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LeaDeRs The newsletter of Liberal and Democrat Regional and Local Politicians

Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe Alliance des Démocrates et des Libéraux pour l'Europe

JULY 2013

IN THIS ISSUE ALDE-CoR champions an energy market that empowers consumers

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“Silicon Saxony” hosts ALDE-CoR group meeting on economic development and infrastructure as an engine for growth

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ALDE-CoR Vice-President Gian Mario Spacca, President of the Italian region of Marche, receives the European Entrepreneurial Region (EER) 2014 award

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State Secretary of Saxony, Roland Werner (DE/ALDE), CoR rapporteur on the Airports Package, argues the case for General Aviation at a seminar in the European Parliament

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ALDE-CoR champions an energy market that empowers consumers

Piet de Vey Mestdagh (NL/ALDE)

ALDE-CoR coordinator for Europe 2020 Alin Nica (RO) chairs high-level conference on Digital Agenda for Europe

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Second Adriatic-Ionian Interregional group meeting to prepare for the 2014 macroregional strategy

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Upcoming ALDE activities: Call for nominations - third edition of LeaDeR awards; Open Days seminar on “Investing in the future: Meeting Climate & Energy Challenges with innovative Financial Instruments”

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Ongoing ALDE opinions: Urban-rural partnership and governance; Maritime spatial planning and integrated coastal management; Trans-European telecommunications networks

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Opening up the energy market and increasing competiveness can only be achieved if the EU places consumers and local government at the centre of its plans. Through the unanimous adoption of an opinion presented by P.G. de Vey Mestdagh (NL/ALDE), the Committee of the Regions expressed support in creating a more competitive and integrated European energy network. However, the rapporteur calls for a far greater support for new energy companies and better protection of consumers. Investing in smart grids, he argues, can be an important part of the solution helping empower consumers, drive competition and create a “more integrated, competitive and flexible” energy market.

The rapporteur supports the liberalisation of the EU’s energy market which he views as being an important driver in creating a sustainable, more competitive energy sector. However, the opinion on the internal energy market led by Mr. de Vey Mestdagh, Member of the Executive Council of the Province of Groningen, warns that many Member States have yet to implement measures set out in the EU’s Third Energy Package agreed in 2009. This was restricting market access for new energy companies and consequently undermining competition and keeping energy costs high. The rapporteur points to the growth in “prosumers” – consumers as producers – and calls for more investment and support to be made available for small-scale energy production and regional grid infrastructure, a position that has already been taken up by the European Parliament at Committee level. This would enable smaller producers to compete and counteract market monopolisation. Mr. de Vey Mestdagh added that, “The important role of regions and municipalities in terms of coordinating local energy development and micro generation cannot be ignored. Quite simply, local and regional authorities can make Europe’s energy market work”. Smart metering systems are also a good way to enable consumers to better manage costs, provided that they have access to data on their own consumption. To achieve

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LeaDeRs

The newsletter of Liberal Democrat Regional and Local Politicians

this, the opinion argues that existing grids must be modernised and smart grids further developed, objectives that are in line with the Europe 2020 targets on energy efficiency and the EU’s 2050 energy decarbonisation plans. It therefore supports cooperation in the development of smart grids at European, national and regional level, and calls for the development of European standards for smart grids. This perspective was shared with the European Parliament who’s Industry, Research and Energy Committee has incorporated it into their proposals.

Mr Roland Werner, State Secretary of Saxony for Economic Affairs, Labour and Transport, focused on the role of investment for a strong economic development and infrastructure as an engine for achieving growth.

ALDE group meeting held in the city of Dresden

“Silicon Saxony” hosts ALDE-CoR group meeting on economic development and infrastructure as an engine for growth As one of the major German locations for high-tech industry – exporting cars, photovoltaic systems and railway engineering to the entire world – Saxony has developed into a European centre for excellence. Dubbed “Silicon Saxony”, the region’s economy has exhibited the largest economic growth (14%) of all the German federal states over the last ten years, pointed out Peter Nothnagel, Managing Director of the Saxony Economic Development Corporation, during the Group Meeting of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe in the Committee of the Regions which took place on 21 June in the City of Dresden. The event, held at the invitation of ALDE members Dr Jürgen Martens, State Minister of Saxony for Justice and for Europe and

