Since January 2015, Catalonia has held the Four Motors for Europe Presidency, focusing on innovation and the information and communication technology (ICT). The main event of Catalan presidency was held this month and was attended by Catalonia’s Secretary for Foreign and European Union Affairs, as well as the Secretary for Enterprise and Competitiveness, Pere Torres. At the end of the event, a Joint Declaration was signed by representatives of Catalonia, Baden-Württemberg, Rhône-Alpes and Lombardy.
The ‘Sant Pau’ Art Nouveau Site (Recinte Modernista de Sant Pau) was the setting of the main institutional event held on June 10th by the Catalan presidency of the Four Motors for Europe. The Secretary for Foreign and EU Affairs Roger Albinyana chaired the event and outlined that "Europe has always offered us the best tools to face challenges” and that, in this regard, "the Four Motors for Europe network is the best example of this".
In his speech, Secretary Albinyana maintained that, since its commencement, the four Motors for Europe network has been “a pioneering project that has always been committed to innovative proposals" and "it has become a benchmark within the European Union". Roger Albinyana also made reference to Catalonia’s significant involvement in the network as well as its important contribution to the construction of a joint European project: "Catalonia maintains its firm commitment to a strong interconnected European Union” and it will remain “engaged with a Europe that regards plurality and diversity as strengthening factors”.
Additionally, in a lecture entitled "The horizon of Catalonia’s digital transformation", the Secretary for Enterprise and Competitiveness, Pere Torres, highlighted several policies and strategies that the Government has put in place to promote innovation within Catalonia. These strategies comprise platforms such the SmartCAT or RIS3CAT smart specialization programmes, along with continued efforts by the Executive to strengthen the industrial and ICT sectors through various other programmes. Torres stated that "Catalonia’s partnership with Baden-Württemberg, Rhône-Alpes and Lombardy in the Four Motors for Europe framework is essential for the development of these areas".
Furthermore, Secretary Torres added that "industry, logistics and smart tourism are the three pillars of Catalonia’s economic activity" and "innovation must be present in all these areas". In this regard, Torres reminded those attending the event that "the role of public institutions consists in promoting innovation so that the private sector can drive them forward and create growth".
Secretary Torres also underlined the 7 priority areas for the Catalan government’s new industrial strategy (food, health, chemicals and energy, mobility, industrial systems, design and cultural industries) and underlined that these would form “the basis of our actions in the coming years”.
The event was also attended by institutional representatives from the network’s other territories, including Undersecretary Ugo Parolo of the Lombardy Region who is also the President in charge of the Relations with the Regional Assembly; Peter Friedrich, Minister for Bundestrat, European and International Affairs; and the vice president for European Affairs and International Relations of Rhône-Alps region Bernard Soulage.
Each of the above mentioned representatives welcomed the Catalan proposal to focus on innovation and presented their most recent proposals to boost innovation and smart specialization in the regions. Furthermore, they also emphasised the importance of cross-border exchanges to foster cooperation in developing innovation policies, not only within the 4M network but also in line with the policies proposed by European institutions.
At the end of the event a Joint Declaration was signed by the network’s institutional representatives to reaffirm their commitment in developing the ICT sector as a driving force for change, reassert their support for the European Digital Agenda and work together in developing smart strategies.
The Catalan Presidency of the Four Motors for Europe
Catalonia has held the Four Motors for Europe presidency since January 23rd and has been committed to making progress towards a new economic model based on innovation, intelligence and a more sustainable production model.
The ITC sector has been a key area for the Catalan presidency and one which the Government of Catalonia aims to promote by creating a platform to exchange experiences. With regards to the 4M network, these experiences would be transferrable to the European level and would enable its member states to remain at the forefront of Europe in terms of innovation, intelligent strategies and sustainability.
As Presidency holders, the Catalan Government has hosted various activities during the past months including a meeting at Barcelona’s Supercomputing Center and, more recently, at the Government’s Delegation in Brussels the Generalitat held a seminar on Catalonia’s smart specialization strategy (SmartCAT). The latter was attended by the President of the Committee of the Regions, Markku Markkula, who highlighted the role of territories like Catalonia as “real” economic and innovative motors within Europe. Furthermore, last May, Catalonia organised an institutional mission to Baden-Württemberg with various organisations and companies in order to know the latest developments in applied smart technologies.
Finally, in the coming months of its Presidency, the Government of Catalonia has planned a series of events to enhance regional partnerships, including an event entitled 'Smart Regions through Digitalisation' which will be held in Brussels during the 13th European Week of Regions and Cities’ ‘Open Day’.