The start of 2020 marks the final year of implementation of various EU-funded programmes, including Interreg. Interreg is a series of programmes that stimulate cooperation between regions in the EU, often (but not exclusively) through cross-border initiatives. Cross-border effects are known to reduce labour market access, mobility and economic development. New challenges, the circular economy, climate issues and the energy transition in particular, do not stop at national or maritime borders. Moving along with the new Cohesion Policy priority areas from 2021 onwards, Interreg will adopt a stronger strategic focus, i.e. on the transition to smarter, low-carbon economies, and a stronger orientation on impact and results. The simplification and flexibility of the regulations are currently discussed as part of the trilogues between the European Commission, Parliament and Council.
These issues were the subject of a lecture by Pascal Boijmans, Head of the Interreg Unit of the DG for Regional and Urban Policy. He provided an overview of the past, present and future of Interreg, as main European tool for territorial cooperation. After his presentation, two discussants raised thought-provoking questions, and the audience participated in the ensuing discussion. Hans de Jong, Interreg Coordinator at the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy, raised an important question regarding the new strategic focus and the increasing need for innovative investments, now that budgets are usually decreasing. Wil Zonneveld, Professor in Urban and Regional Planning at TU Delft, raised the role of academic research in informing the programmes. This revealed the room for improvement regarding data quality and effective monitoring systems of the programmes. The audience comprised around 25 people from the Technical University of Delft, EPRC and Dutch government officials.
The afternoon is part of a joint series ‘Contemporary challenges in European spatial development’, organised by the Spatial Planning & Strategy chair in Delft’s Urbanism Department and EPRC Delft. This second session in the series was moderated by EPRC Director John Bachtler and Marcin Dąbrowski, Assistant Professor in the Urbanism Department of TU Delft. As the EPRC base at the Technical University of Delft is built up, EPRC is developing its cooperation with Dutch universities and government departments at different levels. The lecture by a high-level representative of the European Commission, leading on European Territorial Cooperation programmes, is an example of the new opportunities provided by our location in the Netherlands.
The next seminar of the ‘Contemporary challenges in European spatial development’ series will take place on 18 February in Delft, and discusses Sustainable Urban Development. Follow EPRC and Spatial Planning & Strategy to receive updates, or get in touch.