Tuesday, 25 September 2018 10:44

Learning across macro-regions

Written by  Let's communicate!

So far, four EU macro-regional strategies have been adopted. They cover different parts of Europe, but they are all based on the same principles and ideas, and often deal with similar problems and challenges. Thus, exchange across the regions is important and fruitful, as the two workshops “Message in a bottle: communication across macro-regional strategies” and a joint kick-off meeting to promote the role of social policies in the macro-regional context prove. The workshops were organised in September by Interact Programme.

The EUSBSR Communication Point had a chance to interview project manager Jörg Mirtl from Interact Programme regarding the workshops. In addition, Miitta Eronen from EUSBSR Communication point provided some comments on the workshop in Slovenia.


Why did Interact Programme decide to organise these seminars?

Jörg Mirtl: We at Interact are passionate about cooperation and macro-regional strategies. Interact was asked by EU Member States to foster the exchange of experiences among the four existing macro-regional strategies. By enhancing communication and policy learning from one macro-region to another, we can improve the strategies, particularly to improve their governance, share best practice and support the strategies in effectively communicating their successes.


What were some main topics discussed?

Miitta Eronen: In Slovenia, the starting point was the decision taken last year: exchange of information is needed. This year, the meeting  in Izola, Slovenia continued from there, and the workshop provided a platform to exchange ideas and practices. It turned out that all macro-regions deal with similar challenges when it comes to communications, such as limited resources. Cooperation and the idea of being better together is fundamental within macro-regions, but it is clear that cooperation between macro-regions is also needed and would be very useful. 


Jörg Mirtl: There were two main objectives of the meeting in Bratislava. Firstly, we wanted to discuss how macro-regional strategies can increasingly consider social challenges and opportunities such as (un)employment or migration. Secondly, we wanted to look at the question of how the ‘macro-regional method’ of working together can be beneficial to social policy making on the European level.  

Clearly, some social challenges can be better tackled on the macro-regional level. The integration of Roma in the Danube Region is a particular social policy area where this approach could be beneficial.

 "Roland Hanak, Coordinator of the Priority Area "People and Skills" of the Danube Strategy (Federal Ministry for Labour, Social Affairs, Health and Consumer Protection, Austria) gives a presentation".

What could other strategies learn particularly from the EUSBSR and vice versa?

Jörg Mirtl: As the oldest of the four macro-regional strategies, EUSBSR is in a great position to share its experiences and the developed practices it has found most effective. This knowledge sharing can help to speed up the development of the newer macro-regional strategies.

Equally, the other three strategies have found solutions which can be considered by EUSBSR. In particular, the Alpine strategy developed innovative approaches to both youth involvement practices and communication methods.


What were the conclusions and what are the next steps from here?

Jörg Mirtl: We are looking at a number of follow-up actions as macro-regional strategies continue to develop and evolve. Interact has a particular role to provide ongoing training and support the four strategies. We identified communication as an area where the strategies would like support.
We also need to build on the existing ‘macro-regional momentum’ to show the effectiveness of these approaches. The scope of macro-regional strategies goes beyond regional policy and classical territorial cooperation. There are opportunities to embed macro-regional strategies into social policies and vice versa.

In the light of contemporary challenges in the social field, Interact has set up policy networks that deal with inclusive growth and migration, which will continue to evolve and develop support for macro-regional strategies. More information about these networks can be found here.


18 September 2018 in Izola (Slovenia), Interact facilitated the workshop “Message in a bottle: communication across macro-regional strategies”. This meeting was co-organized by the Slovenian Ministry for Foreign Affairs and the Adraitic and Ionian Strategy’s Facility Point. On 20-21 September 2018 in Bratislava, together with the Policy Area “Education” of the EUSBSR as well as the Priority Area “People and Skills” of the Danube Strategy and the Action Group “Labour Market, Education & Training” of the Alpine Strategy, Interact organised a joint kick-off meeting to enhance and promote the role of social policies in the macro-regional context.


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