Interregional cooperation for Cohesion policy
The overall aim of the workshop on Interregional organisations – a platform for regional development strengthening “was the exchange of experience between interregional organisations, strengthening of partnership networks and improvement of liaisons with EU institutions in charge of regional policy. The event was designed for interregional organisations to present their work to the public at the European level.
The event was organised by the Alps-Adriatic Alliance, chaired by Varazdin County (CRO) and hosted by Croatian MEP, Ivan Jakovic. The Alliance, as one of the oldest interregional organisations, is a respectful organisation, a well-known trademark among citizens. On the occasion of 40 years of cooperation in the Alps-Adriatic area, the Alliance wanted to exchange experiences with other similar organisations, political representatives, decision-makers, experts and EU institutions.
During the workshop, eight European regions: Burgenland (AT), Vas (HU), Medjimurje County, Koprivnica-Krizevci County, Primorje-Gorski kotar County, Varazdin County (CRO), Valle d’Aosta (IT) and Podravje region (SLO), together with three organisations – Assembly of European Regions, Alps-Adriatic Alliance, Alps-Adriatic Euroregion had an opportunity to present their work, activities and projects, as well as to share knowledge and experiences on cooperation between interregional organizations and regions.
The workshop’s agenda included a keynote from MEP, Mr Jakovcic, and the chair of the Alps-Adriatic Alliance, Mr. Cacic, which was followed by presentations of work and experiences of three organisations, which were presented by Thomas Pseiner (Secretary General of the Alps-Adriatic Alliance), Mathieu Mori (Secretary General of the Assembly of European Regions) and Stefania Fortunato (European Public Affairs Director, Regione Autonoma Valle d'Aosta). In the final part of the workshop, representatives from different regions, members of interregional organisations, shared their perspectives on membership in interregional organisations: Radimir Cacic – Varazdin County prefect, Barbara Eibinger-Miedl – Minister in the Styrian Regional Government, CoR member, Christian Illedits – Member of the Burgenland Regional Parliament, CoR member, Herwig Seiser- Member of the Carinthian Regional Assembly,deputy Cor member, Jasna Petek – deputy prefect of Krapina-Zagorje County, Matija Posavec – prefect of Medjimurje County, Ratimir Ljubic – deputy prefect of Koprivnica-Krizevci County, Laszlo Majtheny – president of Vas regional council, CoR member.
The conclusion of the workshop was that interregional organisations require the attention of European institutions and a very concrete output will be a manifesto “Strong regions - strong Europe”, created by Mr Jakovcic, which was unanimously supported by all the representatives present. The intention is to prepare the manifesto and talk to the European Commission, requiring operational grants in the future Cohesion policy which would help organisations in their functioning and implementation of EU projects, which again must be a generator of their development. The manifesto will be sent to all interested organisations which would want to support this incentive.
Take away message
Europe, states, regions and local units must act unanimously for the benefit of the citizens they represent. The added value of networking through interregional organisations is the creation and implementation of EU projects. In order to enable these organisations to function normally and concentrate on EU funds, regions suggest that the European Commission develop a special operation grant which would enable their functioning and implementation of EU projects, through which many challenges faced by regions can be solved.
"Interregional organisations have helped us in networking and development of projects. I fully support the idea of a manifesto which will be signed by different interregional organisations and presented to Commissioner Crețu".
"Through membership in interregional organisations, Koprivnica-Krizevci has access to easier financing of projects and exchange of experience with other regions".
"The regions and entities of the Alps-Adriatic area started their cooperation in a period when Europe was still ideologically divided and when institutions such as the Committee of the Regions did not exist. Interregional organisations know and understand the needs of project beneficiaries and are their voice towards European institutions"
"Interregional cross-border projects contribute considerably to regions. They deepen diplomatic relations at national, international and regional level and that is the point of a citizen-close policy. With the help of cross-border projects a convergence in prosperity of neighbouring regions can be achieved, with the preservation of independency and cultural identity."
"The basic message is that Europe, states, regions and local units must act together. In order to be able to develop this added value of networking, we must have stability in financing our projects. All interregional organisations present today have expressed support for the Mr Jakovcic's initiative."
"Regions play a key role, because most of the use of EU funds is through the work of development agencies, counties, cities and municipalities. That is why the regional level is the generator of ideas, writing projects and responding to tenders. It is important to use membership in interregional organisations"
„Cooperation through cross-border programmes can lead to great infrastructural projects. Thanks to the membership in the Alps-Adriatic Alliance, regions from young member states did not feel the Iron Curtain as other regions in the East. We have learnt a lot through this interregional initiative.“