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Press release on the presentation of Slovenian EU Council Presidency Priorities to the European Parliament Committee on Regional Development by Ministers Dr Ivan Žagar and Janez Podobnik

Slovenian Minister of Local Government and Regional Policy Ivan Žagar in front of the Regional Development committee of the European Parliament

Ministers Žagar and Podobnik presented the priorities and key events of Slovenia's EU Council Presidency in the area of cohesion policy. They pinpointed the future of cohesion policy, mid-term review of the Lisbon strategy and issues related to territorial aspects of cohesion policy as key topics. Dr Žagar identified cohesion policy as one of the EU's key policies, emphasising that the “issue of future management of development policies is closely connected with the issue of our vision of the EU, a matter in which the European Parliament undoubtedly plays a key role”.

Discussing the future of cohesion policy, Dr Žagar favourably evaluated the contribution made by the Portuguese Presidency, which had focused primarily on the fundamental significance of cohesion policy. While continuing discussions on fundamental principles, Sloveniais chief objective is to launch discussions with a view to tackling specific questions and dilemmas raised by the future of cohesion policy. The conference on the future of cohesion policy to be held on 7 and 8 April in Maribor will be the key event where the principles of cohesion policy in terms of its structure, scope and goals and the question of a possible reform in methods of implementing the policy will be discussed.

The main guidelines for cohesion policy are those established by the Lisbon Strategy for 2007-2013, with particular emphasis on the importance of regions and local communities, which play a key role in achieving Lisbon strategy objectives. Dr Žagar announced that Slovenia will pay considerable attention to strengthening cross-border, trans-national and inter-regional cooperation and, in particular, to stepping up the use of European Groupings of Territorial Cooperation, an area in which Slovenia has long been involved.

Incorporating the territorial dimension into cohesion policy is an important step forward, enabling territorial planning aspects to be integrated into other sectoral policies. Here, Mr Podobnik stressed the importance of territorial diversity in terms of implementing the Lisbon objectives, and the contribution of cities and urban areas to the competitiveness of the territory of Europe as a whole.

The Minister declared that the adoption of the Leipzig Charter and subsequent adoption of the First Action Programme during the Portuguese Presidency marked important milestones in the process of territorial cohesion and urban development. It is now crucial to ensure that the territorial cohesion process continues. Slovenia will therefore pay the utmost attention to coordinating specific tasks and activities contributing to the implementation of the texts adopted. Particular emphasis will be placed on coordinating territorial and urban planning policies and on the role of urban areas in combating climate change.


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Date: 23.01.2008