An ambitious devolution deal is to be explored by the leaders of four county councils.
It is the first step towards a strategic alliance which would create a unified voice for the region and help boost its economy.
In a joint statement, the county council leaders of Derbyshire (Councillor Barry Lewis), Leicestershire (Councillor Nick Rushton), Lincolnshire (Councillor Martin Hill) and Nottinghamshire (Councillor Kay Cutts) said: “We believe that we can achieve much more if we work together, particularly in the areas of connectivity, trade, investment and growth.
“A recent East Midlands Councils report showed that people in our area get the lowest Government spending on economic development and transport in the country, with rail expenditure in the region at just £91 per person, compared to £746 per person in London. This will remain the case unless we join forces and make our voice heard.
“We want to work together to grow our economy so that we build on our strengths and tackle our challenges. We would work with our LEPs and Chambers, and would be complementary to the Midlands Engine.
“The next stage in the plans will be to have further detailed talks to see how we can take the Strategic Alliance forward with a view to eventually being able to draw down powers and funding from Government.”
The strategic alliance, which would include the four counties along with the cities of Derby, Leicester and Nottingham, the Local Enterprise Partnerships and Chambers of Commerce, would focus on transport, infrastructure, jobs and strategic planning.
This would ensure the East Midlands comes together to support the wider aims of the Midlands Engine and the Industrial Strategy as the country moves towards Brexit.