CoR conference in Croatia: a vision for the future of cooperation!

May 2024

CoR conference in Croatia: a vision for the future of cooperation!

To influence the debate on the future of EU policies after 2027, the European Committee of the Regions (CoR) organized a conference on May 14th in Croatia, in cooperation with the INTERACT program, to draw the attention of decision-makers to the new challenges facing regions and cities, and to discuss the role of European Territorial Cooperation (ETC) in helping to meet these challenges.

Interreg programs, which play a particularly important role in the development of cross-border regions, were the subject of a round-table discussion moderated by Martin Guillermo, AEBR Secretary General, featuring Stella Arneri, Director at the Ministry of Regional Development and EU Funds of the Republic of Croatia, Slawomir Tokarski, Director of DG REGIO, Pavel Branda, CoR member (Czech Republic) and Andres Jaadla, CoR member (Estonia). The speakers emphasized that one of Interreg's greatest successes is the solidarity and trust it has built across borders: “while obstacles to cooperation may be bureaucratic and administrative in nature, they also stem from a lack of recognition of the benefits and of a long-term vision”.

For Andres Jaadla, “security remains a central issue for the future of Interreg, especially in the East”. Local cross-border development and bringing border populations closer together must continue to be at the heart of Interreg's actions. The idea of enabling cross-border areas to test solutions that allow for a margin of error, while benefiting from Interreg support, was raised as an innovative avenue for the future. Speakers also stressed that the simplification of procedures, which remains an important need, should not involve a total reinvention of the system that would force players to constantly adapt, but rather the identification and implementation of adjustments where they are most needed. As Pavel Branda points out, “Interreg is a means to an end, not an end in itself. There is still work to be done, in a complex and tense context, to promote border cooperation and the programs that support it”.

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