At the CPMR Political Bureau in Pärnu (Estonia) on 21 June, regional representatives from across Europe discussed the future of Cohesion Policy and European Territorial Cooperation (ETC). There was a strong consensus about the need to reinforce ETC for the post-2020 period, considering its essential added value.
Mr Cezary Cieslukowski, Vice-President of the CPMR Baltic Sea Commission and Regional Councillor of Podlaskie Region, presented the Baltic Sea Commission’s messages on Interreg. These messages are outlined in the Oulu Declaration, adopted during the latest Baltic Sea Commission General Assembly in May 2018.
Mr Cieslukowski stressed that Interreg programmes have enabled the development of a more united Baltic Sea Region. He said that Interreg is an indispensable and unique tool to foster cooperation between EU and non-EU countries, giving the example of the Interreg programme Poland-Belorussia and Ukraine.
Regarding the Commission’s proposal to strengthen the link between ETC and EU macro-regional strategies, Mr Cieslukowski, welcomed this element, while stressing the importance of reinforcing multi-level governance and the role of regions in these strategies.
Ms Kristiina Hämäläinen, Vice-Chair of the Board, Regional Council of Päijät-Häme, and Finnish Member of the CPMR Political Bureau, shared concerns from the Baltic Sea macro-region about the European Commission´s proposal to abolish the Interreg maritime cross-border cooperation programmes. The three existing maritime cross-border programmes (Central Baltic, South Baltic and Botnia-Atlantica programmes) are very strategic for regions in the Baltic Sea macro-region.
She mentioned that maritime cross-border programmes should be equal to land cross-border programmes. The abolition of maritime cross-border programmes weakens the subsidiarity and building of multi-level governance in the Baltic Sea macro-region. The decision-making would be transferred to the transnational level weakening the role of cities and regions as decision-makers, and further spilling over the negative effect to the adjoined regions weakening the peripheries.
Ms Kristiina Hämäläinen also called for the continuation of the Interreg Europe programme which is likely to disappear for the post-2020 period. Numerous Interreg Europe projects have shown the importance of interregional exchange of good practices in innovation and sectors of regional strengths, in other words in smart specialisation.
For more information about the position of the CPMR Regions on Interreg, please read the document CPMR 10 messages on post-2020 Interreg.