In April 2018, a group of 19 Interreg Europe projects finalised phase 1 of their cooperation. After two years working together, visiting each other, discovering good practices and exchanging with their local stakeholders, the time came for each region to finalise its action plans.
We are excited that phase 2 has already started for these projects and together we will be regularly checking to which extent the measures described in the plans are implemented on the ground, evaluating the results and gathering evidence of success to demonstrate the added value of interregional cooperation.
The analysis of the actions plans is an important moment for the programme since it provides an insight into the outcomes of the learning process and paves the way for phase 2. Based on this first experience, we also would like to share below the four tips which may be of interest to all the other projects still working in phase 1:
1. Adapt the programme template to your own context
A template for the action plan is provided in Annex 1 of the programme manual. Please make sure it is adapted to your project and partners. The annex of the manual cannot be simply copied. It should be clear from the design of each action plan which project and which partner organisation are concerned (e.g. through the project logo and organisation logo or letterhead). In order to facilitate the dissemination and capitalisation of this core deliverable, we also recommend to have a version in English. In case the action plan is written in a national language, please make sure a comprehensive summary in English is available.
2. Make sure the minimum information is provided
The action plan does not need to be a long document but, as reflected in the programme template, a minimum of information is needed for each action (i.e. background and link to the project, activities, stakeholders involved, timeframe, costs and funding sources). The document can also include a very limited number of actions as long as these actions are clear and relevant. It is also important to specify whether the action plan is endorsed by the relevant policy responsible organisation(s).
3. Make a clear link with the project
It may sound obvious but you should describe how each action is linked to the project and in particular how it derives from the interregional learning process. For instance, which good practice from one of the partner regions or which learning from a project activity inspired the action? This is the idea behind the first point of the template called ‘The background’. If an action cannot be related to the activities of the project, then it should not be included in the action plan.
4. Ensure each action is precisely defined and relevant
The actions to be implemented represent the backbone of any action plan and are the basis for phase 2 monitoring. It is therefore crucial that these actions are clearly defined. Moreover, the action plan defines how the learning will be transformed into actions. You therefore need to ensure that the actions described are clearly related to implementation activities. A continuation of the learning is no longer possible in phase 2.
If you look for inspiration, you can check the action plans from projects like ERUDITE, NICHE, iEER or CLUSTERS3. We may also organise at the beginning of next year a webinar to showcase the first lessons learned and challenges encountered in finalising these plans. So stay tuned!