This lunchtime briefing held at the Committee of the Regions on 5 July was aimed at presenting good practices and recommendations as regards the public procurement systems in EU Member States with a view to enhancing investments at local and regional level. It also aims to raise awareness of the pivotal role of administrative capacity in the EU's efforts to enhance investment in all EU regions.

The briefing, with speakers from DG REGIO, was an opportunity to present to participants the main findings and recommendations of the stock-taking study on administrative capacity in the field of public procurement published by DG REGIO.  

The study provides a systematic assessment of the public procurement systems of each of the Member States with a particular focus on the way how they are organised and function along with valuable information (country specific recommendations in 28 country profiles) as to how to improve the…

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Policy makers, practicioners, representatives of energy agencies, local and regional authorities, companies and academia gathere in Brussels from June 13th to June 17th to participate in the Policy Conference and numerous side events organised in the framework of another EU Sustainable Energy Week.

High level policy conference had more than 2000 participants who left with new ideas, connections and motivation for innovative energy projects. This year's EUSEW Ambassador Sudha Kheterpal, presented her invention Spark - a percussion shaker which converts kinetic energy from playing it into electricity. It can be used in developing countries and can empower people in rural off-grid areas to create their own energy.

EUSEW Awards took place on the first day of the policy conference. The ceremony was opened by Commissioner Cañete. He noted how citizen’s engagement is extremely important, hence the new category has been introduced – a citizen’s award (as a result of public vote).…

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Smart Regions conference took place in Brussels on June 1st and 2nd with the main aim to highlight innovative regional strategies and to boost cooperation between EU regions.

Regions and Member States of the European Union have developed their national or regional innovation strategies for smart specialisation. Those provide a strategic framework for the innovation-driven economic transformation of European regions and set out the main priorities for investments. They address emerging opportunities and market developments in order to build a competitive advantage by developing and matching research and innovation strengths to business needs. European Structural Investment Funds are the main financing source.

The role of the European Commission was to guide the regions in the process of determining fields eligible for investment based on specifities of each region. Another task at the EU level is to broker the partnerships between regions with similar or complementary strategies to further enhance European…

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On Saturday 28 May 2016, EU institutions opened their doors to celebrate the Europe Day. Participants were able to join and learn more about the European Union at numerous events and stands organised in the European Commission, the Parliament, the Council and the Committee of the Regions. CoR's 5th floor was traditionally reserved for the Festival of European Regions and Cities where many European regional and local entities had their own stands where they interacted with the visitors and spread word on the specialties of their regions.

 

Croatian Regions Office participated with two of its members present in Brussels. Varaždin County representatives presented the touristic offer of the north-west Croatia and offered participants a taste of traditional home-made products, while the Regional Development Agency Slavonija and Baranja presented the touristic potential of the City of Osijek and Osijek-Baranja County as well as a few of the most successful projects…

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On May 17th Commissioner Creţu met with representatives of regional offices in Brussels. The Regional Offices, of which there are over 300 in Brussels, are the representations of regional and local authorities in EU Member States and act much like “embassies” on city or regional level.

During the meeting, Commissioner Creţu discussed 4 topics: migration, the Urban Agenda, simplification for beneficiaries of EU funds and the Future of Cohesion Policy post 2020. 

Migration is considered first and foremost an urban issue which is why it will also be addressed during the official launch of the EU Urban Agenda in Amsterdam on May 30th. This challenge has to be taken on by the entire EU and positive impacts of refugee integration have to be shown. The European Commission is open towards changing the Operational Programmes if necessary to adjust to this new situation, however, only at the Member States' request. An example…

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On May 11th, Brussels Environment, a member of ACR+ network, organised, in collaboration with ACR+, an international conference “Circular Economy in practice: Rethinking our production and consumption models”. This conference was inspired by the Brussels Region’s ‘Circular Economy Regional Program’ (Programme Régional en Economie Circulaire – PREC) and the adoption of the new Circular Economy Package by the European Commission. The conference focused on circular business models, the sharing economy, and on the reuse and repair sector. New initiatives explained their activities helping to change consumption patterns, and discussed enabling and hindering factors. 

In the framework of this conference, at the roundtable titled: The role of Reuse and Repair economy, Mr Ivan Božić presented social cooperative Humana Nova, first in Croatia. They are producing and selling quality and innovative textile products made from ecological and recycled fabrics for the needs of the domestic and foreign markets. This cooperative employs disabled and…

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This seminar explored the topic of improving regulation for SMEs. It provided participants with an overview of the main EU initiatives aimed at improving regulation, in particular in the framework of the REFIT Platform, created synergies between some of the main players in the field of Better Regulation and shared information on working questions and methodologies, and identified potential future priority files in the area of improving regulation for SMEs.

Particular attention was given to regulatory obstacles in the area of VAT, however, it was also spoken of further priority dossiers in the area of regulatory simplification for SMEs, bringing together the expertise of regional and local authorities and key stakeholders. The aim was to gather evidence for the political discussion about Smart Regulation for SMEs within the CoR and potentially also for the CoR's contribution to the work of the REFIT Platform.

Business friendly environment is crucial for achieving…

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With the initial discussions on the EU's post-2020 programming period already in place, NAT Commission of the CoR, organised a seminar to discuss the future of rural areas. The concern is further increased wth the fact rural areas are not faring as well as was planned in the current policies either. Critisism has been made of low investments into rural development. 

Possible solutions to boost rural development is the change in approach, making the EU funds more accessible and giving farmers and rural communities enough flexibility to develop their respective areas in the way that works best for their regions. Rural diversity is not adequately developed and used to make life better for its citizens, which is a huge missed opportunity given how much area of the EU are the rural and peri-urban territories.

European Countryside Movement (a platform of international organisations) launched a call for a White Paper…

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