EU regional policy is an investment policy. It supports job creation, competitiveness, economic growth, improved quality of life and sustainable development
The European Structural Funds have been transformed into the European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF). It is time to invest in future economic growth within the EU. Each region is asked to develop a Research and Innovation Strategy for Smart Specialisation defining its regional unique innovative ecosystem. The goal of this RIS3 is the increase of job creation, competitiveness, economic growth, improved quality of life and sustainable development.
Specialisation means choosing, this partly an academic exercise and partly a political choice. It means that a region needs to define where to concentrate funding and where not to spend funding. At the same time the policy up to 2020 clearly offers possibilities for new members states (EU12) to enhance their innovative capacity, create new (or upgrade existing) centres of excellence and create more cooperation between universities and companies.
WssTP promotes this step up in research and innovation throughout the EU. Looking at the topic of water the European Commission has indicated that by 2030 there will be a gap in Water Demand and Supply of 30%. At the same time the existing water quality and quantity is increasingly being challenged by emerging compounds and extreme weather events respectively. These new challenges call for innovative solutions and approaches.
Several regions within the EU have already outlined the water component within their RIS3. Some regions still take abundant water of the right quality for granted. These should think again. Without water no economic growth and huge challenges for society at large. At the same time European industry already takes water challenges seriously and water availability has become one of the key parameters for industrial investments in new production plants and up scaling production in existing plants. The European wide call for re-industrialisation of Europe as a way out of the crisis should therefore take water into account more seriously.
The ESIF, composed of European Regional Development Fund, European Social Fund and Cohesion Fund, accounts for more than one third of the EU’s overall budget and forms the ideal basis for innovation and investments in water. One of the main fields of investment across all cohesion policy programmes is the environmental protection and risk prevention. Cohesion funds allocated to environmental programmes are around 100 billion. Half of this investment is devoted to infrastructure investments related to water and waste water treatment, renewal of contaminated sites, pollution reduction, and support for nature protection and risk prevention.
WssTP together with other European organisations (like ERRIN) is ready to support the focus on water within European regions RIS3 strategies and guarantee European sustainable water supply in the future and realise exports of new products and technologies to the global market.
For further information please visit the Regional Policy website