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Presentation of the activities in the field of territorial cohesion and urban development by the minister Janez Podobnik at the Parliament Committee for Regional Development (REGI) of the European Parliament, 22 January 2008

It is my pleasure having the opportunity to present to you Slovenian activities in the field of territorial cohesion and urban development during the EU presidency.

The process of the territorial cohesion and urban development, which evolved from the European spatial development perspectives and post-Rotterdam process, has culminated in the adoption of the Leipzig documents, the Territorial Agenda of the EU and the Leipzig Charter on the Sustainable European Cities. The desires of many partners in that process, especially of the European Parliament, were to start with more concrete actions for the implementation of the principles, guidelines and political commitments agreed upon. That, in my opinion, has begun to be implemented by adopting the First Action Programme for the Implementation of the Territorial agenda of the EU during Portuguese presidency which has given a framework for more operational work.

In view of that, the most important in the field of territorial cohesion during Slovenian presidency is to stimulate the continuation of the process, now focused on the concrete actions, already taken over to implement them by the member states and the stakeholders. The first step is to initiate coordination and monitoring of the implementation of the activities by using an efficient, transparent and open approach.

Beside that task, Slovenia has also taken over the first action from the Action programme which concentrates on the issues of fostering coordination between the spatial and urban development policies.

In the field of urban development Slovenia intends to hold the discussion among the member states and the stakeholders on the implementation of the Leipzig Charter with the emphasis on the contribution of urban areas to combating climate change, especially in the light of energy efficiency, and the role of integral approach in urban development planning.

The territorial diversity, including urban dimension, is an important factor of European's identity. It represents a competitive advantage, which should be creatively used for sustainable territorial development. The inclusion of the territorial cohesion in the new Lisbon Treaty is a crucial step toward giving territorial dimension to cohesion policy as well as to other policies. However, there remain a number of open questions that need to be addressed. We believe that the activities which will be performed in the framework of the implementation of the First Action programme would contribute to more profound definition of those open questions within the networks, established in the field of territorial cohesion and urban development, namely the National Territorial Related Contact Points and the broader Urban Development Group, and a COCOF sub committee on Territorial Cohesion and Urban Matters at the European Commission. In this way we will actively contribute to preparation of the Green book on territorial cohesion, which is under preparation by the European Commission.

I would also like to stress out my appreciation regarding the interest of the European Parliament to be an active partner in this process, expressed at in the informal ministerial meeting at the Azores. In this respect I very much appreciate Ms' Kallenbach “Report on the Follow-up of the Territorial Agenda and the Leipzig Charter: Towards a European Action Programme for Spatial Development and Territorial Cohesion”, as an important contribution in the process of strengthening the active and partner collaboration in implementing the adopted documents.

We have included the messages from the Territorial Agenda and the Leipzig Charter in our preparations for the spring European Council 2008. We find it important to stress out the role of territorial diversity in implementing the Lisbon Strategy goals, and in that, the importance of the territorial dimension of sectoral policies, as well as the contribution of cities and urban areas to the competitiveness of the European territory.

During our presidency, we will organize working level meetings to discuss the implementation of the First action programme and the Leipzig Charter. In the field of territorial cohesion they will be on the 6th of February and on the 18th  of March,  and in the field of urban development it will be on the 19th of March.

We will also host the Directors' General meetings from the 14th to 15th May. The outcomes of the implementation of actions and proposals of future coordination and monitoring of the activities according to the First action programme will to be reported on the first day, and the outcomes from the discussion on the implementation of the Leipzig Charter in context of climate change will be reported on the second day. 

I hope, that we can expect further active cooperation from the REGI Committee as it was until now, so we can foster our cooperation in this field in the future.


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Date: 23.01.2008