26-28 April, Interreg Annual Meeting, Malta:


AEBR was invited to take part at the Annual Meeting of Interreg Programmes in Malta, where 91 programmes of territorial cooperation were present. Very different issues were tackled, either in plenary sessions or in workshops: the need of better and understandable indicators, further simplification of procedures, better implementation of an integrated approach in functional territories, more place-based approach, identification of cross-border obstacles and possible solutions, etc. Another issue which was running across all debates is the possible reduction of the EU budget, and which consequences are to be expected for territorial cooperation.

The first Plenary Session dealt with the state-of-play of programmes implementation. Here the Open Data Platform was presented, where many information is available regarding the description of the programmes, the level of implementation, rating, thematic objectives, indicators generated by the programmes, performance, expenditure, etc. It was also insisted on the need to keep on probing, demonstrating and justifying decision-makers that this policy is very necessary. It was also informed that all programmes from the previous period have already sent their closing documents, but the reporting requirements seem to produce some difficulties. In this sense, regarding the new programmes, only one third of them have been designated until now. There were also several recommendations on the governance of the programmes: good cooperation needs big efforts, monitoring and sharing of good practices, transparency in decision-making, partnership, especially with non-governmental organizations, and the facilitation of project pre-financing.

The second session was devoted to feed the reflection on post-2020 Interreg. In this sense there is a strong effort to identify main obstacles, propose feasible solutions, assess the needs to be addressed by Interreg programmes, establishing some strategic guidelines for post-2020 territorial programmes, and make them more visible (Interreg should be more and wider communicated).

The second day was devoted to work in working groups (dealing with result-orientation, the role of macrorregional strategies, cooperation with non-EU countries, and territorial tools and structures for the post-2020 period). AEBR was present at the 4thWorking Group, on territorial tools and structures. It was interesting to see that there is only one case of a cross-border ITI (Integrated Territorial Investments) and another case of cross-border CLLD (Community-Led Local Development). There are no examples yet of JAP (Joint Action Plans), but many EGTCs and various SPF (Small Projects Funds). The CB IT is implemented at the Italian-Slovenian border by the EGTC GO, linked to a unique urban territory in need of a simple strategic view for the whole area, including a single CB natural park and joint health services, stressing a sole beneficiary (an only organisation with territorial competences in the whole area) and intermediate body (enhancing the territorial approach by a delegated part of the programme). The CB CLLD is at the Austrian-Italian border (EGTC Europaregion Tirol) and it has begun to be implemented after a long process. Now it is an umbrella initiative, with a multi-fund approach, promoting a CB identity, and stressing the participation of local actors through a functional vertical and horizontal partnership. In the afternoon of the second day, several study visits to projects were organized.

The third day took place the Closing Plenary, where the AEBR was invited to join the discussant panel together with Markku Markkula, President of the Committee of the Regions, Lena Andersson Pench, Director of Territorial Cooperation at DG Regio and Andreja Jerina, Slovenian National Coordinator for Macrorregional Strategies at state level. The outcomes of the four workshops were presented and discussed, highlighting the need to measure impact; to integrate public services and other policies across borders; a better complementarity, coordination, efficiency, sustainability and visibility; and the necessity to better tune territorial tools and structures to serve the needs of stakeholders and citizens. During the closing event, the President of the CoR stressed the need to keep on innovating, creating “regional innovation ecosystems” and to experiment more, in order to go safe from experimentation to implementation. Smart growth and specialization, generation of trust, and the need to better communicate to make more visible territorial cooperation was very present across the whole event.

More Information: http://ec.europa.eu/regional_policy/en/conferences/etc2017/ .

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