Members of the Regional Development Committee discussed Commission initiative aimed at maintaining working and skilled population in EU regions.
At the first meeting in 2023, Regional Development Committee welcomed Commissioner for Cohesion and Reforms Elisa Ferreira, who came to present the new Commission initiative aimed at addressing unfavourable demographic changes across the EU and maintaining talents in the EU regions. According to the Harnessing Talent in Europe´s regions initiative, sharp decline in working age population, low share of people with tertiary education and the so called “brain drain” or loss of young skilled population affect already 82 regions in 16 member states representing almost 30% of the EU population. As a result, these regions either face talent development trap or are at risk of falling into this trap, which negatively affects their socio-economic development and increase territorial disparities weakening EU cohesion.
Commissioner Ferreira stressed that the aim of the initiative is to call for attention to these development. She presented the Talent Booster Mechanism – a series of targeted tools such as assistance to regions in developing implementation strategies to address these challenges, use of the cohesion funds to boost innovation, strengthening of the exchange of experiences and access to information via a dedicated portal. Commissioner conceded that no single solution is applicable across the regions and she also noted that financial assistance for the initiative will only be provided under existing instruments.
MEPs welcomed the initiative as an important starting point for further discussions and as a first deliverable of the EU Year of Skills. They stressed the need to address the brain drain in particular and across member states, most notably in EU periphery, where the situation seems to be the most dramatic. They highlighted the importance of concrete actions and speedy implementation of practical steps and called for more investments by member states into provision of public services, infrastructure, education, health and social services in the affected regions. They also suggested exploring possibilities for additional financial resources to support the programme. MEPs believe that in order for the skilled population to stay in the affected regions several other problems have to be addressed simultaneously such as accessible housing, health care and education, availability of qualified jobs and developed infrastructure. MEPs noted that special attention should be paid to fully developing opportunities of the rural areas and of the migration and to bear in mind the importance of inclusiveness for the initiative to be successful.