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Balearic Islands and Karelia Chosen as European Region of the Year 2003

Organisation The European Region of the Year
Ronda Universitat, 7
E - 08007 Barcelona

The Balearic Islands (Spain) and the Republic of Karelia (Russia), have been chosen as European Region of the Year 2003 by an International Jury consisting of the following members: Sir Albert Bore, President of the Committee of the Regions of the European Union; Leone Rizzo, Administrator of the European Parliament's Committee on Regional Policy, Transport and Tourism; Risto Koivisto, who was, until last week, President of the Chamber of the Regions of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe; Xavier Tudela, President of the European Region of the Year Organisation.

The European Region of the Year project gets under way with this first nomination, and will formally come into effect on 1 January 2003. It is an initiative which aims to increase awareness and recognition of the activities of the regions in Europe, make new contributions to building up the regions and European integration and, finally to show the regions chosen as European Region of the Year in their European and international context, from every aspect, including the social, cultural, economic and tourism aspects. The initiative has certain similarities with the European Capitals of Culture, but this is in the sphere of the regions.

Every year, two regions will be designated as European Region of the Year, regions which must come from different countries, as is the case of the Balearic Islands and the Republic of Karelia.

The Balearic Islands is a region located in the Western Mediterranean. The archipelago consists of the islands of Majorca, Minorca, Ibiza, Formentera and other smaller islands. In total, they cover an area of 5 014 km2, have 1 238 km of coastline, and a population of 760 000. It is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Europe. Last year, ten million people visited this region. The services sector is indisputably the largest source of income for the Balearics.

The Republic of Karelia is located in North-western Russia. It covers an area of 180 000 km2, has a 732 km-long border with Finland, and a population of 766 000. Over 49% of the region is covered with forest, and 25% with water. There are over 60 000 lakes. Lakes Ladoga and Onega are the largest. The total length of the rivers is 83 000 km. Mining and forestry are the Republic's main sources of income.

In the next few weeks, official signing ceremonies for the nominations will be held in Palma de Mallorca (Balearics) and Petrozavodsk (Karelia); capitals of the two regions chosen. This will be the occasion for a presentation of the projects that both regions will develop to mark their nomination as European Region of the Year 2003.

Any region of Europe may aspire to be nominated the European Region of the Year. Regions that wish to obtain this nomination must submit their candidature, at the appropriate time in the prescribed form, to the office of the promoting organisation in Barcelona, following the planned schedule. The period for submission of candidatures to be nominated European Region of the Year 2004 will end on 30 September this year.

The President of the European Commission, Romano Prodi, has stated that the European Region of the Year "is an example of an encouraging project which will foster the participation of the regions in the regional construction of the Union".

Jos Chabert, until a few weeks ago President of the Committee of the Regions of the European Union, stated that "the regions are becoming more important in Europe every day. Not only within the member states, but also in the construction of Europe. Therefore, I welcome the initiative of nominating a region of Europe each year as European Region of the Year. This project will contribute to promoting awareness of what is happening in the regions, and will facilitate the exchange of information and experience between regions. I hope and wish this project all the success that it deserves".

Barcelona, 12 June 2002

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Created: June 24, 2002. Last updated: June 24, 2002.
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