Written by Christiaan van Lierop,
Every two years, the European Committee of the Regions organises an event bringing together politicians from across all levels of European government: the European Summit of Regions & Cities. For the members of Europe’s wider political family, Bratislava, Slovakia, is without a doubt the place to be on 8 and 9 July 2016.
However, Europe’s local and regional representatives have got much more to do than just catching up on family news. Networking aside, the event provides a unique platform for politicians and other stakeholders to share ideas about policies that affect the everyday lives of people throughout Europe. And this year is no exception, with a busy agenda of debates, round-table discussions and numerous side-events that are expected to attract over 700 participants to Slovakia’s capital.
Organised under the banner of Invest and Connect, the 2016 summit will examine how to deliver sustainable growth by focusing on the need for investments and stronger connections between Europe’s people, places, ideas and resources. Together with representatives from the private and the public sectors, politicians from across Europe will consider how best to remove barriers to investment, in order to fully unleash the entrepreneurial potential of Europe’s regions and cities.
As discussions on the future shape of cohesion policy post-2020 get underway and with the Urban Agenda officially launched in May 2016, the challenges for EU cohesion policy and the Urban Agenda for the EU are highly topical issues, and look set to be a key focus of discussions at this year’s European Summit of Regions & Cities. Current challenges for EU cohesion policy include ten main issues for future reflection in the debate on the reform of cohesion policy post-2020, covering such topics as how cohesion policy can best contribute to competitiveness and cohesion, whether cohesion policy should continue to invest in advanced EU regions or what the most efficient form of support should be in the post-2020 future. The launch of an Urban Agenda for the EU with the signing on 30 May 2016 of the Pact of Amsterdam, meanwhile, begins a process which aims to enhance the urban dimension of EU policies and give city authorities a greater say in policymaking.