Video message for the launch of 2021-2027 funding period for strong regions in Niedersachsen (Lower Saxony)

(Source: European Commission)

“Check against delivery”

Dear Minister Honé,

distinguished guests,

It is my pleasure and an honour to say a few words at this important moment: the launch of 2021-2027 funding period in Niedersachsen.

An important moment for the Lower Saxony programme, the only multi-fund programme in Germany, and an important moment for all who want to see strong regions in Lower Saxony.

My thanks to Minister Birgit Honé for the invitation. And my congratulations to you, and your team. You have all the necessary ingredients for a successful programme. You tackle the challenges of our future: the challenges of digitalisation, of sustainability, of building a diverse and resilient economy.

And you build on the most reliable of foundations: motivated and expert partners who are ready to cooperate not just within the region, but also with their European peers. This is the best foundation for a strong programme: involvement of local stakeholders and partnership with others!

Lower Saxony is a beacon of quality with your innovative projects fostering mobility and better living, your support to young people and idea generation, your territorial approaches and exemplary use of the funding opportunities that cohesion policy offers.

And dear colleagues, in the coming years, we will need such strong programmes and such strong partners to achieve our common ambitions!

Let me highlight two policy priorities.

First, the transition to a green economy. The European Green Deal is a fundamental shift. For Europe to become the world’s first climate neutral continent, we must change the ways we produce and consume, the ways we travel and work, the ways we heat our houses.

All these changes bring new opportunities, and new jobs in new sectors, from renovation to renewable energy, and call for policies that support new skills and new investments that promote regional convergence for a stronger Union and a competitive single market.

The new cohesion programmes focus on the dual green and digital transition: early projections suggest that we will dedicate more than half of cohesion policy investments in the 2021-27 programmes to the green and digital transitions. And I know this is an important focus of the Lower Saxony programme.

A second common priority is addressing the needs of rural areas.

Thriving rural areas build a strong social fabric and resilient economies.

Our Long Term Vision for Rural Areas proposes a comprehensive action plan from now until 2040 to support our rural communities and businesses, and help them reach their full potential.

Cohesion policy has always invested in rural areas. In the 2014-2020 programmes, rural areas represented over 25% of our investments. In the new programming period, we will continue to invest massively in rural areas.

And Lower Saxony is rising to the challenge of turning these ambitions to a reality. You are a good example, a beacon of quality, in four key ways.

First, you are a trailblazer, the first multifund programme in Germany. You bring together two funds, and two different types of regions. This enables a real cross-cutting approach, tackling all the challenges in a co-ordinated way.

Second, you are pioneers in territorial instruments which work with local partners to serve local needs, but also build up to something unique at the regional level.

Your programme for resilient city centres set up with REACT-EU investments, is an excellent example of innovation sparked in the pandemic context using new digital technologies, and cohesion support to keep cities attractive and liveable.

The new programme “Regions of the futures” is also an excellent example of integrated territorial investments which will support cross-county cooperation.

These innovative territorial tools will also help cities play their role as anchors and locomotives for the broader region. We will all be watching the results with great interest.

Third, I am pleased to see many innovative solutions. From the Carplane® to the living test lab for smart mobility, Lower Saxony is truly the “Land of mobility”. And with over half the new programmes invested in innovation, we look forward to many exciting new products and services in the future.

I also urge you to get the maximum benefit from European solutions such as the new European Bauhaus, our new community of practice for applying design principles to our buildings, neighbourhoods and events, so that they are not just greener, but also more inclusive and aesthetically pleasing: sustainability with style!

Fourth and finally, you are an example of partnership. The timely involvement of all the territorial partners, economic, social and environmental, has always been self-evident in Lower Saxony. My thanks for this, you are building true ownership and visibility at the local level.

Over the years, “Europe for Lower Saxony” has become a strong brand that stands for engagement with all partners. I particularly welcome your “Expo of ideas” which is a shining example of harnessing the enthusiasm and innovative mindset of young people.

Dear colleagues, in conclusion, we have today a “once in a generation” opportunity. An opportunity to use exceptional levels of European and national investment, to build back better after Covid, and to redesign our economy for the green and digital revolution.

I urge you to continue to be a beacon of quality, a good example, showing the way for the multi-fund approach, showing the way in terms of territorial planning, from cities of the future to rural development, showing the way in terms of innovative projects, and showing the way in terms of partnership.

I urge you to share your experiences, in all the relevant networks and communities of practice, from the New European Bauhaus to Interreg Europe.

We in the Commission will continue to support you, with investment, with exchange of experience, and in any way we can.

I wish you all the best, for the programme launch today, and in the months and years of work ahead.

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