The EU Strategy for the Alpine Region (EUSALP) connects 7 countries, including 5 EU Member States (out of these three - France, Germany and Italy at regional level, and two - Austria and Slovenia with their whole territory at the national level) and 2 non-EU countries (Liechtenstein and Switzerland). The Alpine region is one of the largest economic and productive regions of Europe covering the resident population of about 80 million people living in total of 48 regions. The Alps are the water tower of Europe and are known all over the world for their natural beauty, varied landscapes, rich biodiversity and cultural heritage, which therefore represent also an attractive tourist destination for millions of guests every year. On the other hand the Alpine area is composed of territories with contrasted demographic, social and economic trends and a great cultural and linguistic diversity. This diversity goes along with a great variety of governance systems and traditions. Both the common specificities of the Alpine area and its variety and diversity call for cooperation.
The EU Strategy for the Alpine region (EUSALP) is based on a joint initiative of Alpine states and regions to strengthen cooperation between them and to address Alpine-specific challenges, such as the balancing of development and environmental protection, the enhancement of competitiveness, and the reduction of territorial disparities.The implementation of EUSALP is organised into nine Action Groups which are addressing implementation of four thematic objectives of the strategy. The first thematic objective "Economic growth and innovation" is closely connected to implementation of smart specialisation strategies.
What is the rationale for S3 cooperation?
Smart specialisation begins within a region or country by exploiting place-based expertise and industrial skills within the regional innovation eco-system. However some regions may have insufficient innovation eco-system complexity for getting connected to the global innovation networks. Regional innovation eco-systems could be further strengthened through transnational learning and collaboration in smart specialisation based on complementarity competences. These are additionally leveraged at the macro-regional level with cooperation topics of common interest.
Actors involved in S3 cooperation
EU Macro-Regional Strategies provide an integrated framework for cooperation bringing together various stakeholders which is relevant for driving regional S3 strategies to transnational dimension. The multi-level governance structure of the Macro-Regional Strategies provide a good basis for creating strategic partnerships. In the EUSALP the General Assembly is responsible for general political guidelines and includes high-level political representatives of the participating states and regions. The Executive Board is be made up of representatives of states and regions supervise implementation of the EUSALP and provide strategic guidance. The Action Groups and Action Group leaders form the core of the implementation level. European Commission, and the Alpine Convention and the Alpine Space transnational programme are important contributors for strategic guidance. Alpine Space programme is the EU territorial cooperation programme for the Alpine region and an important tool for implementation of EUSALP. The programme's priority axis 4 'Well-Governed Alpine Space' is designed specifically to support EUSALP governance.
What facilitates S3 cooperation in Alpine Region?
The S3 Platform team participated actively in the Launch Conference of the EU Strategy for the Alpine Region EUSALP, co-organized by the European Commission (DG REGIO) and the Slovenian 2016 EUSALP Presidency (the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Slovenia), which took place in Brdo (Slovenia) on 25-26 January 2016. This was a timely opportunity to present the role of the smart specialisation in the agreed strategy's structure, and to gather concrete suggestions for its optimal performance in a multi-level governance framework. The EUSALP stakeholders were invited to take advantage of the S3 and its thematic platforms which were set to become a key tool to help regional and national actors to identify relevant synergies between their S3 strategies and interregional cooperation to boost competitiveness and innovation in thematic areas.