North Aegean Region

 

“Cohesion Policy and Juncker Plan should march together. The good projects must come from the regions, as their involvement is particularly important to ensure a positive outcome for EU citizens. “

This was the key message of the side event held by the Region of North Aegean in the framework of European Week of Regions and Cities 2016 in Brussels, titled “Juncker Plan: What’s in it for regions”. Mr. Torsten Brand from the European Investment Bank, Mrs. Joana Valente from BusinessEurope, Mr. Nicolas Brookes from the Conference of Peripheral Maritime Regions (CPMR) and Mr. Nikos Kostopoulos, from the North Aegean Region, comprised the speaker panel of the event which took place on 12 October.

Mr. Kostopoulos, European Affairs Adviser to the North Aegean Region welcomed the speakers and participants on behalf of the Governor, Mrs. Christiana Kalogirou, and referred to the urgent need to make regions investment promotion agencies, particularly the North Aegean Region which is facing enormous challenges due to the economic and refugee crisis. He also placed particular emphasis on the social aspect of the projects stating that, “We must secure the resources for smaller and remote islands with social criteria and not just business criteria”.

Mr. Brand, Policy Adviser to the European Investment Bank (EIB) presented the financing possibilities for smaller projects, arguing that it is possible “if you bundle them together in a smart way” and stressed the importance of using EIB’s expertise and the European Investment Advisory Hub which offers advice to any individual or organization that is interested. Moreover, he highlighted that the Juncker Plan should complement Cohesion policy and not compete with it.

Speaking from a business perspective, Mrs. Valente, Strategic Coordinator for BusinessEurope, noted that Europe is a complex and expensive investment destination, highlighting that structural barriers such as taxation further complicate the possibility of financing SMEs. She argued that simplification of procedures is the key for rapid and adequate funding.

Finally, Mr. Brookes, Director for Regional Policy of the Conference of Peripheral Maritime Regions (CPMR), explained the problems remote regions are facing in attracting investments, noting that financing tools like the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI) are useful, but not enough. He suggested combining the strengths of the Cohesion Policy and the Juncker Plan to achieve better results.

The European Week of Regions and Cities (formerly known as Open Days) is an annual four-day event whereby local and regional authorities, experts and academics have the opportunity to exchange good practices and expertise in the field of regional and urban development.

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