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Alpine regional strategy on the starting blocks

Functional space: Eusalp brings the Alpine regions closer together. © European Commission

The European strategy for the Alps is ready. There nevertheless remain some challenges to its effective and sustainable implementation.

Ministerial and administrative committees and three main themes, each occupying several working groups, now generally reflects the structure of the European Strategy for the Alps (Eusalp). The three main pillars are improving competitive ability; sustainable connectivity for all, with the creation of integrative ecological conditions; and renewable, reliable energy solutions. If, as expected, the Alpine regional strategy is ratified by the European Council in December 2015, it will be implemented during the following year. It is to be introduced at a conference on 25-26 January 2016 in Brdo, Slovenia.

Eusalp is intended to improve co-operation between the Alpine states and regions in order to permit them to react to global and regional challenges. The drafting process saw the involvement of all seven Alpine states, 48 Alpine regions, the European Union’s Alpine space programme, the Alpine Convention and other stakeholders. CIPRA also took part in the specific working groups and tried to ensure that the sustainability and participation requirements were met (see position paper at www.cipra.org/de/positionen/118).

CIPRA was only partly satisfied with the results. “Unfortunately the opportunity to implement the widely discussed sustainable future for the Alps was not fully taken up”, said Claire Simon, executive director of CIPRA International. “Instead of being at the strategy’s core, sustainability was treated as just one element among many.” The creation of new committees – instead of looking for increased synergies, e.g. in the Alpine Convention’s existing working groups – was a missed opportunity, she believes.

To be a genuine instrument, the Alpine regional strategy must be implemented by people at local level. But clarity is needed as regards the levels for assigning the various competences and tasks and how to ensure that the decision-making process is participatory in nature. Only then can the Alpine networks and organisations – including CIPRA – position themselves and strengthen sustainable goals and measures in the context of Eusalp.

Source and further information: http://ec.europa.eu/regional_policy/en/policy/cooperation/macro-regional-strategies/alpine/, http://www.cipra.org/de/positionen/118

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