More than 6000 participants attended the 16th edition of European Week of Regions and Cities (EWRC) that took place from 8 till 11 October 2018 in Brussels. With the motto 'For a strong EU Cohesion Policy beyond 2020', the EWRC provided a platform for exchanging views of European regions and cities on both the budget and the legislative proposals related to Cohesion Policy and rural development, as well as for discussing the future of Europe from a regional and local perspective. Over 140 regions and cities across Europe contributed to the discussions on finding solutions to present challenges.

These challenges were addressed already during the opening session that also outlined the main topics of the 2018 EU Regions Week: youth, cities, regions and cohesion. As outlined by the European Commission, with a budget of 373 billion EUR in commitments for 2021-2027, the future Cohesion Policy will play an important role in bridging the gaps between and within EU countries and regions.

During the second day of the EWRC, the President of the European Committee of the Regions (CoR), Karl-Heinz Lambertz presented the "State of the European Union: the View of its Regions and Cities", clearly stressing the necessity and value of directly involving local and regional levels in the decision-making processes of the European Union. “We have to see Europe in 3D”. Another highlight of the second day was the RegioStars ceremony when the European Commission rewarded the most innovative and inspiring projects financed under Cohesion Policy. The selection was made according to five categories:

Category 1: Supporting smart industrial transition

Category 2: Transition towards a sustainable, low-carbon economy

  • TeKiDe - textile fibre recycling, a project that makes new textiles from cotton waste in Helsinki-Uusimaa, Finland, as part of a bio and circular economy hub attracting investment to the region;

Category 3: Better access to public services

Category 4: Addressing the migration challenge

Category 5: Investing in cultural heritage

  • Nant Gwrtheyrn, an abandoned mining village on the north west Wales coast which has been restored to become a cultural centre. 

Protection of natural and cultural heritage were also among the topics addressed during the EWRC. For example, a session on EU level Green Infrastructure and Ecosystem Services in the decision-making process was organised presenting two upcoming Commission guidance documents: 1/ Strategic EU level green and blue infrastructure, and 2/ Integrating ecosystems and their services into decision-making. The session also showcased examples of EU level green infrastructure and a flexible tool to assist decision-makers from policy, business and society in the mapping and assessment of ecosystems and their services. Several sessions focused on cultural heritage as a resource and common good, such as the session on the role and the challenges of cultural heritage in the EU of tomorrow.

In addition, the #EURegionsWeek was an opportunity to learn more about Interreg Europe projects working together to improve policies related to cultural heritage. A session on Culture and heritage for responsible, innovative and sustainable tourism activities was organised by CHRISTA project, while Cult-RInG partners delivered a session on Cultural Routes as investment for growth and jobs. Sustainability and cultural heritage was the main topic of the session organised by SHARE project.

Finally, interregional learning for the benefit of our environment and resource efficiency was facilitated by the team of the Interreg Europe Policy Learning Platform. Specifically, the Platform organised a three-day matchmaking event for managing authorities (MAs). The goal was to offer a personalised matchmaking service, thematic expert support, and learning opportunities to MAs who have not yet benefited from interregional cooperation projects. Two matchmaking sessions were organised as part of the environment and resource efficiency thematic area. The first session was focused on cultural tourism and innovative technologies and brought together representatives of a managing authority from Greece and peers from CHRISTA and SHARE projects. The purpose of the second matchmaking session was to discuss policy challenges of the French Region Provence Alpes Cote d'Azur with regards to regional transitions to circular economy with focus on Corporate Social Responsibility. Representative of the French region and peers from Interreg Europe RETRACE and INTHERWASTE shared their views and experiences during this session. Following the matchmaking event, the Policy learning platform organised a participatory workshop demonstrating Policy Learning Platform services and highlights from the matchmaking programme.

The #EURegionsWeek 2018 was officially closed on Thursday (11th October) afternoon.