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Macro-region: Europe goes a step further

Various stakeholders in the Alpine space discuss what shape their strategy for a macro-region Alps could take. © Cipra international

The European Parliament has adopted a resolution on a macro-regional strategy, while the Alpine Space Programme submitted an expert report to the European Union.
Agreement on content, goals and processes has yet to be achieved. Below is a summary of the debate.
The European Council, i.e. the assembly of the EU's heads of state and government, is supposed to be launching a macro-regional strategy for the Alpine space by the end of the year. In the meantime heated discussions are likely, with the macro-region on the agenda of the Standing Committee of the Alpine Convention for its meeting at the end of June. The European Parliament has now adopted a resolution and the EU's Alpine Space Programme has published an expert report.
European Parliament: boost for the Alpine Convention and the Regions
The MEPs' resolution has strengthened the Alpine Convention. The content of both the treaty and its protocols, now recognised in international law, is also to have an important role.
Eva Lichtenberger, parliamentarian of the Green Group in Tyrol, thinks this to be insufficient: "Especially in the field of transport there's a conflict of interest between the big cities at the edges of the Alps and the Alps itself. The Cities claim optimal access - but inhabitants of the Alps are only too well acquainted with transport impacts on narrow valleys." This was not taken into account adequately by the resolution.
The resolution in addition pays special attention to the regions, which started off the discussion in 2010. This from-the-ground-up approach is to be welcomed. The MEPs also believe that a macro-regional strategy has "a role in strengthening the local and regional level in the implementation of European measures".
Alpine Space Programme: step by step towards a strategy
The 130-page expert report goes beyond the boundaries of the Alpine Convention and explicitly includes the metropolitan regions outside the Alps. It also proposes that a macro-regional strategy be implemented only gradually, with a test phase first required. The fundamental utility of the macro-region should first be checked on the basis of a few selected themes and activities. Only then should work begin on a comprehensive strategy. The experts also stress the significance of the third pillar of sustainability: social, cultural and demographic aspects too must find a place in any strategy for the Alpine space. They further advise that clear priorities be set within a wider range of possible topics.
DATAR, an office directly subordinate to the French Prime Minister, now wishes to bring together these various positions in one document. The intention is to submit a basis for decision to the EU institutions by the end of the year.
Source and further information: www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc , www.alpine-space.eu/about-the-programme, www.cipra.org/en/CIPRA/cipra-international