The annual general meetings of the CPMR Geographical Commissions took place throughout the month of May and June, where Members discussed a range of issues and policies related to their Regions including Cohesion, Maritime, Accessibility, Migration and Climate Change.
Islands Commission elects Governor George Hatzimarkos as President
“What realities and what opportunities for islands in a changing Europe”was the main theme of the General Meeting of the CPMR Islands Commission held on 19-20 May 2016 in Rhodes (South Aegean, Greece).
The issues addressed during the meeting were Cohesion Policy, State Aids, Migration Management, Accessibility, Sustainable Energy and Climate.
Following a debate in the European Parliament on 10 March 2016 on “Islands and Cohesion Policy”,organised in the framework of the SEARICA Intergroup, the CPMR Islands Commission adopted specific proposals on how islands’ needs could be better addressed by post-2020 cohesion policy.
The Islands Commission also adopted proposals on the better inclusion of islands in the State Aids regulation, in TEN-T network and in the Motorways of the Sea, recommendations on migration management, and proposals on how islands can lead the EU efforts towards its 2030 climate goals.
During the meeting, George Hatzimarkos, Governor of the South Aegean region (Greece) was unanimously elected President of the CPMR Islands Commission for one year.
The Islands Commission aims to strengthen the voice of islands within EU policies and to show that due to their structural handicaps (Article 174 of the EU Treaty) particular attention to islands is in line with the principle of territorial cohesion, as well as a prerequisite for equal opportunities for growth.
Balkan & Black Sea Commission calls for “dialogue and cooperation”
Unity and cooperation among regions are vital to building growth and fostering reconciliation in the Black Sea basin, says the CPMR Balkan and Black Sea Commission (BBSC).
At its General Assembly on 30-31 May, hosted at the Istanbul headquarters of the Permanent International Secretariat of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation Organisation (BSEC), Commission members discussed the Commission’s objectives and priorities for the development of the wider Balkan and Black Sea area.
The assembly was chaired by Christiana Kalogirou, North Aegean Governor, with the participation of Ambassador Michael B. Christides, Secretary General of the BSEC Permanent International Secretariat.
Addressing members, Governor Kalogirou said: “Our objective is to encourage dialogue and cooperation and support the relations between EU and non EU Regions in the wider Black Sea region. We can use the expertise of CPMR to stimulate collaboration, promote best practice and prepare regions to adapt to the new era.”
Key areas of discussion included strengthening interregional cooperation, recognising the importance of a common maritime agenda and blue growth, and developing joint projects in sectors such as transport, tourism, the environment and economic development.
Members adopted a work programme in line with international policies and programs on South-East Europe, including Black Sea Synergy, Eastern partnership, Adriatic-Ionian and Danube strategies.
The event also allowed the Commmission and the BSEC to continue to progress their plans for future partnership, which should result in the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding.
Speaking to members, Ambassador Christides, said: “We have great expectations of this cooperation because we very well know that the CPMR has concrete experience in participating in and implementing projects. We will work together to improve this region for our citizens.”
During the meeting, the Commission heard from representatives of cross-border cooperation programs, economic sector organisations and civil society, including the European Commission, Council of Europe and the European Investment Bank.
Both the CPMR and the BSEC attended the Third Black Sea Stakeholder conference in Odessa, Ukraine on 14 June. In their interventions at the meeting, they outlined how they wish to take an active role in the further steps of the process towards a common maritime agenda in the Black Sea.
Bruno Retailleau elected as President of Atlantic Arc Commission
The EU must put more resources into supporting renewable energies and ‘blue growth’ industries that will boost growth and support climate goals, says the CPMR Atlantic Arc Commission.
At its General Assembly in Pamplona on 2-3 June, at the invitation of Uxue Barkos, President of the Chartered Community of Navarra, Commission members outlined a series of proposals in order to foster the European project in the Atlantic territories.
These include the development of marine renewable energies, regarded as a key means of creating jobs and tackling climate change. They also call for greater EU support for training and research in all aspects of the blue economy, including tourism and transport.
In particular, they highlight the positive launch of the Blue Careers training initiative – which capitalizes on the innovative CPMR-led ‘Vasco da Gama’ pilot project – but stress the need for more long-term development and support in this area.
The Commission also stresses the need for the creation of a truly Atlantic Corridor, in order to improve transport, trade opportunities and connectivity between Atlantic territories.
In her speech during the meeting, President Barkos, said: “The CPMR Atlantic Arc Commission isthe perfect forum to build cooperation and strengthen links between Regions, which facilitate the preparation of outstanding projects to be funded by European programmes”.
