I was pleased to discover the latest Eurobarometer findings about "Citizens' awareness and perceptions of EU Regional policy". Not only is this survey a precious source of reflection and ideas on how to better communicate on the positive results of our policy on the ground, but in many ways it also confirms that our new areas of focus for the 2014-2020 period are the right ones.
The report indeed highlights that three quarters of Europeans consider that our investments should first tackle the issue of high unemployment and contribute to regenerate deprived urban areas. And this is precisely what we are doing.
More than eight in ten of respondents mentioned the importance of investments in small and medium-sized businesses, vocational and employment training and renewable and clean energy, while 86% of them underlined the need for investments in the environment sector. This reflects that we made right choices in the reform of Cohesion Policy for the 2014-2020 period; our first objective is to create growth and jobs in Europe, through strategic investments in four key sectors: support to small businesses, energy efficiency and sustainable resources, the digital agenda and research and innovation.
Furthermore, in 2014-2020, we have put a stronger emphasis on the urban dimension of our policy, especially in the field of sustainable urban development, which directly addresses the need for the regeneration of deprived urban areas and assistance to the urban communities. More than €15 billion from the European Regional Development Fund are earmarked for investments in this field in 2014-2020.
Now, a particular part of the report caught my attention; the part detailing the findings of the survey regarding the citizens' awareness of what we do to foster cross border cooperation. Only a fifth of respondents were aware that EU regional funding invested in this field! It shows that we have some work to do to promote our INTERREG programmes, which tangibly demonstrate the EU's added value by bringing together communities and helping them find joint solutions to common problems.
I am committed to promote these programmes and this is why I will go to Luxembourg on 15 September to participate in a conference on the 25th anniversary of INTERREG, and then to Vienna on 21 September for the European Cooperation Day. And last but not least, during my mandate, I intend to visit as many INTERREG projects as I can!