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INTERREG EUROPE, EU Public Consultation – Stakeholders Workshop
5 February 2014, Brussels, Belgium


The workshop was organized by INTERREG IVC Joint Technical Secretariat (JTS) team, in the framework of the EU-wide public consultation launched by the INTERREG IVC JTS on the operational programme of INTERREG EUROPE for 2014-2020. The workshop started with a plenary session to present the draft cooperation programme, the programme’s actions and challenges, and the online questionnaire for the public consultation. The plenary was followed by a Q&A session. Finally, parallel discussions in small groups were organized to discuss about what interregional cooperation can bring to the European Structural and Investments (ESI) funds and how to mobilise ESIF players in INTERREG EUROPE.

Participants included pan-European organisations and networks of EU relevance and/or of thematic relevance for the four priority axes of the programme, EU institutions and organisations, selected Brussels-based representatives of regional offices.

Proceedings of the workshop, including presentations and videos, are available here

Main findings:

Short background: The INTERREG IVC programme successor, called INTERREG EUROPE, is currently being shaped. Its objective is to help European regional authorities to design and implement regional policies and programmes more effectively, in particular the ESI funds programmes for investment in growth and jobs but also, when relevant, under the European Territorial Cooperation (ETC) goal. The programme aims to do so through enabling exchange of experience, knowledge and good practices among relevant stakeholders form different European Regions (see more on).

Findings: The main interesting finding is that the future INTERREG IVC (INTERREG EUROPE) programme is more and more taking the shape of a network as to accompany, support and improve EU cohesion policy. For the first time, the 2014-2020 regulations put forward a clear focus for ETC which is “improving the performance of policy through the Operational Programmes”. A public consultation has been launched in order to support a Programme Committee (made of representatives from the EU 28, Norway, Switzerland, ECoR and JTS) for shaping the objectives, thematic focus and implementation of the future INTERREG programme. INTERREG EUROPE will cover 28 Members States and 280 regions. Within the Cohesion Policy, INTERREG is expected to: improve effectiveness of the policy, promote the exchange of experiences, capitalise on them and translate the results into growth and job. It is also expected to learn from current experiences of EU cluster support activities. In this respect the proximity with current rural development networks is self-evident. Moreover, the aspects of “capitalisation”, transfer of lessons, involvement of stakeholders, the focus on the added-value of cooperation in terms of mobilising mainstream funds were mentioned as crucial.

INTERREG will operate under an overall objective – improve the policy – predicated in the 2 operational objectives of “capitalisation” and “exchanges”. With this framework 4 thematic objectives have been identified namely: research and development, small and medium enterprises, lower carbon economy, and environment and resource efficiency.

Crucially, two main actions are envisaged in support to this strategy:

  1. Interregional cooperation projects, and
  2. Policy learning platforms (PLP).

The two tools are supposed to support each other in promoting and reinforcing the exchange of experience and the learning process from them. Particularly the PLP are seen as “networks” which should encourage policy learning across EU, supported by online collaborative tools and a series of activities such as monitoring of projects, analyses, etc. It is expected to have a PLP for each of the 4 thematic objectives, each of them supported by an “animation unit”. Even if it was mentioned that this kind of approach looks at existing experiences such as the S3 platform (run by JRC) it seems that the paradigm proposed and the specific activities very much align with the current and future scope and tools of the ENRD.

Key questions were addressed in the plenary and group discussion such as: How to implement the Platforms? With which resources (experts, language coverage)? Where these should be based? What’s the usefulness for the stakeholders? What are the linkages with the INTERACT network?

In this respect, the ENRD – and the current rural development networks experience – can clearly indicate the way forward for as well as an efficient and effective setting-up and run of such platforms, accelerating the learning curve and eventually pave the way for future coordination/collaboration among policies networks.