Two weeks ago, the Assembly of European Regions (AER) stressed in a meeting with Commissioner Hübner the importance of interregional cooperation. This week on 19, 20 and 21 April the AER took in Valencia another important step to support and promote interregional cooperation. At the AER Centurio conference, regional best practices in the field of innovation and competitiveness have been presented and studied by participants from 31 regions from all over Europe. Competitiveness can only be reached on local and regional levels by directly sharing knowledge between the Regions' stated Rafael Ripoll, Vice-Minister for European Affairs and Development Cooperation of the Comunitat Valenciana-E.
Several workshops for regional innovation, economic development and tourism allowed participants to have a debate between each other and with European experts about the ways of transferring best practices from one Region to another.
The future of interregional cooperation was as well discussed during the conference. Ulla Ropponen from the DG Regional Policy of the European Commission presented the possibilities on interregional level for the period of 2007 until 2013. 'Within the new Territorial Cooperation objective, Interreg III C will have one single successor programme for thematic interregional cooperation with strong focus on Lisbon (the EU strategy on innovation) and Gothenburg (sustainable development in economy, environment and employment) priorities' she announced.
As an example of positive sharing of experiences, the Danish Region of Vejle transferred its best practice "Green Network" to the Region of Olomouc in Czech Republic. The Green Network model is a voluntary co-operation on environmental improvements between private industries and public authorities, involving already 280 companies. The main idea of the common pilot project is now to foster a cooperation based on dialogue between the public sector and private companies or organizations in the region of Olomouc.
'The exchange of experience is only one aspect of interregional cooperation. The next step is even more important: concrete actions to make use of the knowledge gained. The Centurio Programme has now been running for one and a half year and the participating Regions have already started the preparation of a new application for the next programming period' said Klaus Klipp, the AER Secretary General.
The AER Centurio Interreg III C Programme runs for two and a half years and is co-financed by the European Commission with about EUR 1 Mio.
The Assembly of European Regions (AER) is the political organisation of regions in Europe and their spokesperson at European and international level. Its vocation is to defend the regions' interests in the political process and develop interregional cooperation. AER brings together 255 Regions from 30 European Countries and 13 interregional organisations. (www.a-e-r.org)
Orsolya Farkas, Centurio co-ordinator; ph.: +33 388 22 74 32; e-mail: email@example.com
Robert Himsl, Centurio co-ordinator; ph.: +33 388 22 74 44; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org