Danuta Hübner, the Commissioner responsible for Regional Policy, met today in Brussels John Anderson, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Transport and Regional Services of Australia. The agenda of the meeting concerned current and future aspects of European Regional Policy, the planned revision of the EU strategy for more growth and jobs (‘Lisbon Strategy’) and the financial perspectives of the EU budget for the period 2007-2013. Commissioner and Deputy Prime Minister discussed how to share best practises in facing regional problems.
Commissioner Hübner said on European Regional Policy: “The European Union’s solidarity objective of reducing regional disparities does not mean a simple transfer of funds but aims instead to raise the long-run growth potential of regions. Built on a partnership across Member States and regions, we support regional growth agendas and enhance competitiveness. EU Structural Funds have proved to be an effective tool to unlock the potential of Europe’s regions.”
The EU and Australia face similar problems in their regional areas. However Australia’s size is twice bigger than EU – 25 and 75% of people live in urban areas. In 2001 Deputy Prime Minister Anderson launched a framework for developing Australia’s regions through the next decade: “Stronger Regions, A Stronger Australia”, based on partnership between government and regional communities.
European Regional Policy together with the instruments of solidarity, the Structural Funds and the Cohesion Fund, cover about one third of the EU budget (around € 44 billion in 2005). These funds have a major impact on the competitiveness of regions and contribute significantly to improving the living conditions of their citizens, in particular in the poorer regions. Sharing European experience and best practices in regional co-operation will contribute to further development of EU/Australia relations.
More information: http://europa.eu.int/comm/regional_policy/index_en.htm