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The close cooperation between Saxony and its neighbours – particularly with its biggest partner the Czech Republic, illustrated by the plans for the new Dresden-Prague railway line intending to improve transport quality and circumvent the Elbe Valley – was discussed at length during the meeting. Mr Jan Ilík, Ministerial Counsellor of the Czech Ministry of Transport, who participated in the meeting, pointed out that railways are the transport mode of the future and that we need to improve the development of railway infrastructure and to boost a single European transport market. He concluded by saying: “Our mobility gives us our freedom and is one of the fundamental rights of the European citizens.” The seminar discussed at length how national and European funds have transformed the Saxon society, its business sector and its infrastructure into a successful market economy. ALDE-CoR President Bas Verkerk drew attention to the challenges that have been overcome by the multi-level governance approach in place in Saxony. “The making and shaping of legislation and the execution of it in a coordinated manner by local, regional and national governments can make all the difference. Saxony has achieved robust economic development by having done just that.” Looking towards the coming years, keynote speaker Mr Michael Theurer, MEP and Chair of the EP Budgetary Control Committee said: “We should try to achieve an agreement on the MFF so that the money could be spent and so that the regions would know what to do and how to do it in the upcoming operational programme.” 93% of Saxony’s economy is made up of small and medium sized enterprises, and participants were given a glimpse of this during the study visit to the Mafa Stolpen GmbH (agriculture engineering company) with Managing Director Jens Kröhnert and Uwe Steglich, Mayor of Stolpen. Other speakers included: Jörg Uhlig PTV Group, Bernd Sablotny, Director General of the Saxon Ministry for Economic Affairs, Labour and Transport and Dr Dirk Orlamuünder, Head of the Policy Department of the Saxon Ministry for Economic Affairs, Labour and Transport.


JULY 2013

The EER award handed over to representatives of Marche region (IT), Flanders (BE) and Noord-Brabant

ALDE-CoR Vice-President Gian Mario Spacca, President of the Italian region of Marche, receives the European Entrepreneurial Region (EER) 2014 award The Italian Region of Marche was one of the three European regions to be awarded the European Entrepreneurial Region (EER) 2014 the other two being Flanders (BE) and Noord-Brabant (NL). Receiving the award was the President of Marche Region and ALDE-CoR Vice-President Gian Mario Spacca. Marche Region’s regional manufacturing industry is among the most dynamic in Europe and is continuing to show an outstanding production and innovation capacity, coupled with a unique entrepreneurial culture. Mr Spacca stresses that: “The regional government is focusing on improving the business environment as well as on bringing added value and supporting small, medium and large enterprises which are committed to innovate and develop the ‘Made in Italy’ values”. The Marche region presented a “new deal” based on renewed regional development and new growth sectors. Their performance until now in making the region a business friendly and entrepreneurial zone was very credible, incorporating some

of the key Small Business Act principles such as responsive public administration. The application included a very clear plan tailored to the EER label, and linked SME policies to the use of Structural Funds, which further convinced the jury of the region’s commitment in this area. Apart from the inspiring political vision, the Marche region also scored highly with a sound system of governance. The jury felt a strong leadership existed in all three regions and very comprehensive, future-looking strategies to further boost entrepreneurial activity in their territory, to contribute substantially to the network of EER regions as a whole while ensuring, at regional level, the swift implementation of major European policy initiatives such as the SBA and the Europe 2020 Strategy for growth and jobs. Moreover, all three applications did not only present excellent strategies, but benefitted from a commitment to do better and from a willingness to learn from other EER regions.

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LeaDeRs

The newsletter of Liberal Democrat Regional and Local Politicians

State Secretary of Saxony, Roland Werner (DE/ALDE), CoR rapporteur on the Airports Package, argues the case for General Aviation at a seminar in the European Parliament

JULY 2013

Roland Werner (DE/ALDE)

In light of the European Commission planning to review the ‘basic regulation’ laying down the rules for aviation for the decade to come, the ALDE seminar in the European Parliament on 19 June on Connecting Europe through General Aviation – Towards a better regulatory environment looked into the potential of GA and analysed the current regulatory situation. As one of the keynote speakers, Mr Roland Werner, State Secretary of Saxony for Economic Affairs, Labour and Transport and CoR rapporteur on the Airports Package, spoke at length about the link between General Aviation (GA) and employment and the economy. In his intervention he emphasised that GA makes remote areas accessible and increases competitiveness in the periphery as well as opportunities for those in metropolitan regions. He also addressed the subject of the need to guarantee slots, which was further elaborated on by one of the organisers of the seminar, Giommaria Uggias MEP. GA (including business/private flying) represents individual mobility in the air. It allows its user to travel point-to-point according to his/her plans as far as schedule and destination are concerned. Due to its wide price range, GA is available for SMEs as well as for big companies, connecting different regions of Europe, not only big airports as airlines do.

