Photo: Ministry of Regional Development and Public Works
Over 70 high-level experts from all countries of the EU met in Sofia on 19 April 2018 to discuss the approach to the development of regions after 2020.
“A balanced territorial development is among the most important topics that should be included in the future regional development framework after 2020, as it brings added value to the economic, social and environmental well-being of our countries”,
stated the Bulgarian Deputy Minister of Regional Development and Public Works, Denitsa Nikolova, who opened the joint working meeting of the Directors-General responsible for the territorial cohesion and urban issues in the EU. The meeting is part of the events included in the calendar of the Bulgarian Presidency of the Council of the EU.
The approach to the development of regions after 2020 was among the main topics of the discussion, along with the future of EU cohesion policy in the new programming period with regard to an integrated territorial and urban development. Deputy Minister Nikolova noted that in the future regional policy, more efforts should be made to strengthen the relations between territorial cohesion and urban development.
"The most important issue in the field of territorial cohesion is the implementation of the Roadmap for the renewal of the new Territorial Agenda after 2020, including through the creation of a dedicated task force for this purpose,"
she said. In her opinion, cohesion policy should continue to foster the implementation of integrated approaches and instruments of territorial and urban development, while at the same time the rules and procedures should be considerably simplified in order to stimulate the implementation of these instruments. Deputy Minister Nikolova emphasised the need for targeted support for balanced territorial development to stimulate investments not only in big cities, but in all settlements and regions. Establishing pillar cities, centres of economic growth, does not exclude the development of all other towns around those cities; on the contrary, it will contribute to achieving a balanced territorial development.
"We should not be looking for competition between the various cities, but to achieve a much more global goal – to develop all the settlements that are connected to the main cities,"
explained Deputy Minister Nikolova. The projects and investments should be tailored to the individual characteristics of each region and settlement, taking into account the challenges facing them and should focus mainly on the potential of the specific territory in terms of natural resources, geographical position, economic relations, functional independence, resource provision and opportunities for development.
In the course of the discussions, the participants discussed the possibilities for developing and using appropriate territorial indicators of the achievements in the field of urban development, to measure and track the performance of integrated actions and investments in a particular territory. This topic was discussed also in the context of the preparation of the next programming period after 2020 and the need to ensure equal access to European funds for all regions, municipalities and settlements in the country.
The host of the first ever joint meeting at directors’ level was the Ministry of Regional Development and Public Works, as an institution in charge of matters related to territorial cohesion and urban policy.