In early July, all Interreg Europe projects in the North of the Netherlands convened in a meeting initiated by the Management Authority of ERDF for the region, the League of the Northern Netherlands. Projects from all calls were present, and indeed all of the projects were. We were also joined by the national contact point for Interreg, Machtelijn Brummel of RVO.
Purpose of the meeting
The meeting served multiple purposes, namely networking between the Interreg Europe projects, discussing progress on Regional Action Plans and also gathering input for development for the new RIS3 strategy, just like at the SmartUp! event in September 2018 in Emmen. And last but not least, Machtelijn provided us with the latest news from the Steering Committee and the latest insights on the position of the Member States in the development of the new programming period for the Structural Funds.
Meeting other Interreg projects
The name already states it: Interreg projects are for inter-regional cooperation. Nevertheless, it is nice to have intra-regional cooperation too. It did not take long before new acquaintances were named and old ones renewed. It was great to exchange experiences on the transnational visits, to explain to other what projects involved and of course the challenges of the tiered system of reporting! It is safe to say that all participants learnt something new and that it increased practical knowledge for all projects.
Progress on Regional Action Plans
Because projects from all calls were present, they are all also in different stages of developing their Regional Action Plans (RAP). A few projects, such as BeyondEDP and OSIRIS already had they RAP accepted, whereas other projects were completely at the beginning and were still busy learning about the instrument itself.
With RELOS3 nearing the completion of the RAP, there was a good exchange of viewpoints with other participants of the meeting. Also, the focus on a down-to-earth sector as Tourism/Leisure as one of the lessons learnt from the transnational meetings was seen as an idea with a lot of potential, as evidenced by the process of gathering input for the RIS3 strategy.
Input for new RIS3 strategy
Using big sheets, input was collected on the core values of the Northern Netherlands, and a hybrid PEST/SWOT analysis used to drill down into more specific problems, although the P-part of the PEST-analysis was considered not relevant.
The discussions that ensued provided for a lot of insights that are really difficult to come by in an individual project, even if you work with several people on it. It was not possible to exchange all the input in a plenary session, but the report from this meeting will be circulated among participants and possibly also published here.
Latest news of National Contact Point
From Machtelijn we learnt about the impact of the current Interreg Europe programme, and we also hear that relative to other parts of the country, the Interreg Europe programme is very popular, with no less than 18 projects influencing OP Noord, the Operational Programme that the League of the Northern Netherlands manages.
She also mentioned the latest developments from the on-going discussions between member states, the European Commission and the individual Interreg programmes, and it was very enlightening to hear about this process.
Events like this are a great way to learn from other projects. It is an informal manner of peer review, and an opportunity to gain the latest insights on a wide range of topics that are relevant to any Interreg Europe project, such as the transnational learning process, the development of Regional Action Plans and so on. It is great that our Management Authority organises such sessions and it would be perfect if another one will be organised in the Autumn.