EPRSLibrary By / September 28, 2013

European Union’s macro-regional strategies

The European Commission has published its report on EU’s macro-regional strategies. It aims to ‘clarify the concept of macro-regional strategies and to…

© julias / Fotolia

The European Commission has published its report on EU’s macro-regional strategies. It aims to ‘clarify the concept of macro-regional strategies and to evaluate their value added’.  The report and its accompanying document   were submitted to the Council and to the European Parliament in July 2013.

Currently, the European Union is implementing two macro-regional strategies: the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region and the EU Strategy for the Danube Region. “The two existing macro-regional strategies operate with no additional EU funds, no new institutions, and no new legislation. This has required more coherence between funds, structures and policies. The strategies have created working structures around priority areas, selected in a bottom-up process of consultation, with political leadership in each area taken by participating countries, regions or organisations, supported by the Commission as facilitator.”(source: the report)

There are some proposals and debates on other macro-regional strategies e.g.: one in the Adriatic-Ionian Sea and another one in the North Sea (supported by the Committee of the Regions); one in the Western and Eastern parts of the Mediterranean, another one in the Alpine region and a third one in the coastal region of the Atlantic Arc, stretching between Southern Spain and Scotland (from different stakeholders). In a resolution, the European Parliament  has also called for the setting up of a Strategy for the Black Sea region in the framework of the EU’s foreign and security policy.

This EP Library keysource provides a selection of relevant documents on the EU strategies for macro-regions.


© julias / Fotolia
© julias / Fotolia

EU macro-regional strategies state of play / by Ivana Katsarova, Library Briefing, 28 February 2012, 6 p.

The EP Library briefing provides information on EU macro-regionale strategies e.g.: background; definition and main features; existing strategies and the added value as well as the first results and criticism.

EU macro-regional strategy for the Adriatic and Ionian Region (EUSAIR)  / Library Keysource by Maria Isabel Moran Vidal, posted on 27 September 2013

The main goal of the Adriatic-Ionian macro-region is to promote sustainable economic and social prosperity through growth and jobs creation, by improving its attractiveness, competitiveness and connectivity. At the same time the purpose is to protect the sea, coastal and inland environment and ecosystems. This Library keysource aims to provide a selection of relevant documents on the EUSAIR.

The EU Strategy for the Atlantic Area / Library Keysource by Sorina Petrescu and Sorina Ionescu, posted on 4th July, 2013

The Action Plan for a Maritime Strategy in the Atlantic Area, published in May 2013 by the European Commission, sets out the priorities for research and investment in the eligible regions of the five Member States (United Kingdom, Ireland, France, Portugal and Spain) participating to the Atlantic Area programme. The actions will be financed by existing EU programmes and they should be in line with the  implementing priorities set out in the Partnership Agreements of the five Member States concerned.

This Library Keysources provides a selection of relevant documents on EU Cohesion Policy Strategy for the Atlantic area.

Towards a Macro-Regional Strategy for the Alps / Library Keysource by Sorina Petrescu and Sorina Ionescu, posted on 22 July 2013

This EP Library Keysource provides a selection of relevant documents on the Alpine area.

The EU Strategy for the Danube Region: two years on / Library Keysources Sorina PETRESCU , Sorina Silvia Ionescu, posted on 18 April 2013

This EP Library keysource provides a selection of relevant documents on the implementation stage of the EU strategy for the Danube Region.

The EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea – one year on / Library Keysource by Anna SCHOBER and Sorina Silvia Ionescu, posted on 10 January 2011

This EP Library Keysource provides a selection of relevant documents on the implementation stage of the EU strategy for the Baltic Sea Region.


Drafting and implementing macro-regional and sea basin strategies (MRS AND SBS): technical paper / the CPMR General Secretariat, March 2013, 8 p.

This technical paper presents an interim stage towards the drafting of a CPMR Policy Position Paper (PPP) designed to contribute towards the European Commission process of evaluating existing Macro-Regional Strategies. A set of guidelines for the development of MRS was adopted by the CPMR and it is presented in the Annex. CPMR believes that it is important for the Commission to be able to promote new ideas in the context of the MRS review scheduled for the summer of 2013.

