The EESC welcomes the special care that has been taken in drawing up the European Union Strategy for the Alpine Region (EUSALP).
The EESC notes that central to the development of the Alpine region is the Alps mountain range itself, which is very much the region's calling card and serves as the economic, social and environmental fulcrum between all the areas involved in the strategy. However the EESC thinks that the Alpine region's distinguishing features are what define and shape it.
The EESC maintains that achieving the overall aim of the EUSALP is extremely important for underpinning Europe's economic competitiveness and social cohesion. Therefore:
- It is crucial to strengthen the EUSALP's comprehensive approach to development by specifying new and more qualitative goals.
- The strategy's goals, pillars and priorities must reflect what is in the discussion document, and should be incorporated and improved when the action plan is drafted.
- The action plan must build on complementarity between funding programmes, consistency between institutional instruments and the creation of new macro-regional projects.
- It also needs to establish greater interdependence between the priorities of competitiveness (pillar 1) and sustainability (pillar 3).
With regard to the pillars of the EUSALP, the EESC believes that:
- for the first pillar, it is essential to ensure sustainable growth and to foster full employment, innovation, competitiveness and cohesion in the Alpine region through mutual solidarity between upland and urban areas. It is crucial to boost employment – especially that of the young and the long-term unemployed – and to beef up measures to encourage social investment and adaptation of social security systems.
- Regarding the second pillar, the promotion of territorial development based on cooperation between internal and external territorial systems, accessibility of services, sustainable mobility and upgrading transport modes and communication infrastructure are of key importance.
- Concerning the third pillar, the EESC thinks it is essential to redouble efforts to achieve sustainable management and protection of the environment and to upgrade the area's territorial assets.
The Committee points out the strong political commitment to the EUSALP by the countries taking part and that both, national and regional, governments are very much informed and involved. However the EESC would also like to see organised civil society involved in capacity building thefefore welcomes the launching of a permanent forum to represent and support the Alpine region's social and economic partners.