10 Steps to a New Regional Policy

Presentation of an innovative programme in Brussels at a conference with members of the European Parliament and EU Commissioner Hahn
The Hanse-Parlament presented a compact strategy for an innovative regional policy in the Baltic Sea region. Core elements include international cooperation, tailored in-novation support measures and a system of financial compensation among all Baltic Sea states.

The Baltic Sea region finds itself in fierce competition with other regions of the world to at-tract businesses and skilled workers and to create prosperity. Regional policy seeks to strengthen the competitiveness of the Baltic Sea region, and the EU Baltic Sea Strategy is an example for these efforts. But they are insufficient.

Therefore, the Hanse-Parlament has adopted a new strategy for the Baltic Sea region, to secure innovation, growth and prosperity. The strategy was developed with 39 partners (chambers, universities, public administrations) from all Baltic Sea countries as part of the EU-funded project “BSR QUICK”. Through this strategy, the sub-regions will be able to exploit their full potentials, which benefits the entire Baltic Sea region.
The Chairman of the Hanse-Parlament, Jürgen Hogeforster, presented the strategy program to Johannes Hahn, European Commissioner for Regional Development, on November 16 at a conference in Brussels.

The strategy in a nutshell: (for full PDF Version in English, German and Polish click here)

1. Cooperation und Integration

Close cooperation between the countries and regions of the Baltic Sea region is mandatory and must be expanded. Cooperation is a source of innovation, strengthens the competitive-ness of the region and provides critical market sizes.

2. Regional competition and fiscal compensation

Cooperation does not mean absence of competition, but merging strengths in order to achieve the best performance of each location and region. Financial compensation between financially stronger and weaker regions is in the interests of recipient as well as donor re-gions.

3. Equal living conditions and functional division of labour

Equality may only relate to a few basic conditions. It has to be combined with a concerted division of labour between locations and regions according to their respective strengths, so that they complement each other perfectly.

4. Individual cultures and regional self-esteem

A unified culture is nonsense. It is detrimental to the people and the environment. Diversity promotes creativity and innovation. A balance of regional self-esteem and appreciation of the diversity of the Baltic regions is required.

5. Endogenous potential and smart specialisation

Investments should be directed to the promotion of region-specific strengths. When individual potentials are being tapped even rural areas can grow. The prerequisite for this is the coop-eration between rural areas and urban centres, as well as excellent transport infrastructure and communication networks.

6. Regional economic cycles and promoting existing business

Strengthening regional economic cycles should be given priority. Consistent development of already existing companies stipulate economic success and is also the most effective tool for attracting new businesses. Skilled labour, entrepreneurship, initiative and creativity are the main endogenous potential of a region and should be encouraged.

7. SMEs and networks

Small and medium enterprises strengthen regional development, create jobs and therefore have the highest priority. The chambers should be strengthened and developed as central promotion agencies for SMEs. They must provide services comprehensively in the entire region.

8. Innovation and knowledge partnerships

In order to boost innovation, cooperation between universities and SMEs has to be improved. Chambers can act as intermediaries and provide services to rural areas. For fields with out-standing growth prospects specific centers of competence for SMEs are being developed.

9. Decentralisation and autonomy

In response to globalisation, greater regionalisation and decentralisation is taking place. This development should definitely be supported. Regional and local circles reduce costs, allow growth and promote direct social interaction.

10. Centre concept and infrastructure

The range of public and private services must be extended in rural areas. This can be done inexpensively: Due to modern technologies, intensive networking and HR and organisational development small, decentralised units have become considerably cost effective. Megalo-mania should be replaced by the principle “small is beautiful”. Development and maintenance of good transport infrastructure ensures the development of centres and regions.

Johannes Hahn, European Commissioner for Regional Development, received the detailed strategic programme at the General Assembly of the QUICK project in Brussels and said: “The Hanse-Parlament makes an important contribution to achieving the objectives of the EU Baltic Sea Strategy, particularly to increase prosperity in the region.“

Like the Hanse-Parlament, Tunne Kelam, MEP and member of the Baltic-Europe Intergroup, also called for closer cooperation between the countries in the Baltic region and praised the work of the Hanse-Parlament: “Your conference in Brussels is an encouraging sign for us.”
The detailed strategy programme has been published as a book by the Baltic Sea Academy: „Strategy program for innovation in regional policies in the Baltic Sea Region“.