The new European Territorial Cooperation Programmes of the Programming Period 2014-2020 that the Managing Authority is responsible for are in their final phase of drafting. In their core is the Europe 2020 Strategy, which is Europe’s blueprint for a smart, sustainable and inclusive growth. In the near future all instruments, as well as policy goals, will have been set: now we need to deliver.
It is essential that a more results-oriented regional policy is timely and effectively implemented to substantially increase its impact on growth and jobs creation. In a time of crisis, European support for local development projects is absolutely essential not only for restoring growth and employment but also for preserving social and territorial cohesion.
The ETC Programmes must be implemented in a partnership among national authorities and regions, which are the actors who can close the ‘delivery’ gap. We need to work in partnership, and develop a culture of ‘multi-level’ and ‘multi-actor’ governance in Europe. Therefore, sound mechanisms need to be put in place to enable timely and structural cooperation. We need to think outside the box and generate new alliances between regions and cities. Translating the five Europe 2020 headline objectives, in order to take account of the territorial specificities of our regions, it will require clear governance, monitoring and evaluation structures, fresh funding and a sound communication strategy. Moreover, to achieve efficient delivery on the ground, synergies with mainstream and regional Programmes represent an opportunity that should be seized by every single country and region.
Head of the Managing Authority
The “1st European Territorial Cooperation Conference: Promoting Best Practices-Sharing Experiences” was organized with great success on May, 8th-9th 2014 in Thessaloniki by the Managing Authority of European Territorial Cooperation Programmes, under the Greek Presidency of the Council of the EU. More than 450 participants shared their experiences in implementing ETC Projects and Programmes and their views on capitalising existing experiences and lessons learnt and on the efforts needed, in order to transform individual and institutional experience and knowledge into capital that can be used in future.
In total 17 projects implemented under the ETC Programmes Greece-Bulgaria, Greece-Cyprus, Greece-Italy, Greece-Albania, Greece-The former Yugoslav Republic Macedonia, MED, South East Europe, Adriatic, Black Sea Basin and INTERREG IV C were presented,. These projects had been previously selected by an independent committee, comprised by representatives of the MA, the Hellenic Ministry of Development & Competitiveness and the INTERACT Programme, after a competitive procedure in the fields of "Culture – Tourism – Local Quality Products", "Innovation & Entrepreneurship", "Public Health – Social Inclusion", "Environment Management – Climate Change", "Trans-European Networking" and "Institutional Partnerships & Project Management".
The introductory speech was given by the Secretary General for Public Investments Mr. George Yannoussis, who highlighted that “the shift from the original compensation nature of the regional policy to one that promotes growth, competitiveness, innovation and the knowledge economy will manifest itself in the spectrum of supported Projects, which will demand more effective use of resources and more visible results in the future Programming Period”.
The Head of the Managing Authority Mr. George Emmanuel added that “we share the same European values and spirit of equality, cooperation and justice in the wider area of South Europe, Balkan and Mediterranean and we have committed ourselves to the European targets of the EU 2020 strategy, as well as to the bottom up formulated targets, stemming from the local societies’ and regions’ willingness to cooperate peacefully promoting the sustainable development for more and better growth and jobs creation in their territory”.
However, Mr. David Sweet, representing the European Commission (DG REGIO), mentioned that “the social economic impact of ETC should be enhanced”, as “cooperation is good but it is not an objective”. “Things as they are now in ETC are not sustainable anymore. Therefore, coherent programming, clear links to mainstream Programmes and focus on results are the key to the successful future of ETC”, he concluded.
Ms. Amparo Montan of the INTERACT Programme, on her behalf, chose to highlight the role of effective communication in promoting ETC’s tangible results. “Communication and capitalisation are the key to evolve ETC. However, it is necessary to have sufficient information in order to have effective capitalisation. There are good results of ETC which can be transferred to the general public with proper communication”, she said.
In any case, the bulk of the 1st day of the conference was dedicated to the presentation of the Best Practices by the Lead Partners of each project, a session that drew the most attention and instigated a very fruitful discussion on what turns a simple project into a best practice and on what capitalisation opportunities lay ahead for all projects and Programmes.
The 2nd day was dedicated in the future Programming Period 2014-2020 with Mr. Nasos Sofos from DG REGIO presenting the Adriatic-Ionian macro-regional strategy. “The new ETC Programmes in the eastern Mediterranean should align with the priorities of the Adriatic-Ionian strategy, a strategy that will not have funds, but which should attract funds”, he mentioned. His speech was complemented by that of Mr. Vassilios Tselios, representing the Hellenic Ministry of Foreign Affairs, who presented the governance system of the EU macro‐regional strategies.
Mr. Giannis Firbas from the Hellenic Ministry of Development & Competitiveness, on the other hand, presented the mainstream and regional Programmes implemented in Greece and mentioned that “synergies between mainstream Programmes and European Territorial Cooperation and the macro-regional strategies are crucial for success”.
The conference ended with a very interesting round table on capitalisation with the participation of representatives from Greece, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Albania, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and the European Commission. The main message was that “capitalisation is not easy but is more than needed”, while “the key for effective capitalisation in ETC id defining what is a good result”. “Harmonizing Programmes could lead to more concrete and tangible results” was the conclusion of the 2-day conference.