Grenoble, 18 October 2013 – "The Alps are one of the most densely populated mountain areas in the world. What was once a destination for emigrants has today become a favourite tourist destination and the location of modern and innovative companies", State Secretary Lopatka said at a conference on the Alpine space hosted by France. The go-ahead for the new EU Alpine Strategy was given at the conference in Grenoble. Lopatka said the strategy would have to strengthen the rural alpine space and in particular its unique natural environment. France, Italy, Germany, Slovenia, Switzerland, Liechtenstein and Austria were represented at the conference by their foreign ministers and state secretaries for EU matters.
"We aim to strengthen, promote and protect the Alps and all of us share the same goal, namely to launch a macro-regional strategy for this region on EU level. The major objectives of this strategy include closer cooperation and enhanced cross-regional coordination in terms of economy, competitiveness and innovation, the promotion of ecological mobility and infrastructure and the preservation of biodiversity", Lopatka said.
"It is a very positive sign that this EU strategy was proposed by the regions of the Alpine Space and the organisations that focus on this area. This means that the strategy follows a veritable bottom-up approach involving all regional players. Austria welcomes the comprehensive involvement of the civil society in the EU Alpine Space Strategy", State Secretary Lopatka said and added: "I believe that the Alpine Convention – the centre of competence for the protection and sustainable development of the Alpine region with its headquarters in Innsbruck – must play an important role in the future EU strategy."
"I think that this project is also an important tool that will bring the EU closer to the people, demonstrating that there is a tangible connection to the EU and that the EU can generate benefits for them. The 130 million euros earmarked by the EU for this region during the past financial period (2007-2013) are to be increased by a more targeted and better use of EU funds to bring tangible added value to this region", Lopatka said. He concluded: "The Grenoble Declaration that was signed today illustrates the powerful political will behind this effort. Austria will press for the objective to be stipulated at the European Council in December and for quick implementation of the strategy."
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