The 2017 Forum will build on the conclusions and evaluations of the previous forums, meetings and conferences and will frame decentralised cooperation between Belgium, France and Romania within the Europe 2020 priorities. The Europe 2020 aims are translated into national priorities, but they only make sense if local authorities and civil society groups are taking over these prioirities while implementing policies and projects. The 2017 Forum wants to focus on the role of local action groups in implementing and achieving these priorities. With this general background in mind, the Forum will look into the following topics in more detail.
Areas in Romania, France and Belgium with ‘old industries’ are experiencing difficulties with regard to economic development and are in need of large-scale investment in order to regenerate societal structures. Moreover, these areas are facing massive changes in economic activities and jobs. They depend on national and European policies as well as on the capacity of local actors to plan and develop a new base for future economic development. Within the framework of this theme, the question on how decentralised cooperation can contribute to the development of reconversion is central.
Social Investment and Social Economy
Recent literature shows that the ‘traditional’ way of looking at development in terms of economical growth is not sufficient anymore. The link between economic growth and quality of life is highly questioned. Achievements are transformed into the question ‘what are we really able to do?’. Taken into account the recent initiatives and possibilities developed in Romania concerning social economy, local groups from both countries will develop strategies for social investments.
In the first half of 2016, the Romanian government announced the ‘integrated package to fight poverty’ consisting of 47 measures to work on poverty reduction. Rural development is an important part of this package. Supporting rural entrepreneurship/ tourism, improving health care, strengthening education and developing local rural capacities are opportunities for local action groups.
The decision-making processes in Belgium, Romania and France are stretching from the central institutional level to local action groups particpating in the Forum. The principle of subsidiarity is gaining significance. In this context, more and more intermediary structures are developing strategies to have a voice in the public debate. It’s clear that voting is an important aspect in public participation. But is it enough? Or how can (local) authorities stimulate the process from participation to civic engagement through for example youth movements, citizens councils…?
National and local authorities face various challenges related to the changing context of European welfare states. In the case of health care, policy-makers must respond effectively to the challenge of meeting the health care needs of rapidly ageing populations, while simultaneously guaranteeing basic social protection for the most vulnerable. In this topic, decentralised cooperation practices in health care will be presented: home care, social medical centres, e-health….
The 2017 Forum will offer the opportunity to discuss and present cultural exchanges between (local) groups from Belgium, France and Romania. On top of that: Romania will be the guest country for Europalia 2019 in Belgium. The Forum will be a moment of developing ideas and actions for the next 2 years.