CoR: Regions and cities as key agents for open innovation
At the plenary session of the European Committee of the Regions (CoR) in Brussels last week, EU local and regional leaders discussed the priorities for the next six months under the Luxembourg Presidency of the Council of the EU with the Luxembourg Minister for the Interior, Dan Kersch. The CoR shares the Luxembourg Presidency's priorities on the need to build a social Europe, on turning the EUR 315 bn investment plan into real growth and jobs, and on boosting competitiveness through the digital agenda. Several speakers emphasised the importance of the European Fund for Strategic Investment (EFSI) and the Investment Plan for the regions, but also called for a lightening of administrative burdens for regions when applying for EU funds.
CoR President Markkula and Carlos Moedas, Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, called for the promotion of "innovation culture" through various EU funding programmes coupled with local public and private investments, and through initiatives such as the European Capital of Innovation and the Knowledge Exchange Platform. Mr. Markkula acknowledged the importance of regions and cities as drivers of open innovation, and Mr. Moedas called for involving the local and regional authorities more in EU decision-making, and encouraging better participation from the citizens.
A prominent issue in the discussions was the deepening regional divide in innovation and the excellence criterion for EU funding for research and innovation, with several members calling for less geographical concentration of EU funds. Tailor-made funding as well as initiatives such as the European Capital of Innovation Award should encourage local and regional open innovation activities and help to bridge the regional innovation divide. The European Commission is called upon to further simplify procedures and make access to funding easier, as well as to further enable synergies between cohesion programmes and Horizon 2020. A Knowledge Exchange Platform will be launched in October 2015, which, accodring to the CoR, aims at sharing the best EU Horizon 2020 knowledge on the ground and assist CoR members to be active drivers of change.
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Photo: by LU Council Presidency