We met Corina Cretu, European Commissioner for Regional Policy, to discuss the current challenges Europe is facing in supporting jobs and economic growth. She stressed that, 40 years after its creation, regional policy is the most important investment tool of the EU. The new 2014-2020 priorities are research and innovation, the digital agenda, support to SMEs and the low-carbon economy. Regarding green growth, European Union will invest more than EUR 38 billion in the low-carbon economy, which is twice the amount spent during the previous funding period. These investments will help regions and cities invest in energy-efficient buildings, renewable energy, smart grids and sustainable urban transport. Commissioner Crețu also stressed that we have to cut red tape: “We do need further simplification of our procedures, while preserving sound administrative and financial management. I know this is a difficult challenge, but I do not want to hear again that an SME is no longer interested in receiving our support, because it finds it too lengthy or bureaucratic.”

We talked with Roger Evans, Deputy Mayor of London, about the business development challenges facing cities today as they compete globally for skills and investment. Roger told us about his passion for the city and its vibrant development, describing recent initiatives such as the “Smart London” plan adopted in 2014. He said that London’s economy is expected to double over the next 20 years. We hope to be there to see if he is right, but the chances are high that he will be.