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Economic convergence and competitiveness within macro-regions-transnational clusters (Exploratory opinion at the request of the Romanian Presidency)

EESC opinion: Economic convergence and competitiveness within macro-regions-transnational clusters (Exploratory opinion at the request of the Romanian Presidency)

Key points:

  • The EESC recognises that interregional, cross-national cooperation building upon pre-existing, historical socio-economic and cultural links is the necessary response to the challenges resulting from a rapid evolving expansion of the European Union (EU.. Establishing an interconnected cross-border and cross-sectoral system of collaboration and delivering a strategic framework for thematic poles for funding institutions to implement well-targeted projects in a macro-region is of great importance.
  • In their first 10 years of operation, the four macro-regional strategies served as useful tools for cohesion policy, primarily by enhancing integration and cooperation and identifying important development processes involving citizens and regions.
  • Nevertheless, performance, in terms of reducing social and spatial disparities and boosting environmental sustainability, remains modest. This is due to the complexity of governance and intergovernmental arrangements, the level of bureaucracy, the lack of cross-regional homogeneity, and insufficient involvement of the social partners, socio-economic agents and civil society organisations.
  • The EESC supports that macro-regional strategies should be understood as laboratories for developing a bottom-up approach to solving the new challenges facing Europe’s society and economy.
  • Macro-regional strategies can boost European integration, serving as the major strategic framework for cohesion and sustainability policy.
  • Additionally, macro-regional strategies should also be geared towards the range of policies being promoted under the UN's 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted in 2015.
  • The EESC provides in section 5 of the present opinion a list of specific policy proposals. These can be summarised as follows: (i) along with the necessity for strengthened policy interventions, we need to reduce the bureaucratic burden; (ii) introduce functioning networking, interconnection and management of existing databases; (iii) prioritise networking and clustering of the social partners, local socio-economic agents and civil society organisations; (iv) in the future, macro-regional strategies will significantly benefit from efficient networks for educational activities..
  • The development and implementation of macro-regional communication strategies for the stakeholders has a strong supportive role in enhancing visibility, fostering networking and participation.