George Kremlis: European cities need to share experience with other cities and develop networks
"Economic, social and territorial cohesion are key EU priorities."
- December 18, 2017 07:30
- Stanimira Lukanova
George Kremlis, Head of Unit DG for the Environment, shares his opinion on the need of a unified platform for the European Municipalities, the need of sharing experience and information, as well as the importance of the equal development of EU regions.
What do you think about a unified platform for European municipalities and its main goal to make and keep European citizens better informed about what is taking place in the European Union?
The experience of the Bulgarian platform (Kmeta.BG) constitutes a good practice than can be developed successfully across the EU. A tailored platform for the needs of the European Municipalities providing information and guidance relevant for their competencies will have a strong added value for them and their citizens and will bring Europe closer to them.
Do you think that a problem with accessing and gaining information exists among European citizens when trying to update their information about European policy implementation?
There is still a communication and information gap about the EU, in particular as regards useful information for the Municipalities in relation to EU programs and initiatives concerning them. Circular economy, as a new cross cutting priority of the EU, and renewable sources of energy should be in the center of the Municipalities interests and be made accessible to them.
Any policies currently being deployed in Member States and the resulting monitoring reports – as the case may be - by the Commission are available online. However, due to the technical and dense nature of the information, the civil society is most often not keen to enter into deep research to identify what could be of interest to them. Nevertheless, the Commission is currently investing an important amount of resources and developing online infrastructure to bring the public at the center of European policy implementation.
What do you think should be done to encourage the improvement of the small European cities?
They need to be aware of the possibilities that the EU offers to them and exploit them to the maximum; they also need to share experience with other cities and develop networks.
Do you consider smaller European regions are developing equally well as other larger ones?
Some regions are lagging behind; in particular remote and mountain ones, as well as island regions. Economic, social and territorial cohesion are key EU priorities and the latter one is expressed through the territorial cooperation pillar and the Interreg program which is promoting cooperation among EU regions and the development of common solutions and good practice in the sectors of urban; rural and coastal development, renewables and the environment.
How does information about various projects and financial support opportunities reach the governors of smaller regions?
The European Commission sites provide this information which is not always a tailored one as regards the specific needs of the Municipalities. The dedicated portal for the Municipalities can distill this information and make it more user- friendly.
On a slightly different topic, what do you think Bulgarian priorities should be considering the Presidency of the Council of the European Union in 2018?
Bulgaria in the EU trio is invited to follow the already established priorities which are in the pipeline. Circular economy is one of these priorities which, I believe, should also be promoted at national level. Every Presidency through informal Councils that take place in the country or side events can highlight and promote issues of interest to it. Digital economy, eco-innovation, clean air, energy pipelines/infrastructures and tourism are key priorities of the BG Presidency. I take this opportunity to wish Bulgaria a very successful Presidency in the interest of Europe and its people.
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