[:en]Slovak Presidency could create a network of regions that are undergoing a new industrial revolution, says the EurActiv.sk Plenipotentiary for revitalization šesťmiliónového Hauts-de-France PHILIPPE VASSEUR.

Northern French region of Hauts-de-France has become a laboratory of a third Industrial Revolution Jeremy Rifkin. How did you manage?

We really wanted to make our region a laboratory. The first condition for this was the unification of all stakeholders. We wanted to avoid that this case was either purely political or purely economic. The first hurdle we had to overcome was to unite politicians, the government majority and opposition minority business – all companies in the region, which was not at all self-evident – and, ultimately, all higher education – universities and researchers.

The second prerequisite was of course to have a vision that we put together with Jeremy Rifkin. And immediately translate it into concrete projects. We were based on the principle that the project should not be imposing on the top, by any authority, but that the design of local actors, either the city or company.

We could put one, two examples of completed projects?

Let me give you an example of one small and one large project. We have researchers who develop new energy systems. They deal with the team, how to capture the underwater energy so that it can be used. They were engaged in it also, how to use the wind, but not through large turbines that we know, but a new type of personalized turbines on the roof of apartment buildings. Especially in the case of wind turbines, we managed to transform them first into prototypes and now also in production.

You’re talking about research or projects already producing electricity?

At the beginning there were research projects. But especially in the case of wind turbines, we managed to transform them first into prototypes and now also in production. Our task was to accompany the project promoter until it is implemented. This includes advice and funding. We came with a new financing instrument.

Another project that is collective, is to make the Hauts-de-France region, where most uses biomethane injected. Terms of production and the subsequent injection (from agriculture, eg. Of compost, manure or directly from the digestion of cattle – Ed. Ed.) To the distribution network. We worked on it with several types of operators. In France we have GrDF company that operates the network for gas distribution. And in September we will formalize cooperation with a large technology center in the field of biomethane, which will benefit the people of the region. It runs a total of 350 projects. These are projects that are plus or minus financially and proceed from that generate economic activity. Funding is a problem, but not the most important.
How have these projects financed?

Funding is a problem, but not the most important. The most important issue is to have a good project. The second most important issue is to ensure that the existing legal framework hamper new projects. In France we have a public administration that is quite powerful, however the regulation creates especially for what already exists. When you come up with new solutions, does not always fit into the legal framework. We hope that we in France manage to get the right to experiment with new solutions. These are the first two constraints.

Only then comes the financing. We used the existing financing facilities in France and in Europe. We have also put new instruments, in particular civil passbook, which collected money used to finance projects of the Third Industrial Revolution. Finally we have across Europe – a European fund for strategic investments – and in cooperation with the EIB and with our regional parliaments created a special investment fund of about € 50 million, which, however, allows the mobilization of up to 250 million euros. We have a whole range of tools. If the need for additional, vynájdeme them.

A major problem in your region is unemployment. As these projects contribute to the creation of new jobs?

Yes, our region has a very high unemployment rate, about 12.5 percent across the region. In some areas it is much more. Create new jobs is our top priority. Businesses, public institutions but also tried to explain that we are working on the transition to a new economy, which is connected and sustainable, but the goal is to create economic activity and jobs.

What do you expect from the Slovak Presidency, which has just begun. You’ve heard before about Slovakia or you’ve visited?

I was a minister in the French government for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food. In this capacity, I visited Slovakia 20 years ago. I’m ready to share our experience so that we create a network of regions involved in the third industrial revolution.
Do you feel that it’s little changed since then?

Very, very. Especially in Bratislava can be seen after 20 years of great changes. Bratislava region gives the impression of a dynamic region. I hope the beginning Slovak Presidency will move a number of initiatives. I heard the Commissioner (Maroš Šefčovič) originating from Slovakia, it calls for cooperation regions, entering the third industrial revolution. In French, we have the term “Chiche”, which means “Let’s do it!” I am ready to share our experience so that we create a network of regions involved in the third industrial revolution.

Does your region partners in Slovakia?

None. We have some contacts in the Netherlands and Luxembourg …

… In neighboring countries?

Yes. But if the Slovak Presidency could create a network of these transition regions, Slovakia created something really important for Europe.[:]

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