Europe’s regional development agencies met with Director-General Marc Lemaître of the Directorate-General for Regional and Urban Policy at its headquarters in Brussels.
Brought together by the European Association of Regional Development Agencies (EURADA), the meeting took place on 22 January where the topics of the future Cohesion Policy and the implementation of European Structural and Investments Funds (ESIF) were discussed.
More than twenty economic development practitioners from fifteen European development agencies were able to engage with the Director General and policymakers from the Directorate-General for Regional and Urban Policy. EURADA played a key role in making possible the dialogue between practitioners and policy makers.
Due to the diversity of approaches to regional development in the European Union, the discussion facilitated a myriad of expert opinions which were shared from those who are most engaged with ESIF (Regional Managing Authorities) to direct beneficiaries of EU Cohesion Policy. Additionally, two Interreg Europe project coordinators, Fédéric Pinna and Elżbieta Książek were present and offered ‘on-the-ground’ approaches to the meeting from Beyond EDP project and ESSPO project. Beyond EDP aims to operationalise the entrepreneurial discovery process of Smart Specialisation strategies in regional economic development.  ESSPO seeks to improve the impact of   SME supports through a tailored approach.
During the meeting, discussion centred on the role of development agencies to improve policy implementation as it relates to EU Cohesion Policy. For EURADA and its members, European development agencies consider European Union Cohesion Policy as necessary to guarantee sustainable and inclusive growth. Cohesion Policy has been helpful to leverage the potential of economic actors in all regions (from those who lag behind to innovation leaders). ESIF has provided resources to the activity of development agencies and our local stakeholders have been empowered as direct beneficiaries of the EU Cohesion Policy.
Having all of the required competencies to increase the impact and return on investment of policies in their regions, EURADA members stressed their availability and willingness to contribute to a qualitative step in the professionalization of the design and implementation of the ESIF policy in the future.
Primarily collecting the views of practitioners in regional economic development, EURADA allows a space for members to come together and voice their views in the form of a continuous exchange of lessons learnt in business infrastructures, managing regional development tools, testing innovative soft support mechanisms in favour of entrepreneurs and enterprises, reshaping the industrial fabric and translating the decisions taken by policy makers into operative tools. The core activities of EURADA are to share best practices in territorial development programmes, in particular those which are dedicated to entrepreneurship and SME support. EURADA is a network of practitioners sharing their experiences and making common projects.
EURADA has gathered experts in the field of regional development and economy since 1992. It operates a large network of sixty-five members spanning 22 countries in the European Union and its neighbouring countries.