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Regions & Cities 2018: A deep dive into the EU regional funds

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The European Union has allocated around €350bn for the 2014-2020 period to cohesion policy – accounting for a full third of the EU budget. Only the EU's agriculture policy receives more.

STAKEHOLDER Making

STAKEHOLDER Making the most of Europe’s Zoos and Aquariums The European Commission is due to release the results of its Regulatory Fitness and Performance (REFIT) review of the Zoos Directive, the main legislation governing the operation of zoological gardens and aquariums this quarter. The European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA), which represents 300 of the most progressive zoos and aquariums in the EU and beyond, is of the opinion that the Directive is fit for purpose, but that more needs to be done to ensure good implementation across the EU. EAZA is Europe’s key centre of excellence for scientific knowledge about wild animal welfare and management, and proposes to work closely with stakeholders to help zoological institutions meet and exceed the standards laid down in the Directive and its accompanying Good Practices Document. National governments across the Union rely on zoos and aquariums to help them meet their obligations to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CDB)’s Aichi Targets. These targets commit signatories (and every EU Member State is a signatory) to the education of the public about biodiversity and its loss, and to work to conserve species threatened with extinction. EAZA Members take this duty seriously, and our inspection and accreditation regime goes above and beyond the requirements of the Zoos Directive. This places us in a unique position to be able to assist the European Union and its Member States to implement the Directive, and ensure that all zoos in each country are doing their share to educate the public correctly, carry out meaningful scientific research, protect animals via ex situ conservation and support for field conservation, and to provide the highest standard of care to the animals that live there. Making sure that zoos and aquariums live up to the ideal of the Zoos Directive is not a simple task for Member States. Zoo and aquarium operations are complex, and only good zoos and aquariums understand the full range of criteria that should be applied; this does however, raise a question of the objectivity of any zoo inspectorate that has the ability to judge standards accurately. On the other hand, it is in the long-term interest not only of EAZA and its Members, but also national governments to ensure that zoos and aquariums meet the highest possible standards. Without such scrutiny, public support for zoos and aquariums will surely be lost, and with it, the ability of our institutions to work to reduce biodiversity loss through conservation, education and research. EAZA therefore proposes to be a strong and vocal partner of the European Union as it reviews the best options for implementing the Zoos Directive. Our professional development network, the EAZA Academy, stands ready to provide training or guidance to trainers and inspectors. Our Members also stand ready to show inspectors and ministries the standards we expect as a benchmark for accreditation; and while we realise that not every zoo can be an EAZA zoo, we also believe strongly that every zoo should aspire to our standard. EAZA calls on the European Commission and Member States to review carefully the REFIT findings, and to use our expertise and passion to ensure that zoos are fit for purpose both now and into the future. Follow EAZA on Twitter @EAZAZoos Or visit our website www.eaza.net Disclaimer: This article is sponsored by a third party. All opinions in this article reflect the views of the author and not of EUobserver.

Tug of war between 'top -down' and 'bottom-up' cohesion money The European Commission has promised greater flexibility for local authorities when it comes to delivering on-the-ground results - but it has also tied cohesion policy to the European Semester, a tool used to coordinate macroeconomic policies. By Nikolaj Nielsen Carola Gunnarsson is the mayor of Sala, a town north of the Swedish capital, Stockholm. Like many of her counterparts throughout other member states, Gunnarsson wants much greater say, input and flexibility into how EU funds are divided up and spent on the ground. "Sometimes I think that we can't do exactly what we need, and we can't use the money in the best way...in the proper way," she told EUobserver in an interview. Gunnarsson's frustration is a reflection of a complex administrative machine that divides out EU cohesion policy funding, often with a top-down approach. Getting the money to the right projects at the local level, she said, also makes the European Union more 'tangible' for the majority of people. "I think some of the funds are the only way to show the citizens that we are a part of the European Union," Gunnarsson believes. Stockholm's Metro. Some 70 percent of people in Europe now live in urban areas Photo: Arild 21 — REGIONS & CITIES 2018

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