Macro-regional dynamics in the Mediterranean area(s): the case of the Adriatic Ioanian Macro-region / Battistina Cugusi, CESPI, Working paper n°6, January 2013, 18 p.

This working paper analyses the process behind the establishment of Adriatic-Ionian macro-region by identifying, the peculiarities in terms of drivers, policy areas and institutional actors involved.

Macro-regions, ‘la nouvelle vague’ of transnational cooperation: the geopolitical case of the Mediterranean basin / Battistina Cugusi, Andrea Stocchiero, CESPI. EU BORDERREGIONS, Working paper series; 4, 2012, 18 p.

This working paper focuses its attention on the Mediterranean basin, where national governments and sub-national authorities are proposing new political initiatives for the establishment of an Adriatic-Ionian and a Western or basin-wide Mediterranean macro-region.

European Territorial Cooperation – Preparation and management of projects and programmes (with a view to the role of EGTCs and macro-regional strategies) / report written by J.Pucher, METIS GmbH, 2012, 43 p.

This study provides an overview of the of the management of programmes and projects in ETC in the current period (2007-2013) – with a view to the challenges and benefits for LRAs (Local and Regional Authorities) and other actors; as well as future perspectives and potentialities related to European Groupings of Territorial Cooperation(EGTCs) and macro-regional strategies in ETC management and programming for the forthcoming period (2014-2020).

Re-scaling EUrope: EU macro-regional fantasies in the Mediterranean. In:  European Urban and Regional Studies, vol. 20, no 1, 2013, p. 59-76.

The authors of this article argue that, “although there exists by now a vast literature by geographers and other scholars that engages with the production of ‘EU’ropean spaces through regionalization, the policy literature generated by EU ‘macro-regional experts’ appears to entirely ignore these debates, professing an understanding of regions that is a conceptual pastiche at best, and that entirely occludes the political and geopolitical implications of region-making within, at, and beyond ‘EU’rope’s borders.”

Blueprint for a Macro-Region. EU Strategies for the Baltic Sea and Danube Regions / Carsten Schymik,SWP Research Paper 2011/RP 10, September 2011, 31 p.

This study analyses the macro-region model experiment in the Baltic Sea and Danube regions which are of a particular importance for Germany for it is the only EU state that belongs within both strategies and also because its participation in the macro-regional strategies is borne by sub-national actors, the federal states. Based on this analysis it makes some recommendations which aim at fixing the “most important deficits” in the configuration of the EU’s Baltic Sea and Danube strategies.

Baltic Sea, Danube and Macro-Regional Strategies: a Model for Transnational Cooperation in the EU? / by Stefanie Dühr, Notre Europe, Studies and Research, no 86, 2011, 72 p.

This paper focuses on the concept of macro-regional strategies. The author analyses in detail the two existing macro-regional strategies – i.e. the Baltic Sea Region Strategy and the Strategy for the Danube Region and questions how they operate and whether they bring any added value. The study explores how the concept might affect EU policies, and particularly regional development policy.

Macro-Regional Strategies: Experiment for the Renewal of Economic Policy of the European Union / by Gábor Braun and Zoltán László Kovács. In: Public Finance Quarterly, volume LVI, issue 1, 2011, pp. 79-93

The authors of this paper argue that “more tightened fiscal and sectoral coordination through macro-regions can give a new impulse to the cooperation on EU level and improve EU’s competitiveness.”

Macro-regioni Europee: del vino vecchio in una botte nuova?: background paper / Andrea Stocchiero (CeSPI), Aprile, 2010

The purpose of this document is in fact to present the strategy of macro-region and to define the issues that arise in order to open a debate and an analysis of what could be the scenario of a macro-region in the Mediterranean.

EU macro-regions and macro-regional strategies – A scoping study / by Alexandre Dubois, Sigrid Hedin, Peter Schmitt and José Sterling, Nordregio Working Paper 2009:4, 44 p.

This scoping study discusses the understanding of the macro-regional approach  being developed within the context of EU cooperation from a territorial development perspective and particularly in relation to transnational cooperation and territorial cohesion.

