Jyrki Katainen, the European Commission’s Vice-President responsible for Employment, Growth, Investment, and Competitiveness, urges EU’s regions to advance their smart specialization to fill the possible EU budget gap that Brexit will leave.
“Intelligent specialization can be a partial solution to a decreased EU budget,” Katainen told journalists on Tuesday. “EU-27 will be different than the current EU-28″ said Katainen, adding that the EU might have t change the way things work within the bloc. “Globalization is a reason why we want to focus on smart specialization because globalization will pose a challenge,” he explained.
A focus on smart specialization can help to curb the potential shortage of future budgetary resources, aside from the globalization challenge. As the EU finances will be expected to go under strong pressure, the European Commission has launched on Tuesday two pilot projects that will finance with one million euros each of the European Regional Development Fund. (ERDF).
The first pilot project will have the European Commission providing “personalized” expert support to regions facing the industrial transition to “accelerate the absorption of innovation and remove barriers to innovation”, as Corina Cretu, European Commissioner Regional Policy explained.
The second project aims to identify and expand any”inter-regional fundable projects that can create European value chains in priority sectors such as macro-data, bio-economy, resource efficiency, interconnected mobility or advanced manufacturing”. A total of €67 billion will be mobilized with European Structural and Investment Funds and national and regional contributions in support of intelligent specialization strategies, which seek to promote growth and employment on the basis of unique competitive advantages in each region.
Although less developed regions have received “a greater amount of funds” today, Crete has recalled that even “rich regions” such as Wallonia have benefited from aid to replace unemployed by the closure of Caterpillar in the past, underlining the importance of the tools and their flexibility.