During the General Assembly, a new President of the Atlantic Arc Commission was elected, Mr Bruno Retailleau, President of the Pays de la Loire Region. Mr Retailleau presented his programme for the next two years, stating: “The Sea, the oceans and the Atlantic are our common good, our identity. Atlantic Regions will mobilise their forces to develop concrete proposals on marine renewables, marine skills and transport connectivity.”
The first priority for the Pays de la Loire Region is to strengthen the lobbying actions of the Atlantic Arc Commission. Bruno Retailleau stressed that this is a very important time for the European Union as budget policy and cohesion policy are being renegotiated.
Hence, the Atlantic Arc Commission must be very active to make its voice heard and speed up the implementation of the Atlantic Strategy by strengthening its links with the EU institutions, he claimed. Throughout Mr Retailleau’s presidency, priority will also be given to the implementation of the Atlantic Strategy and its sources of funding, which are still too low.
Mr Retailleau also wants to foster participation in EU projects within the Atlantic Arc Commission’s working groups in order to give more visibility to the Atlantic Arc Commission and develop expertise in specific fields. Accessibility is the last priority identified by the Region. The Atlantic Arc Commission must keep lobbying so that grey zones are taken into account in order to better connect the Atlantic territories between them and with the center of Europe.
In order to carry out this ambitious work, President Retailleau will work together with 2 elected members of the Pays de la Loire Region, who will also follow closely the activities of the Atlantic Arc Commission, namely Christophe Priou, in charge of fisheries issues, and Sébastien Pilard, in charge of blue economy issues.
Addressing members at the meeting, Eleni Marianou, General Secretary of the CPMR, said: “Regions are the backbone of Europe’s economic development and the Atlantic regions are at the forefront of developing concrete projects to boost growth and jobs for their citizens.”
At the end of the meeting a final declaration was approved by participants.
Jari Sainio reelected as President of Baltic Sea Commission
Jari Sainio, the Vice-Chairman of Helsinki-Uusimaa Regional Board has been re-elected as President of the CPMR Baltic Sea Commission for 2016-2018.
The President was elected to his position during the Baltic Sea Commission General Assembly in Region Gävleborg, on 26 May 2016.
Annika Sandström, President of Stockholm County Council and Kalev Kaljuste, Governor of Parnumaa, were elected Vice-Presidents. The mandate of the Executive Secretary, Ms Åsa Bjering, was extended until December 2018.
All the Members of the BSC Executive Committee can be viewed here. The speech from the new President, Jari Sainio, can be read here. The Minutes, Vision and Mission Statement of the CPMR Baltic Sea Commission and other adopted working papers during the General Assembly of the BSC can be found here.
North Sea Commission calls for new cooperation platform
The CPMR North Sea Commission (NSC) has called for the establishment of a formal platform of cooperation for countries and regions around the North Sea.
This clear message to national governments and European institutions was put forward in the Legoland Declaration, the North Sea Commission declaration from the North Sea Conference and the NSC General Assembly 2016.
At the NSC General Assembly in Billund, Denmark, Commission members also adopted the revised North Sea Region 2020 (NSR 2020) strategy document. The strategy identifies challenges and opportunities in the North Sea Region and promotes several tools which can be used to tackle the challenges we face.
This includes increasing cooperation and multi governance amongst North Sea Regions, tapping into and fostering innovation, building clusters for sectoral collaboration, and the promotion of the blue growth and alternative energy sectors.
In order to take advantage of these tools, the North Sea Commission (NSC) has recommended that the EU Member States and Norway, together with the European Parliament and the European Commission take the necessary steps required to set up a formal platform of cooperation for countries and regions around the North Sea.
This will mean coordinated and streamlined actions can be promoted in order to create a level playing field for private investments across the North Sea Regions.
As well as agreeing on important strategic issues such as the revised North Sea Region 2020 strategy and the Legoland declaration; members at the meeting also elected Kerstin Brunnström, from the Västra Götaland Region of Sweden, as President for 2016-2018. Andreas Lervik, from the Østfold region in Norway, was elected as Vice-President for 2016-2018.
Speaking after her election, Kerstin Brunnström, said: “I am very grateful for this opportunity to work with the Regions of the North Sea with the aim of creating growth, stability and prosperity for our citizens.”
During the meeting, Commission members adopted a resolution on landing obligation, supporting it as a means to prevent overfishing under the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) while at the same time raising the concerns of fishery dependent communities.
They also agreed a policy statement on transport, highlighting some core requirements for the promotion of accessibility to peripheral and maritime regions and for sustainable transport solutions, in line with the NSR 2020 Action Plan.