One of the most anticipated events of the year, the European Week of Regions & Cities, took place in Brussels – Belgium from Monday 10th of October to Thursday 13th of October. Policymakers, regional leaders, politicians and stakeholders met to discuss the challenges and opportunities to foster growth in regions and cities. The topics analyzed throughout the four-day and more than 100 multiple conference sessions and seminars, ranged from measures to create job opportunities for all & building a more ‘self-employment friendly’ business environment, to best practices on implementing EU-backed projects.
The opening session of the event included a speech and remarks by Commissioner for Regional Policy Corina Cretu, who stressed that the aim of the four-day event ‘is not to replicate experiences or copy and paste projects, but rather to give cities and regions a chance to exchange, learn and build their own ways to foster innovation, growth and jobs’. Throughout the EWRC 2016 week, several activities and sessions took place with the most important being:
- A debate on the future of Cohesion Policy, as members of the European Committee of the Regions (CoR) called for more simplification and cutting of red tape in the outlining of future policies and a discussion which explored issues around the EU Urban Agenda and the cities as engines for growth and opportunities.
- The meeting of Regional policymakers which was held to present the European Cities Report – a paper drafted by the European Commission and the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat), aimed at triggering a debate on the EU Urban Agenda and featuring the latest developments on urbanization, urban mobility, urban governance, demographic trends and more.
- The appointment of the covenant of mayors in which mayors from across Europe and European Commission officials discussed the challenges in implementing policies to reduce the risk of energy poverty in the EU.
- The European regional and youth organisations meeting, which focused on challenges young generations face such as unemployment, low political and social engagement and radicalization.
- The gathering of Policymakers, city and government authorities to discuss partnerships established under a new Urban Agenda for the EU. The Urban Agenda for the EU will feature 12 partnerships each bringing together urban authorities, European Commission representatives, Member States, experts, knowledge organisations and stakeholders to improve urban policy. Partnerships covered a range of topics from urban poverty, housing and migrants to air quality and urban mobility.
- Sessions, with focus on governments’ digital transformation, peri-urban areas, open data, the Urban Agenda, waste energy recovery, EU cross-border rail investments, better management of EU Regional Funds and smart specialisation.
- The EUWRC Official reception and RegioStars Award Ceremony.
OTS actively participated in EWRC 2016, with a multitudinous mission which conducted a series of contacts with foreign bodies and members of local, regional and national administrations from different countries and contributed constructively in the exchange of ideas and cooperation proposals.