Written by Christiaan van Lierop
Attracting some 6 000 participants from across Europe, the four day OPEN DAYS event is Europe’s largest annual get-together of regional movers and shakers. Launched in 2003, the event has grown to become the EU’s leading networking platform for experts in local and regional development. But it’s about much more than regional stakeholders getting together to swap business cards.
Organised jointly by the Committee of the Regions and the European Commission’s DG for Regional and Urban Policy, this Brussels event gives regions and cities a unique opportunity to showcase their achievements in delivering growth and jobs and implementing cohesion policy, whilst also helping to highlight their key role in EU policy-making. A forum where decision-makers, experts and academics can come together and share their ideas and know-how in the field of regional and urban development, OPEN DAYS is without a doubt the ‘place to be’ for anyone with an interest in regional policy. And this year, the EPRS has also joined the party, putting together a special compendium of briefings to tie in with the main themes of the 2015 event.
Under the banner of ‘Europe’s regions and cities: partners for investment and growth’ the 2015 OPEN DAYS event will focus on the following three thematic priorities:
- Modernising Europe: the regions in the Energy Union and the digital single market,
- Regions open for business: SME development, innovation and job creation, and
- Places and spaces: Urban and rural development; urban-rural integration.
An easy to understand introduction to the structural funds, the first briefing in our collection, How the EU budget is spent: the ESI funds, sets out the rules, structure and instruments for the implementation of these five core funds, which together cover more than 41% of planned EU spending in 2014-2020. The Energy Union: the regional and local dimension considers how cohesion policy can contribute to meeting the Energy Union’s objective of decarbonisation and what the local and regional level can do to deliver the EU’s energy policy ambitions; while our briefing on The regions in the Single Digital Market: ICT and digital opportunities for regions and cities examines the ICT and digital opportunities which the completion of a Digital Single Market offers Europe’s regions in relation to creating jobs, improving citizens’ access to information and promoting open government.
With small and medium-sized enterprises accounting for the majority of jobs and turnover in Europe, our Briefing on SME Support in EU regions discusses what the EU is doing to help businesses grow, in terms of providing access to finance and non-financial assistance, including information, advice and training. Our EU Rural Development Policy briefing examines how the EU’s rural development policy helps to improve the quality of life in Europe’s rural communities and harness the full potential of its rural areas, while Developing an EU Urban Agenda looks at recent moves to give city authorities and stakeholders a greater say in EU decision-making, and ensure that policy-making reflects the urban reality on the ground. Infrastructure is another key area of interest, and an Overview of the TEN-T network provides a snapshot of EU action to create a trans-European transport network to allow people and goods to move quickly and easily throughout the EU via a core network of nine transport corridors.
Our compendium is rounded off by a briefing on The European Grouping of Territorial Cooperation, which provides an overview of this unique legal tool and discusses how it can be used to enhance cooperation between Europe’s regions and cities, particularly those located in border areas.