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Intervention of Mr. Henri Malosse, 30th President of the EESC, EAR-AER Honorary Member, EESC Member, to the “3rd Forum Balkan regional development” , Vlore 19-21 November 2018

Mr Prefect of Vlore Region, Mr President of EAR Nelu Neacsu, Mrs Luiza Hoxhaj  Executive Director of CRDS, ladies and gentlemen,

It’s an Honour to intervene for a second time in your Forum for the Opening session. Let me go immediately to the heart of the topic of my Intervention today: The European territorial Cooperation (ETC)

I think that its probably one of the most valuable European action as it is a bottom up approach , aiming to create common links and common project among European regions, including those from Balkan countries not yet members of the EU like Albania, Kosovo, Montenegro, Serbia, Bosnia Herzegovina and North Macedonia.

The ETC is known also INTERREG program, which your regions and countries have already benefit, EU member states but also non EU Balkan countries.
These actions have to be prepared and organised at regional and local level, not in the capital city which is also very positive and closer to the people.
It s no need to stress how useful can be transborder cooperation among regions and cities, namely in the Balkans. We could give so many examples of actions between your border regions on tourism, environmental preservation, support of enterprises, infrastructures…

I had been chosen by the European economic and Social Committee as the rapporteur on the future of the ETC in the framework of the next European Union Multiannual framework 2021-2027.

I have been in close contact with the rapporteurs of the European parliament and Committee of the Region on this issue and let me come to our main common conclusions :
These program need more resources and we would like to see the amount dedicated be doubled (20 Billion instead of 10).It looks like very ambitious but we think if there is a programme which can symbolise today the European spirit, it is this one.

Secondly, we would like to continue to see the various sub programs in transborder cooperation, regional cooperation on a large scale, cooperation with the neighbours countries like yours.
We welcome also the macro regional strategies as today your countries benefit of two of them: The DANUBE STRATEGY and the ADRIATIC-IONIAN SEA STRATEGY.

We would welcome their continuation with a focus on transport and environment.
I am very pleased by the fact that the UE Commission has proposed a special subprogram dedicated to common projects of various regions on Innovation and Entrepreneurship. We would like to see this action opened to all regions of the Balkans.

We welcomed the idea of having specify tenders for this action Together our tree European Institutions (EESC, COR and EP) urge the European Commission for radical simplification of the procedures.
Last but not least, let me present two specific request of the European economic and Social Committee.
First of all, we would like to see the UE impose a stronger involvement in the CTE of civil society’s organisations as they are the driven force of concrete actions for the benefit of the people.
Secondly, we propose that the CTE includes a kind of ERASMUS of the territorial cooperation, where, specifically, it could be possible for regional authorities and municipalities to launch transregional exchange of young people, not just students (young workers, jobless, pupils in school) to learn from each other, languages etc….

Finally, let me conclude by saying that this regional Forum can be a tool for preparing together projects for the next EU programmation, for example on innovation, smart cities projects, youth exchange, tourism, environmental protection, valorisation of our historical and cultural heritage.

The Balkans regions are very diverse but in the same time they had the same History, coming from the ancient time of Thrace’s, Illyrians, Greeks, Romans, Medieval, Byzantine, Ottoman, National times etc…

I really hope to come back next year , thank you for your attention!