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Santa Cruz de Tenerife ,  April 13, 2018

Europe must recognise weaknesses and potential of ORs, says Rui Bettencourt

The Regional Assistant Secretary of the Presidency for External Relations urged political, economic and social decision-makers in Santa Cruz de Tenerife to "understand, apprehend and defend" the "ambivalent" position of Outermost Regions (ORs). On the one hand, they need the European Union's support and, on the other hand, "they are a very strong, territorial and oceanic asset at global level."
"This is not a position taken by a single Outermost Region, nor is even a position of all Outermost Regions. It is a position that must be taken into consideration so that the European Union may fulfil its purpose and the goals of the European project," said Rui Bettencourt.
The government official spoke at the seminar "Challenges and opportunities for the economic, social and territorial development in Outermost Regions." The event is promoted by the Committee of the Regions and the Conference of Presidents of Outermost Regions, currently chaired by the Government of the Canary Islands.
For the Regional Secretary, it is necessary to address the issue of outermost regions, while being aware of the weaknesses that need European solidarity and the potential of these regions for the European Union.
"The Cohesion Policy will not be effective in the EU unless the reality of EU outermost regions is taken into account," stressed the government official. As he mentioned, "if there is any territory that has to be regarded in terms of cohesion policies to offset its constraints, it has to be the Outermost Regions."
"We are talking about a new era in the EU, where ORs have to play a fundamental role," said the Regional Secretary. According to him, "without understanding this ambivalence, we cannot overcome the new challenges the EU is facing, nor can we provide an appropriate response to Outermost Regions.
In his speech, Rui Bettencourt also addressed the importance of the maritime area of ORs, which represents 38% of the European sea, considering that this is a "fundamental" aspect. However, it "has to be regarded with great care and attention" and with "a spirit of partnership and development."
Moreover, the Regional Secretary also mentioned the issue of transport in ORs and in the EU, defending the need to have "adequate" transport, particularly regarding maritime transport, in order "to boost the economic development of these regions."
"The 'motorways of the sea' cannot solely benefit European territories that are not hindered," said Rui Bettencourt. In this regard, he defended that the distance of ORs to the continental shelf should be "mitigated and reduced" in the future so that the mobility of people and goods and the economies of these regions may acquire "another dimension and other potentialities."
The Regional Secretary also discussed the importance of funds and the maintenance of specific aid programmes, such as POSEI, mainly in agriculture, a key sector for the Azores. They should be maintained in other areas that are also fundamental to Outermost Regions, namely the European Solidarity Fund, which is important for a region such as the Azores. Moreover, he called for "an easier access to this fund in the next programming period as well as to other relevant funds, particularly in the field of research and science.


Official government press-releases presented in all foreign languages interfaces of the Azorean Government Portal (Portal do Governo dos Açores) are a sub-set of the government's official press-releases daily output and are chosen for translation and publication on the foreign language interfaces based on audience segmentation criteria. The entire collection of the Azorean government press-releases is available in portuguese, here, from the GACS Press Office site.

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