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Foreword A Regional European Framework for Action Following consultations with key practitioners, participants at the 2002 NW Brussels conference and sub-regional partners throughout the second half of 2002, I am pleased to introduce the Northwest’s first Regional European Framework for Action (REFA). The REFA was initiated early in 2002 by the Northwest’s European Strategy Group (ESG), and endorsed by delegates from across the region at the ESG’s conference in Haydock in March 2002. The REFA was compiled over the same time frame as the revisions to the Northwest’s Regional Economic Strategy, and has been designed to operate effectively within its overarching framework and priorities. A key aim of the framework is to marshal the significant collective efforts of regional and sub-regional partners, thereby rendering the Northwest a more effective player both with the institutions in Brussels and amongst its counterparts across the growing European Union. Two critical success factors are the ability to speak with a unified voice and to promote a consistent external Northwest brand. This is particularly important in the run up to EU enlargement and the negotiations on financial support to European regions after 2006. Additionally, this framework document signals that England’s Northwest is an outward looking region that is ready to engage fully in policy development and forge best practice partnerships with other EU regions at a variety of levels. Its ultimate aim is to further the long term interests of England’s Northwest and its people in the broader context of an evolving European Union. As a region we are particularly keen to support the regional delivery and achievement of the fundamental elements of the Lisbon agenda. Finally, implementation of the actions outlined in the REFA will necessitate a high level of commitment, clarity and communication among regional partners, and we will review it on a regular basis to ensure its continued effectiveness.

Mike Shields, Chairman European Strategy Group

a regional european framework for action