).
The objective of this procedure is to collect opinions from stakeholders involved or with an interest in the EIA of plans, programmes or projects as to the overall functioning and effectiveness of the Directive; the need to amend it; and possible policy options which can contribute to a wider review process.
An online questionnaire is available to public authorities at national, regional and local level, NGOs, private sector interests, and individuals. Note that this needs to be completed at one sitting of maximum 90 minutes and only then saved.
Deadline: 24 September
Posted by iroronan at July 4, 2010 02:54 PM
July 03, 2010
Barroso urged to deliver territorial aspects of Lisbon Treaty
At the instigation of the Committee of the Regions (CoR), European Commission President JosE Manuel Barroso met with high-ranking political representatives of the main European associations of regional and local authorities on 29 June. The initiative was organised to impress upon the Commission the need for key EU reform measures to pay more than lip service to the enhanced role given to the local and regional levels by the Lisbon Treaty's strengthened recognition of territorial cohesion and multi-level governance arrangements.
The discussion gathered together the Presidents of seven pan-European regional associations who collectively set out the case that successfully delivering the Europe 2020 Strategy, reform of the EU budget, and a renewed Cohesion Policy depends greatly on first taking account of the territorial impact of new policy-making. This, they argue, is necessary in order to adequately reflect the experiences and perspectives of regions and cities in a coherent and ongoing manner.
This follows upon a campaign by the CoR to gain fuller recognition and influence on foot of the treaty granting it enhanced powers as a consultative body with the right to contribute the voice of local level practitioners to EU policy-making across a widened range of fields. In response, the Commission has recently announced its intention to increase the CoR's involvement in the EU's legislative process beyond even that foreseen as obligatory by Lisbon. This will now entail the local and regional perspective being formally sought as input to an additional 86 legislative initiatives scheduled for progress over the remainder of this year. As well as employment, enterprise, internal market and environment, the proposals include a series of issues such as data protection, children's rights, and the fight against racism.
Recent negotiations between the Commissioner for Interinstitutional Relations Maros Sefcovic, and CoR President Merceded Bresso have also opened the door to a formalised revision of the working arrangements between these two bodies. Crucially, this includes a possible extension of the scope of impact assessments carried out by the Commission ahead of legislative proposals in order to take account of territorial cohesion. This is seen as one of the CoR's key battle lines.
Posted by iroronan at July 3, 2010 06:43 PM
July 01, 2010
Sustainable urban planning tool moves to next phase
The June 21 meeting of Minsiters for Housign and Urban Development in Toledo reached agreement to move the Reference Framework for Sustainable Cities (RFSC) into its testing phase. This policy development and performance monitoring tool has been worked on by a group of cities over the past year as a means of practically assisting local level implementation of the Leipzig Charter for Sustainable Cities - specifically with the development of integrated urban planning approaches.
The three main elements involved in the framework are:
* guiding cities in developing and/or assessing their own sustainability strategies;
* encouraging the exchange of best practice and comparability of results from cities having developed effective sustainable strategies; and
* devising qualitative and quantitative indicators to allow for a concrete assessment of cities' performances.
Up to 70 cities will be able to involve themselves in testing the outcomes derived to date until late 2011 when the finalised tool will be made available to all city authorities on a voluntary basis.
Posted by iroronan at July 1, 2010 11:31 AM