As an addition to the original post below - What could Cornwall do in Europe - I'd like to bring attention to the Network of Regional Governments for Sustainable Development nrg4SD which Cornwall could participate in if given full EU regional status and government.
The nrg4SD Network aims to be a voice for, and to represent regional
governments at the global level, promoting sustainable development and
partnerships at the regional level around the world.
Original post below:
In part this is a response to the question raised on the Cornwall 24 forum "What has Europe ever done for Cornwall.
The Cornish in Space, well in the autumn when fungal conditions are favorable certain elements within the community might say so. Leaving aside inner-space exploration, with the closure of Goonhilly Earth Station , are the Cornish every going to look to the stars again? As a recognized level 1 European region with devolved government that could be something we decide for ourselves. Introducing one possible option - NEREUS - a network of European Regions working hand in hand on the development and use of space technologies in Europe. The European Regions are heavily involved at both ends of the Space chain, from infrastructures to applications:
At the moment OurDuchy (now there's an idea for a blog) is a level 2 European region which - due to our relative level of poverty - means the UK government can milk the EU cash cow for convergence funding. Sadly this money is then feed to unelected English quangos none of whom are based in Kernow; in fact I believe Cornwall is the only 'region' in the EU that qualifies for such funding but then doesn't actually get to administer it. It is this same undemocratic milieu, less interested in outer space more interested in building on all available space, which produced the Regional Spatial Strategy.
The unelected, and now defunct, South West Regional Assembly in 2006 proposed that 45,000 houses should be constructed in Cornwall. Following a report from an ‘Examination in Public’ (an unelected panel) this rose to 68,700! Wild house building and the massive in-migration it stimulates coupled with an obsessive focus on the tourist industry as our only hope have totally failed to kick start the Cornish economy so why do our quangocrats continue to blunder down this path ? It seems we are an inconvenient periphery (opens pdf) that they have no idea what to do with. That being said what does Cornwall need to pull it out of the economic doldrums it finds itself in?
1) Democracy and accountability are certainly important ingredients in the mix often ignored by policy makers concerning Cornwall. The EU 'regions' showing the best economic development also have the autonomy and flexibility that enable them to devise their own tailor made solutions to their specific challenges, however democratic institutions are not enough.
2) Equally important are the networks of company RnD departments, centers of research, and government bodies that go to form a 'Learning Region'. High quality linkages between different regional players such as: local businesses; community groups; and education providers go to support a local culture of enterprise and innovation. We need an environment where information flows freely within Cornwall and also within the regional network around Cornwall. Would our links to Wales, Brittany and the rest of the Celtic world facilitate this if given a chance?
Evolutionary economics sees the 'region' as an integral part in the creation of economies/technologies. The region is a unique mix of factors- networks, institutions, and locally or nationally derived rules of action, customs, understandings and values. In the context of this theory it has been argued that a region, to be successful, must have its own 'civic culture' this brings me to the third ingredient namely Cornishness.
3) Ignoring the Cornish national question, our distinct history, culture and sense of identity are integral elements of Cornwall's civic culture and, therefore, should be made to earn their living rather than buried under unsustainable housing developments, population growth and tourist kitsch. It’s not about preserving old Cornwall on the one hand and dealing with the 21st century on the other, but rather recognizing our identity as a strength around which to re-build our institutions and enterprise culture. Although various voluntary sector groups and local institutions do a sterling job in keeping the Cornish flame alight in Europe just imagine what our strong civic culture and Cornish brand could do with a fully devolved regional government speaking for them, one which was nested in a network of competing and cooperating regions.
Coming back to NEREUS, a Cornu-european space program might not be the answer but EU programs in renewable energy, maritime studies, marine biology or any number of other sectors might just give our young people something better to aspire to than working for a celebrity chef.