CEPS was commissioned to carry out a “Comparative study on energy policies in the EU macro-regions”, within the framework of the Alpine Space project AlpGov “Implementing Alpine Governance Mechanisms of the European Strategy for the Alpine Region”. This study was aimed at understanding the differences and commonalities between the governance structures of the Macro-Regional Strategies (MRS), by looking at both the top-down EU and national levels, as well as at the bottom-up local level. Keu to this objective was to understand the decision-making processes in the macro regions and more specifically, how this reflected in action on the ground and in the implementation of the different strategies. A special focus was given to the objectives in the energy sector, with the purpose to identify the present and potential contribution of the macro regions to the EU’s energy policy. The study has been undertaken with a combination of desk research, meeting the project coordinators in a cross-MRS workshop, and telephone and online interviews of key stakeholders from the macro regions.
The study described the emergence of the macro-regional policy and provided an overview of the fundamental governance structure common for all the MRS. It also highlighted some of the key challenges faced by the macro-regional strategies, and explored the current state of development of each of the macro-regional strategies and their respective strengths and weaknesses. A few actions in the energy field were also highlighted. Lastly, the study assessed the contribution of the MRS to EU energy policy, analysed the potential role of the macro regions post-2020 in the area of energy, and considered what can be done to improve the policy structure.
Additionally, CEPS presented the preliminary study results to key stakeholders active in energy policies in the MRS, lead a workshop stakeholder consultative session and prepared the workshop methodology and documentation in cooperation with Interact EU programme. The workshop was held in Vienna, Austria, on 2-3 April 2019.
Among its findings, the study revealed that the current Cohesion Policy structure and Connecting Europe Facility were not well-suited for the macro regions, particularly local actors. In the energy field, the MRS could play an important role in the implementation of the Energy Union. In the area of research, innovation and competitiveness, macro-regional collaboration could help by bringing together regional institutes seeking solutions for common challenges in the macro regions. Given the heterogeneity and large territorial coverage of the macro-regional strategies, the study emphasized the need to ensure that the MRS interests are taken seriously by the central governments in the larger Member States. Lastly, the study upholds that the level of importance that stakeholders give to the MRS will also depend on the involvement of central governments.