Major Cross-Border Conference Explores the Impact of EU Funding ahead of European Cooperation Day
Emma Doran, Ireland Wales Programme, John McEntee, Business Development Manager, Walkways, Breda Curran, Ireland Wales Programme, Des Henry, Employment & Enterprise Coordinator, Walkways.
Celebrating European Cooperation
A cross-border conference designed to highlight the positive impact that EU funded projects are having across the region took place yesterday in the Crowne Plaza hotel, Dundalk ahead of the official ‘European Cooperation Day’ on the 21st September.
The conference forms part of more than 160 different local events that are taking place across Europe to celebrate the achievements of cooperation between European regions and countries. Collectively these events form part of the “Sharing Borders, Growing Closer” campaign which aims to illustrate the importance of cross-border work for the benefit of all EU citizens.
Since the beginning of the 1990s, more than 20,000 projects, co-funded by the EU, have contributed to improving the lives of European citizens across borders, from creating jobs to protecting the environment, to improving health care services, transport and energy.
EU Commissioner for Regional Policy, Johannes Hahn, has shown his support for ‘European Cooperation Day’ and will be participating in the celebrations. “This will be a great opportunity to recognise how territorial cooperation helps to bring Europeans closer together, share ideas across borders and solve common problems,” commented Commissioner Hahn. “I’m very impressed that so many European Territorial Cooperation programmes, and external cooperation programmes, have decided to participate in European Cooperation Day.”
The all-Island conference has been coordinated by the Special EU Programmes Body, in partnership with the Southern & Eastern Regional Assembly and the BMW Regional Assembly.
Commenting on the significance of the event Shaun Henry, Director of Managing Authority within the Special EU Programmes Body, said: “As a region we are very successful in securing high levels of European Union funding for a diverse range of projects that are delivering tangible impacts for citizens in the areas of health, enterprise, communications and environmental protection, amongst others. The region is also benefiting from the creation of strong working relationships with partners across Europe to develop new and innovative ways of tackling common problems.”
The conference featured case studies from a diverse range of projects supported under Europe’s INTERREG IVA, IVB and IVC Programmes and reflected the core themes of the EU’s ‘2020 strategy’, which is promoting smart, sustainable and inclusive growth for a more prosperous Europe.
Project presentations included the INTERREG IVA supported ‘Innovation for Competitive Enterprises’ (ICE) initiative which helps small to medium sized businesses create new products and services, as well as develop enhanced working practices.
Other projects include the INTERREG IVC supported B-team project. Designed to provide policy support for the development of brownfield sites the project works with partners based in Spain, Germany, Finland and Denmark, amongst others.
Speaking at the event Gerry Finn, Director of the BMW Regional Assembly, said: “INTERREG Programmes have been one of the successes of EU Funding in Ireland. They have led to significant co-operation both at a cross border and wider European level. Today we have heard a number of successful projects demonstrating practical cooperation. I am confident that we can build upon this success in the new programme period.”
Commenting on the success of the conference, Stephen Blair, Director with the Southern & Eastern Regional Assembly, said: “Working together across borders, whether land or sea, has become firmly embedded throughout the island of Ireland, and we have heard today from many project partners how these EU co-financed projects are making real differences to local communities. It is timely, as we approach the end of the third seven-year programming cycle, to take stock of what has been achieved, and to apply this learning to the design of the next generation of INTERREG Programmes which will kick-off in 2014. Today’s conference has given us much food for thought.”
Over 130 delegates attended the conference and were given the opportunity to take a tour of an interactive exhibition made up of 13 different projects supported with EU assistance. These projects included the North West Europe Programmed funded ‘Floodresiliencity’ initiative, which is designed to make cities undergoing major urban development more resilient to flood water.
Other exhibitors included the Walkways project, which is funded under the INTERREG Ireland/Wales Programme and is helping to create pathways to employment for people with intellectual disabilities. Full details on the conference are available at www.seregassembly.ie or www.seupb.eu
For more information please contact Derville Brennan, Research & Communications Officer with the S&E Regional Assembly, mobile no. + 353 87 7793755 email: email@example.com
Notes to the Editor:
· Projects supported by the following European Territorial Programmes were in attendance at the conference.
o INTERREG IVA (2007-2013)
o Ireland/Wales Programme (2007-2013)
o INTERREG IVC Programme (2007-2013)
o The Northern Periphery Programme (2007-2013)
o The North West Europe Programme (2007-2013)
o The Atlantic Area Programme (2007-2013)
o PEACE III Programme (2007-2013)
Walkways is aimed at increasing the rate of employment of people with intellectual disabilities by providing chronologically appropriate employability interventions i.e. creating pathways to employment.
· The Southern & Eastern & the BMW Regional Assemblies were established in 1999 following the designation of two regions in Ireland for EU Structural Funds purposes. The Assemblies were the Managing Authority for the 2000-2006 Regional Operational Programmes and currently they manage the 2007-2013 Regional Operational Programmes. The S&E Regional Assembly manages the Ireland/Wales Interreg programme 2007-2013. The Assembly is involved in the management, project selection and monitoring of a number of EU co-financed INTERREG Programmes and engages with Government on a wide range of policy issues affecting regional development in Ireland.
· The Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB) is a North/South Implementation Body sponsored by the Department of Finance and Personnel in Northern Ireland and the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform in Ireland.
· It is responsible for managing two EU structural funds Programmes PEACE III and INTERREG IVA designed to enhance cross-border co-operation, promote reconciliation and create a more peaceful and prosperous society.
· The programmes operate within a clearly defined area including Northern Ireland, the Border Region of Ireland and in the case of INTERREG IVA, Western Scotland. For more information on the SEUPB please visit www.seupb.eu
· The European Cooperation Day campaign is coordinated by the INTERACT Programme in association with the European Commission, and supported by the Committee of the Regions and the European Parliament.
· For further information and a detailed list of local events and examples of cooperation projects, visit www.ecday.eu. You can also like us on Facebook (facebook.com/cooperationday) and follow us on Twitter (@cooperationday/#ecday)!
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