The European Union will continue to consider Europe's coalfield regions as one of the priorities within EU regional policies. This was the message given in a speech by Mrs. Monika Wulf-Mathies, Commissioner in charge of regional and cohesion policies, to the "Action for Mining Communities" (ACOM) during their bi-annual conference in Strasbourg on 17 February 1995. The Commissioner stressed that the EU was fully aware of the burden that restructuring processes have both for communities and regions. The EU's regional policies, especially the efforts within the EU's steel and coal initiative, RECHAR, can function as an effective tool to promote sustainable development in the regions. Mrs. Wulf-Mathies underlined that the EU's regional programmes have to be implemented in an integrated manner, involving the Commission and the Member States on the one hand and local politicians, the private sector and trade unions on the other. The guarantor of a genuinely integrated effort for regional policy is the local partnership. For RECHAR this means an important role for the coalfield countries themselves in designing and implementing their own programmes.