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JULY 2013

ALDE-CoR coordinator for Europe 2020 Alin Nica (RO) chairs high-level conference on Digital Agenda for Europe Focussing on the local and regional impact of Europe’s Digital Agenda Strategy, the CoR conference on 2 July about the Europe 2020 flagship initiative on the “Digital Agenda for Europe” was a very timely addition to the ongoing work on accelerating the roll-out of fast and ultra-fast Internet access and reap the benefits of a single Alin Nica (RO/ALDE) digital market for the private and public sectors. The conference was held a few days before the July CoR plenary session where the CoR position and recommendations as regards the EU Cybersecurity Strategy and the EU plans to lower the cost of deploying broadband were adopted. The Digital Agenda for Europe promotes the development of digital technologies and an inclusive digital society. The initiative includes the creation of a digital single market, reinforcing Europe’s digital economy, improving e-skills, developing information and communication technologies for social challenges, enabling public sector innovation, etc. About 250 participants, including policy-makers from all levels of government, debated local policy approaches and best practices in getting the most out of digital technologies on the basis of three aspects: developing digital strategies at regional and interregional level, digital entrepreneurship, e-government and e-participation. Chairing the workshop on E-government and e-participation, ALDE member Alin Nica (Mayor of Dudeştii Noi, RO) emphasised that local and regional authorities are often the ‘front office’ towards the citizens. They play a key role in the innovation of public service and in guaranteeing the two-way interaction with the citizens. Other topics that were discussed during the workshop included developing long-term e-government and e-participation strategies; funding opportunities through INTERREG, INTERACT, URBACT or other EU programmes and coping with issues such as security, civil service deontology, digital illiteracy, etc.

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LeaDeRs

The newsletter of Liberal Democrat Regional and Local Politicians

JULY 2013

Second Adriatic-Ionian Interregional group meeting

Second AdriaticIonian Interregional group meeting to prepare for the 2014 macroregional strategy

Preparing for the future launch of an EU Strategy for the Adriatic and Ionian Region, the Adriatic-Ionian Interregional Group met to discuss the setting up of the four working groups (one per strategy’s pillar – transport, environment, tourism and capacity building) by the participating countries and the Interregional Group’s role within these working parties. Chaired by ALDE-CoR Third Vice President Gian Mario Spacca (ALDE/IT), the second meeting of the Adriatic-Ionian Interregional Group deliberated on the current state of play and the necessary preparations needed when gearing up for the launch of the strategy. During the discussions, the European Commission representative from DG Regional and Urban Policy, Mr Giannantonio Ballette, pointed out that the need to draw on the Baltic and Danube macroregional strategies’ experiences is of crucial importance when trying to attain improved and high-level cooperation. The aim of this group is to serve as an effective instrument contributing to the development of the Adriatic-Ionian Macroregional Strategy. Due to the fact that many objectives simply cannot be attained through individual initiatives, the need for a collective action in which the EU, member states, their regions and their municipalities share duties and functions is more important than ever before.

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Website: www.alde.eu/cor


JULY 2013

Upcoming ALDE activities

The call for nominations for the third edition of the LeaDeR awards was announced end of May during ALDE-CoR group meeting. The ALDE secretariat is now accepting nominations from local, regional and national branches of ALDE and EDP member parties. With these awards we aim to recognise the work of outstanding local and regional liberal democrat politicians and by doing so strengthening the ties between communities of Europe. This year the awards ceremony will be held on 4 December. Further information can be found at ALDE-CoR website www.alde.eu/cor As every year in October, cities and regions have an opportunity to showcase their capacity to create growth and

jobs, implement European Union cohesion policy, and prove the importance of the local and regional level for good European governance, all within the context of the OPEN DAYS. Marking the new timeline towards the Europe 2020 strategy, the ALDE-CoR group will be holding a workshop on 8 October titled “Investing in the future: Meeting Climate & Energy Challenges with innovative Financial Instruments” to discuss innovative approaches to the implementation of one of the 2014-2020 thematic priorities. Within the next EU Multi-annual Financial Framework (MFF), climate friendly investments will continue to be on the agenda. There are many untapped opportunities to save energy and encourage

the use of renewable energy sources in Europe, but market conditions do not always help. It is therefore anticipated that financial instruments for climate action are likely to play a big part in the next MFF, being an innovative way of delivering results and creating stronger incentives for successful projects. Current and past practices of European Investment Bank, European Commission, fund managers and fund recipients will provide good examples and evidence of integrating climate change and energy efficiency in investment decisions.

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LeaDeRs

The newsletter of Liberal Democrat Regional and Local Politicians

JULY 2013

Ongoing ALDE opinions

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Own-initiative opinion on Urban-rural partnership and governance by Romeo STAVARACHE (RO) Adoption at CoR plenary 8-9 October 2013

Opinion on Establishing a framework for maritime spatial planning and integrated coastal management by Paul O’DONOGHUE (IE) Adoption at CoR plenary 8-9 October 2013

Opinion on the Guidelines for transEuropean telecommunications networks by Alin NICA (RO) Adoption at CoR plenary 28-29 November 2013

To subscribe and unsubscribe please contact: tuuli.reissaar@cor.europa.eu

Website: www.alde.eu/cor


ALDE-CoR July 2013 newsletter