Four years ago, the EU Territorial Agenda of the European Union 2020 was defined as “an action-oriented policy framework, developed to promote polycentric territorial development of the EU”. Whilst broadly welcoming the proposals, the rapporteur would like to see more efforts to enable local and regional authorities to react to territorial challenges in Europe. President Woźniak states that a Cohesion Policy Council should be established and calls for a white paper on territorial cohesion, based on an analysis of the links with the Europe 2020 strategy. He also stresses that the most effective EU policies are designed and shaped with the local context in mind, incorporate networked cities and regions and empower citizens and local activities to valorise their own assets at all levels. He therefore calls for a greater emphasis on the territorial impact of EU policy and insists that the spatial aspect be taken into account when formulating policies. Here, the importance of links between urban and rural areas and the need to invest in secondary cities and peripheral regions is underlined. Cross-border, interregional and supranational initiatives are proposed, as well as further development of macro-regional strategies, to allow the Territorial Agenda to be better implemented.
I am glad that the draft opinion emphasises certain aspects to which I also devoted considerable attention in my draft report on ‘Investment for jobs and growth: promoting economic, social and territorial cohesion in the Union’ (Sixth Cohesion Report), such as greater compliance with the provisions of the Treaty on the role of cohesion policy, the indispensable contribution of cohesion policy to the attainment of EU2020 objectives and the necessity to already start discussions on the future of cohesion policy. Smart, sustainable and inclusive growth cannot be achieved without greater convergence among more developed regions and those whose development is lagging behind.