Made in MED in the Balkans

On 13th June 2019 in Sarajevo for the first time since 2007, the Directorate for European Integration of Bosnia and Herzegovina together with the Joint Secretariat of the Interreg MED Programme organised a capitalisation event focused on the results achieved by our projects in the Balkan countries.

The event is an occasion to showcase the Programme cooperation added- value assessing the real impact of Interreg MED projects throughout IPA Regions.

This sentence by Džana Sokolovic opened the conference and summarised the goal of the event.

Since 2016, Mediterranean partners in the Balkan countries have been very active implementing projects in many different topics and areas. So the time had come to demonstrate the results and impact of these operations in the region.

« Made in MED in the BALKANS » gathered over 100 participants coming from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro, the three Interreg MED-IPA participating countries. The event counted with representatives of the European Union delegation in Albania and Bosnia and Herzegovina, project partners, ministries, associations, cross border and transnational programmes representatives.

Fourty-five projects out of ninety-one include partners from this area meaning that half of our projects has Balkan partners. Whereas IPA partners represent only 6% of the total partners involved in the Programme. They are distributed among the 8 thematic communities of the Programme but more specifically in the Green growth, Efficient Building, Sustainable Tourism and Social and Creative thematic communities. 

Another interesting fact is that 41% of these projects are testing and transferring projects.

These figures demonstrate the skills, the capacity and the strength of the IPA partners to deliver the programme results but also the need for these territories to implement pilot actions, to test models, innovative action plans, measures, protocols and to mainstream them. In this sense, the participation of IPA countries seems capitalisation oriented.

During the morning, nine projects presented the results obtained in these territories: INHERIT, EnerNETMob, LOCATIONS, Re-live Waste, Odeon, Local4Green, MD.net, TEESCHOOLS, COMPOSE. These projects are mostly focused on efficient building and urban transport topics. The presentations generated a strong interest from the audience and fruitful exchanges. 

The director of the Directorate for European Integration of BiH, Edin Dilberovic pointed out this interest:

It is a special pleasure to be the host of this meeting, because the event allows to show, through concrete examples, the benefits and potential of the changes brought by the accession to the EU. Also, this is an opportunity for all interested parties to exchange views on the effects of what has been done so far and on the future of territorial cooperation in the region. 

In the afternoon, a round table on the future of European Territorial Cooperation in the region took place.

Participants and speakers raised the necessity to increase the budget of IPA countries for the next programming period, so they can go beyond of what has been done so far.

Two main improvements have been proposed for the future: improving the capacity building of potential beneficiaries to design and implement European territorial cooperation projects and raising awareness about the funds and EU Programmes available in the region and their specificities. 

The EU Delegation in Albania highlighted another issue: the results of EU projects in IPA region is poorly communicated especially to the European Commission. As a consequence, the positive impact of EU funds in these territories is not visible. The various stakeholders involved in EU projects proposed to join their forces and lobby to give them visibility.

From a programme perspective project partners expressed the necessity to simplify the financial procedures to secure the cash flow of beneficiaries and to optimise the output indicators: less but more realistic and specific. They also stressed the need to be supported in their search for partnership.

Finally, the audience and panellists reminded that Programmes should identify the beneficiary needs and start designing their strategy starting from this basis.

This conference is only the beginning of the demonstration of the Programme capitalisation approach. Later this year, the 8 thematic communities coordinated by our Horizontal projects will have their final events to report the results of their projects.

In addition, on the occasion of the event“MED for YOU – Unfolding a strong narrative for policy change”, in Athens, the Programme will premiere the first evidence of its successful capitalisation approach. We will reveal how this unique architecture has taken shape and produced concrete results little by little thus demonstrating its added value.

Join us in Athens on 24th October 2019 to learn more about the Interreg MED story and projects!