Final workshop to deliver a TIA methodology to observe CBC programmes in border regions:

And interview with Erik Hagen (Hedmark, Norway, SE-NO Interreg JTS)

 

On 12-14 March 2019 the participants in the project “TIA CBC - Territorial Impact Assessment for Cross-Border Cooperation” managed by ESPON met in Porto to organize latest tasks. Representatives of the five Interreg A programmes involved (DE/NL, SE/NO, RO/BG, UK/IE and ES/PT), officers and researchers from ESPON, DG Regio; AEBR and other partner and stakeholders shared the results and compared findings so far. The outcome will fuel the development of a step-by-step methodology describing how to determine the ex-post impact of CBC programmes on the territorial development of border regions, in a context of enormous variety of results, priorities and “uniquenesses”. A scalable matrix has been proposed to be applicable on all European territories. In the following news you can also read an interview with Erik Hagen from the Joint Secretariat of the Interreg A programme Sweden – Norway at the Hedmark County Council (NO). AEBR asked Mr Hagen about his experience with the pilot project “TIA  - CBC”.

From the 12th to the 14th March 2019 the participants in the project “TIA CBC - Territorial Impact Assessment for Cross-Border Cooperation” managed by ESPON met in Porto to finalise its last phase. Representatives of the five Interreg A programmes involved in the project (Germany – the Netherlands, Sweden – Norway, Romania – Bulgaria, United Kingdom – Ireland and Spain-Portugal) along with officers and researchers from the agencies and institutions which carried out the data analysis for the stakeholders, ESPON, DG Regio and AEBR shared the results and compared the findings collected so far. The outcome will nourish the development of a step-by-step methodology describing how to determine the ex-post impact of cross-border cooperation programmes on the territorial development of border regions.

In the course of the workshop, the great variety of results of the analysis became evident: different programmes have diverse priorities, and cross-border cooperation applies uniquely in each context. Yet, the variety detected in the test phase of the project will consequently be taken into consideration in the final development of the methodology: eventually, it helps create a scalable matrix which will be applicable on all European territories.

One of the stakeholders involved in the test phase of the project is Erik Hagen from the Joint Secretariat of the Interreg A programme Sweden – Norway at the Hedmark County Council. AEBR asked Mr Hagen about his experience with the pilot project “TIA  - CBC”.

AEBR: “Erik, the Programme Sweden – Norway has been amongst the 5 programmes participating in this initiative. Did the methodology developed help you to assess your Programme? Have you been able to draw new conclusions thanks to this tool?”

Erik: “It is definitely a strength to the methodology, that it includes a series of in-depth interviews with key stakeholders as well as thematic experts. This helps secure a genuine understanding among evaluators of the cross-border territory in question and its inherent issues and shortcomings which Interreg A programmes are intended to mitigate or even resolve. Frankly, our overall conclusion by participating in this ESPON project is that cross border cooperation in Europe is needed now more than ever. Cooperation, tailor made, is the way to handle small as well as big issues at this point of human development that history has taken us, with humans and states getting all the more interdependent, whether we like it or not.”

AEBR: “Do you think that the ESPON project “TIA - CBC” can help Interreg programmes gain support from local politicians?”

Erik: “Very much so! A quality made Territorial Impact Assessment will not just pinpoint problems which arise from a political and administrative border, it will also highlight the potential for development that lies, often unexposed, in cross-border cooperation. For our part, the TIA report shed light upon substantial gains from following a long term cross border development strategy, as the development of a rural yet highly competitive cross border ski and recreational arena, and the step-by-step establishment of what has become a mayor cross-border clean-tech innovation system. Proven, cost effective impacts like these should do their part to fend off potential accusations European regional policy won’t work.”

AEBR: “During the workshop finalising the project, many differences among the various actors involved rose. In your opinion, is it possible to offer a tool which can be used by all Interreg programmes?”

Erik: “Yes. As mentioned, a thorough understanding of each and every cross border territory examined, outlined from a triangulation of sources - namely literature, quantitative, and, before all, qualitative data gathered from a series of interviews -, lies at the heart of any Territorial Impact Assessment.”

The report will be delivered in the course of summer 2019 and AEBR welcomes very much this initiative which will help improve the internal coherence of the all  Interreg A programmes bringing CBC all over Europe. By seizing its impact on the territory, a common value for cross-border cooperation in Europe will emerge stronger.

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