We have asked Magdalena Voinea, the new Chair of the Interreg Europe monitoring committee, to share her thoughts on the first Romanian EU Council Presidency and the involvement of Romania in cooperation projects. You can also find a few tips she has for you about Romania.
How did the EU membership prepare you for chairing the EU Council Presidency?
"Romania’s accession to the EU in 2007 is a success story. The past 10 years brought modernisation, economic growth and a visible improvement in the lives of our citizens.
Since then, we have matured and our experiences prepared us for chairing the EU Council Presidency. As a National Authority for the European Territorial Cooperation (ETC) programme, we have built an institutional and legal framework that let our beneficiaries benefit from the EU membership in general and from the cohesion and ETC policies in particular."
What are the priorities of your presidency with respect to interregional cooperation?
"As you may know, our presidency’s motto is Cohesion, a common European value. The continuation of the European Cohesion Policy is essential for Romania. It will be at the centre of everything we do over the next six months.
Romania has greatly benefitted from ETC programmes so far. So our priority is to support the continuation of interregional cooperation programmes, especially those dedicated to capacity building and transfer of experience among all EU regions.
ETC is essential to the idea of cohesion, an element as important as competitiveness for the European paradigm. Interregional programmes such as Interreg Europe are vectors of European added value that help to achieve European Cohesion Policy goals."
How did the participation of Romanian partners in interregional cooperation projects develop over time?
"For Romania, interregional programmes such as Interreg Europe and Urbact represent a great opportunity. Since 2007, Romanian participation has steadily increased both in terms of application numbers and in terms of project quality.
The added value of interregional projects for Romanian beneficiaries is significant. INTERREG IVC, and now Interreg Europe projects, have produced great results. Especially, they improved the sustainability and innovation of investments in the public sector and contributed to an increased administrative capacity.
Interreg Europe projects often have a long-term impact on the way we think and how we programme local and regional investments. Cooperation helps us improve the design and implementation of investment strategies and operational programmes. But it takes time to reap the benefits of working in European partnerships.
The main goal of ETC is to encourage the exchange of experiences and ideas through projects and look for solutions to common problems of Europe's regions. Partners in interregional projects transform the idea of a united Europe into a daily reality of cooperation between actors of different nationalities with common goals."
Do you have one or two particular examples of successful projects in Romania?
"There are so many examples of quality projects. Romania is participating in 80 Interreg Europe projects and we have the 4th highest participation level in Europe.
I would like to mention two projects where Romania is the lead partner: NICHE - Adding value for the European Honey Value Chain, and VIOLET - Preserving traditional buildings through energy reduction. Both projects have original ideas and have concrete results for our citizens. They are also facilitating the linkage with national mainstream operational programmes that support the actions conceived in Interreg Europe projects."
What would be the message you’d like to share with our community members?
"I would like to send a message to the community members and to all European decision makers about the on-going negotiations on the architecture of ETC programmes for 2021-2027. We need strong cooperation among all Europeans, now more than ever!
In this complex European climate where we face so many social, economic and environmental challenges, the thematic coverage and the integrated nature of Interreg Europe are essential tools for local and regional actors dealing with similar difficulties. They would not be able to address them efficiently in the absence of interregional exchanges.
Interreg Europe is the programme with the most widespread territorial coverage in Europe. It offers the possibility for regions to exchange on a wide range of regional development topics. The interregional experiences provided through Interreg Europe are unforgettable and reveal the true nature of EU values and spirit."
On a general note, why should people from other countries spend a few days in Romania as tourists?
"The logo of the Romanian presidency – a mythological wolf that symbolises the Dacians, our ancestors from 2000 years ago – summarises the richness of our history and the biodiversity that awaits all who visit.
Romania is absolutely worth a visit! It offers a mixture of stirring history, breathtaking nature, charming medieval cities and castles and surprising architecture. From the Danube Delta to the Carpathian Mountains, our country offers raw natural beauty sprinkled with agro-tourism islands, where tourists can get a taste of Romanian hospitality, tradition and a genuine gastronomic experience."
Thank you, Magdalena. And good luck!
You can discover more about Romania in Interreg Europe at the following page.