European Week of Regions and Cities
7-10 OCTOBER 2019 Brussels

How can regional cooperation help maximise blue growth opportunities?

As Europe begins preparations for its new multiannual financial framework (MFF) and a renewed, strengthened cohesion policy, the "Smart partnerships for blue growth" workshop identifies the common maritime challenges facing Europe and how Europe's regions can solve those challenges together. Leading politicians and experts from different regions on the North Sea, English Channel and Baltic Sea will come together to share best practices and promote common solutions.

Maritime affairs
Smart partnerships for blue growth

Session summary

The workshop was organised by a ‘Smart Partnership’ of five regional offices - from the UK, France, Norway and Poland - around a theme of ‘Blue Growth’ which spanned the gap between local projects and policy at the macro-regional level. The workshop took place at the Mission of Norway to the EU in Brussels.

Speakers from each region presented on the following topics:

  • Alliance Manche / Channel Alliance (Région Normandie)
  • Role of maritime cross-border cooperation platforms in the future EU Cohesion Policy (Warmia-Mazury)
  • Smartfish H2020 - Innovation for Sustainable Fisheries (Mid-Norway)
  • How can international cooperation maximise the potential for hydrogen in Europe? (West Norway)

Mr Didier Peralta, a Regional Councillor in the Normandy Region of France opened the event with a presentation on the Channel Alliance (Alliance Manche) policy of cooperation between British and French regions in the Channel Area. He explained that the cooperation goes beyond the political level and encompasses a mechanism for initiating joint projects, as demonstrated by the ‘Dieppe-New Haven’ sea route project funded by the France (Channel) England Interreg programme. Mr Peralta underlined that this cooperation is intended to continue post-Brexit.

Mr Sebastian Magier, the Head of Secretariat of the Euroregion Baltic Platform, presented the macro-regional policy of the Euroregion Baltic (ERB) as the largest in the EU and the first to include a Russian region (Kaliningrad). He laid out the objectives of the policy as providing added value in the areas of blue and green growth as well as providing a platform for projects to network, initiate and reinforce their cooperation. Finally Mr Magier explained that challenges remain for the ERB, including a lack of cross-border waste management and persistent language barriers between institutions.

Hanne Digre, Research Director at SINTEF Ocean, presented the SMARTFISH project, funded through the Horizon 2020 Framework Programme. Ms Digre explained that the project is to develop ‘smart fisheries technologies’ in order to improve the efficiency of the fishing sector, thus supporting the sector to be more environmentally-friendly as well as improving compliance with relevant legislation. The project started in January 2018 and involves 18 partners from six different countries (Norway, Denmark, the UK, Spain and France) and is worth €6 million over four years.

Tale Halsør, Special adviser in Section for climate and natural resources at Hordaland County Council, laid out the importance of hydrogen power across the region of West Norway, not least as there are many journeys made by ferry across the region’s fjords every day. She explained how Hordaland County Council have initiated several initiatives to encourage cooperative working between public authorities and the private sector to try and decarbonise the ferry sector, for example through a project to develop an electric ferry.

Take away message

Inter-regional collaboration can create new markets and support the supply of new innovation to overcome barriers to either new market entrants or the creation of new market niches for goods and services in the blue economy. Political cooperation is equally important as exemplified by work undertaken by the Channel Alliance of French and British regions around the Channel area. This cooperation is envisaged beyond Brexit given the importance of the projects and collaboration work proposed so far.

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