Stakeholder views

European Parliament

European Parliament resolution of 3 July 2012 on the evolution of EU macro-regional strategies: present practice and future prospects, especially in the Mediterranean, P7_TA(2012)0269, 2011/2179(INI), Strasbourg, 3 July 2012

In this resolution the European Parliament “endorses the macro-regional approach to territorial cooperation policies between territories belonging to a services and working area: maritime area, mountain range or river basin; believes that macro-regional strategies opened a new chapter in European territorial cooperation by applying a bottom-up approach and spreading cooperation to more and more areas via the better use of available resources; recommends that, in view of their clear European added value, macro-regional strategies should receive more attention in the framework of European territorial cooperation, to be reinforced as of 2013”

Macro-regional strategy for the AlpsP7_TA(2013)0229, Strasbourg 23 May 2013

In this resolution the European Parliament “calls for a macro-regional strategy for the Alps to be the subject of a comprehensive evaluation by the Commission, based on objective criteria and measurable indicators; it also calls on the Commission genuinely to implement Article 174 TFEU through a strategic plan, with a view to overcoming the structural handicaps of mountain regions and creating the right conditions for economic growth and effective social and territorial cohesion in the Alpine region.”

European Parliament resolution of 20 January 2011 on an EU Strategy for the Black Sea, P7_TA(2011)0025, Strasbourg, 20 January 2011

In this resolution, the European Parliament “calls on the Commission and the European External Action Service (EEAS) to draw up a strategy for the Black Sea region in parallel with the review of the European Neighbourhood Policy, thus defining an integrated and comprehensive EU approach to address the challenges and opportunities of the region, with a detailed action plan, clear objectives, flagship initiatives and benchmarks; believes that the strategy will make for effective coordination of activities and division of tasks.”

European Commission 

Report concerning the governance of macro-regional strategies / European Commission, COM(2014) 284 final, Brussels 20.05.2014, 10 p.

The report shows that while the results of individual projects and initiatives in the Baltic Sea and Danube regions are positive – even more political leadership and clearer decision-making is needed to build on the progress so far. The report recommends changes to improve the impact, results and the sustainability of existing, and particularly future strategies – such as that of the Adriatic-Ionian and Alpine Regions which European Countries have asked for and should be adopted formally later this. This concerns primarily national and regional administrations, but also a wider range of stakeholders, and the European Commission itself.

Report on the added value of macro-regional strategies COM(2013) 468 final, 27 June 2013, 11 p.

This report: seeks to clarify the concept; evaluates the added value of existing macro-regional strategies; and provides recommendations for future work. It considers achievements to date, both advantages and difficulties, against the overall EU policy framework, including the Europe 2020 Strategy, and the territorial perspective present in the Treaties.

Working document accompanying the EC report on the added value of macro-regional strategies, SWD(2013) 233 final, 27 June 2013, 88 p.

This document comes in support of the EC report on the added value of two existing macro-regional strategies (the European Union Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region (EUSBSR) and the European Union Strategy for the Danube Region (EUSDR)), adopted in June 2013. It aims at providing more detailed information concerning the evaluation of added value of macroregional strategies. It collects the contributions the Commission has received from the key stakeholders of the EUSBSR and the EUSDR, independent external experts, as well as the relevant academic and policy-development literature.

Macro-regional strategies in the European Union: discussion paper / Pawel Sameki, November 2009, 8 p.

This paper analysis the macro-regional concept as applied in the European Union. After discussing issues of definition, objectives and resources, it summarises the essential content of a strategy, sets it in the context of the territorial cohesion concept and looks forward to the possible evolution of the approach in the future. The paper also reviews the European Union Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region (EUSBSR), focusing on those elements that, in the opinion of the Commission, have contributed to its successful development up to 2009. The EUSBSR experience is applied to the concept to summarise the essential issues to be addressed in developing new macro-regional strategies.

EU programmes and projects

Report from the Commission concerning the European Union Strategy for the Danube Region / European Commission, COM(2013) 181 final, 8.4.2013, 10 p.

The European Commission has released the first progress report on the EU Strategy for the Danube Region, which presents the achievements realised in the first phase of implementation and the recommendations for the next period.

Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions concerning the European Union Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region, COM (2012) 128 final, 23 March 2012

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