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Since its creation, AEIDL has been an active

stakeholder in various policies introduced

by Europe. Policies that targeted local

initiatives, promoting communication and

exchange at European level, identifying good

practices, strengthening local capacities,

empowering local actors, supporting

cooperation, exploiting and disseminating

knowledge, and evaluating results.

Among the initiatives we have been involved

in over the years are: the Local Development

and Employment Initiatives (LDEIs), the

Rural Carrefours, the Territorial Employment

Pacts, rural development policies including

the LEADER Community Initiative and its

equivalent programme for fisheries areas

(FARNET), the EQUAL Community Initiative,

numerous cooperation programmes, urban

development initiatives (URBAN, URBACT),

the EU’s main environment programme,

LIFE, the local development aspects of the

EU Cohesion policy, and ESF initiatives

focusing on social enterprise and the social

economy.

These different initiatives have contributed

to building an open, inclusive and

imaginative Europe – a proud achievement

for countless local actors and project

promoters who have received EU support

for their projects. These people are proud

to be involved in the construction of a

community unique in the world, rich in

diversity and multiculturalism.

Economic, social

and territorial cohesion

The Single European Act, signed in 1986

in response to growing eurosceptisicm in

the face of the oil crisis and the massive

restructuring of whole sectors – coalmining,

steelmaking, shipbuilding, textiles, gave the

EU a new competence, that of “economic

and social cohesion”. In concrete terms,

this involved a doubling of the Structural

Funds in 1988 and their concentration on

the most underdeveloped regions.

In 2007, the territorial dimension, which is

at the heart of all AEIDL’s actions, gained

stronger recognition. Complementing the

principle of economic and social cohesion,

the Lisbon Treaty added “territorial

cohesion”, the aim of which was to build

on the strengths of each Member State of

the EU, enabling them to make the greatest

possible contribution to sustainable

development and European integration.

Despite the difficulties encountered, the

results are there for all to see: an unprece-

dented transformation in Member States,

high-quality infrastructure in all regions,

including those at the very periphery of

the EU, a major reduction in disparities

between countries, a significant drop in

unemployment rates, and a European social

model serving as an example for the rest of

the world.

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| Reinventing Europe through Local Initiative