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Cultural Variety in Europe Amsterdam 23 November 2007 Reflections on INTERREG III and INTERREG IV Dr Elisabeth HELANDER Director of Resources Åbo Akademi.

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Presentation on theme: "Cultural Variety in Europe Amsterdam 23 November 2007 Reflections on INTERREG III and INTERREG IV Dr Elisabeth HELANDER Director of Resources Åbo Akademi."— Presentation transcript:

1 Cultural Variety in Europe Amsterdam 23 November 2007 Reflections on INTERREG III and INTERREG IV Dr Elisabeth HELANDER Director of Resources Åbo Akademi University, Finland former Director for INTERREG, Urban Affairs (incl. URBACT) and Outermost Regions, DG Regional Policy European Commission

2 l l A concrete way of working for Europe There were masses of interest all around Europe and most programmes had many good applications Project partners liked the programme, and the most important criticism came from projects that had been refused Many truly excellent projects were carried out within the 70 INTERREG programmes The INTERREG III programmes were generally very much appreciated

3 There were of course also problems: The difference between the three strands was not very well understood Many programme and project managers were too stuck in their perception of the earlier INTERREG programmes – which meanwhile had developed and matured Strand A (cross-border co-operation) and strand B (transnational co-operation) were meant to contribute to concrete solutions of concrete problems INTERREG III – some pitfalls

4 Only strand C (interregional co- operation) was designed to focus mainly on the exchange of experience and identifying best practice. This was for strand A and strand B rather a by- product than the (main) aim However, in particular, strand C (INTERREG IIIC) covering all EU countries was criticized of being of interest only of the participants and in addition considered very complicated INTERREG III – some pitfalls

5 Some of the projects funded by the INTERREG programmes did not deliver any results, because the projects were too difficult to manage (too many participants, costly, lengthy) In those cases implementation was delayed. Many INTERREG projects and programmes thus lost quite a bit of money In addition, many projects seemed very inward looking, benefitting the participants only INTERREG III – problems

6 l l The wide variety of topics and the lack of visibility of INTERREG III programmes, projects and tangible project outputs and results turned out to be a major problem amongst regional policy makers, politicians and in DG Regional Policy In addition, projects were late and the programmes lost money. This meant less credibility for INTERREG in DG Regional Policy and also in the European Court of Auditors. Some doubted if complicated co-operation programmes should really be financed by European money at all Difficulties to move from INTERREG III to INTERREG IV

7 l l Even stronger emphasis on tangible, understandable and visible results than before l l More focus on topics of indisputable European priority l l Strong emphasis on visibility, communication and diffusion of results l l In particular, the new INTERREG programmes try to build into the projects early contacts with bigger regional policy programmes to facilitate the transfer and application of methods, lessons and results into these big programmes The new generation of INTERREG IV programmes was achieved by trying to build on the success factors of INTERREG III but addressing weaknesses

8 l l Programmes and projects need to achieve their results and to keep their time-tables l l Shorter projects, a more limited number of partners l l Improved and clearer programme and project management rules l l However, stronger emphasis on developing a good project co-operation process is also needed Project management in the new generation of INTERREG IV programmes should be improved

9 l l A good project planning and implementation process must be designed for co-operation projects to be successful l l Therefore, your focus on how to overcome cultural difficulties and biases and instead turning them into advantages is extremely welcome l l The recommendations in the draft report are mostly very helpful and may really help improving the co- operation process l l However, remember that the co-operation process is not enough as an end in itself. Every project should have wide benefits. Projects cannot be useful only for project partners themselves Improving project management requires a more intense co-operation

10 Trust is crucial but very difficult to achieve The partners must be committed. The same persons should be involved from the beginning to the end Project partners need to learn to know each other well. Therefore, the number of project partners must be limited Necessary that project partners can communicate in a common language – but a common language is not enough to avoid cultural misunderstandings Really good co-operation must be based on a large extent of trust. Trust can only develop, if project partners are trustworthy, loyal and helpful when needed Creating a relationship of trust is fundamental for a co-operation project to be successful

11 This requires one or several face-to-face meetings already before submitting the application and many regular meetings and other kinds of face-to-face interaction further on All project partners must be committed and take full responsibility for carrying out their share of the project Project partners should be included only if they have the mandate and possibility to work on project tasks Project partners must deliver what has been promised and on time – failure to do this is easily interpreted as a lack of trustworthiness by the other partners Project partners should be involved through the whole project

12 The project must : have clear goals a feasible, rather detailed work plan involve true co-operation actions, not separate actions here and there clear, agreed deliverables from the beginning These must all be thoroughly discussed and agreed by all partners from the outset The division of tasks and of funding must be seen as fair and acceptable by all partners Successful co-operation projects require a good and interactive co-operation process

13 The project needs one good, trusted, responsible manager – management cannot be a joint activity for all the partners However, the manager should be more like a coach building a good team rather than an old-fashioned military type of leader A good manager of a co-operation project probably has some resemblance of a manager of a modern knowledge institution or a theatre or film producer Conductor of an orchestra: each musician is more skilful on his or her instrument but the conductor is responsible for the sound, tempo and interpretation Managing a successful co-operation project

14 Projects will not achieve any results and deliver, if they are not well managed in a team spirit The process of preparing and managing projects should be handled carefully in very close contact with all project partners Misunderstandings and conflicts must be cleared and solved as soon as possible – not be set aside and ignored Managing a successful co-operation project

15 l l Projects should address really important topics that may lead to strong economic and environmentally sound development of European regions l l Project plans should be innovative but still realistic and feasible with clear goals and milestones l l Projects must deliver results on time l l Project partners should make early contacts with those that prepare projects for funding by the Convergence or Competitive and Employment programmes of the European Regional Fund to make them ready to implement successful actions at a larger scale ? What is required for the new INTERREG IV projects to be seen by politicians and administrators as relevant and delivering results that make a real difference ?


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