Interreg Annual Meeting 2019 in Bucharest:


AEBR, together with 6 IVY volunteers, attended the Interreg Annual Meeting 2019 hosted by the Romanian Presidency in Bucharest on 22 and 23 May 2019. DG Regio and representatives of all Interreg, IPA-CBC and ENI-CBC programmes gathered together to discuss the future programming period 2021-2027. For two days, actors involved in cooperation had the chance to stay informed on opportunities, learn about new aspects of ETC and debate. 

In the first session, Marc Lemaitre, Director-General at DG Regio, and Lena Andersson Pench, Director of the unit dealing with European Territorial Cooperation, Macro-regions, Interreg and Programmes Implementation, explained the logic of the Commission underpinning the proposal for the next programming period. For future Cohesion Policy and Interreg, DG Regio intends to update the architecture of Interreg: there is an urgent need to remove the many overlaps that currently exist in the management of Interreg programmes which cause bad coordination among actors and redundances. To improve this situation, DG Regio wants to increase efficiency and simplify the procedures within Interreg. To this end, it is necessary to integrate programmes covering the same geographical and thematic areas so to enhance synergies in the broader context and avoid duplicating efforts.

With this regard, DG Regio is increasingly working together with other DGs to make cooperation an embedded value of the EU and include it in mainstream policies, too.

Pascal Boijmans, Head of Unit, Interreg, Cross-Border Cooperation, Internal Borders, offered an insight on the state of play of the regulation. Innovation is also regarded as a priority in the next programming period: instruments like the “Interregional innovation investments” should be utilised more. To achieve convergence in economic and social terms, accessibility to innovation is crucial to enhance development in all regions. Similarly, inventive tools like the European Cross-Border Mechanism (ECBM) should also be considered by the stakeholders, as this could be highly beneficial to foster cooperation.

The next programming period will focus strongly on the objective of improving cooperation: solving obstacles to cross-border cooperation will be integrated in the action of Interreg Programmes. As a consequence, Managing Authorities and Joint Secretariats will be asked to make efforts to solve problems of CBC.

Three aspects should be regarded when planning the strategy for the programmes: Interreg programmes should improve cooperation’s possibilities; consider elements also outside of the programme’s area; and integrate other funding programmes to enhance coherence.

The next programming period will also witness the inclusion of IPA-CBC and ENI-CBC programmes under the management of DG Regio. This choice was made to ensure simplification in the procedure, being DG Regio a hub for cross-border cooperation and having created a common expertise in this field which applies to external borders, too. As a matter of fact, the intervention logic will be the same. In this light, overlaps can be avoided and best practices can be used as a model within and outside of the EU. Notably, cooperation builds trust thanks to people-to-people actions and by promoting sustainable democracy and support for civil society. Precisely these elements also allow and promote collaboration with external actors.

A further aspect which is increasing in importance in the next programming period is communication and capitalisation, which will indeed be embedded in the planning of Interreg programmes. More effort needs to be made in giving visibility to the many achievements which are reached thanks to Interreg.

After the parliament’s decision on the proposal, now the trialogue will start in June: the debate on the proposed regulation for the Multiannual Financial Framework is still ongoing.

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