The European Policies Research Centre was heavily involved, as usual, in this year’s European Week of Regions and Cities, which is the biggest event worldwide on regional and urban development and EU Regional Policy. Held annually in Brussels, the event welcomes thousands of participants (local, regional, national and European decision-makers and experts) for over 100 workshops and debates, exhibitions and networking opportunities. EPRC researchers led on and contributed to a number of sessions, covering a variety of topics related to regional development and European Union Cohesion Policy.
Prof Fiona Wishlade and Rona Michie led two events on financial instruments, featuring a ‘bottom up’ practitioner perspective on experience with FIs and hopes for the future, and a ‘top-down’ institutional perspective on the FI reforms under debate. Both events were linked to current work for ESPON on financial instruments and territorial cohesion and aimed to enrich our understanding of the best way forward for FIs in Cohesion policy. The session ‘Financial instruments in Cohesion Policy: practitioner perspectives on lessons from the past and hopes for the future’ (https://portal.scotlandeuropa.com/event-listings/view/69) on 9 October was a panel discussion among practitioners (Managing Authorities and financial intermediaries) on the implementation of FIs under Cohesion policy. It aimed to identify key lessons from the past about the governance and territorial impact of financial instruments, as well as to share hopes and plans for FIs post-2020, based on this experience. The second event, ‘Financial instruments and territorial cohesion: current debates and future perspectives’ (https://europa.eu/regions-and-cities/programme/sessions/117_en), which took place on 10 October, was hosted by ESPON in partnership with EPRC, the European Commission and the European Investment Bank, featuring contributors from the key institutions involved in the design, implementation and scrutiny of FIs. The workshop engaged with current debates on financial instruments and territorial cohesion, specifically the articulation of FIs at different spatial scales and levels of governance and the relationship between administrative capacity and FIs tailored to local needs. It also looked at the latest findings from the on-going ESPON project on financial instruments (https://www.espon.eu/financial-instruments).
Dr Laura Polverari was invited speaker in the EWRC session ‘30 years of EU Cohesion Policy: What works? Where? for Whom?’, on 11 October (https://europa.eu/regions-and-cities/programme/sessions/154_en). During this three hour session, which was part of the ‘University’ programme of the EWRC, scholars, practitioners and policy makers discussed the concrete and measurable results achieved by Cohesion policy over the past 30 years and lessons about the conditions that need to be in place in order to maximise achievements and address local needs with limited resources. The session included speakers from London School of Economics, OECD, the World Bank, Milan Polytechnic, DG Regio and JRC Smart Specialisation Platform. Additionally, Laura moderated the panel ‘Strengthening the capacity of PAs & stakeholders: the role of ESIF Programmes’ (https://europa.eu/regions-and-cities/programme/sessions/86_en) on 10 October, which explored the compound role of the ESI Funds in supporting the strengthening of institutional and administrative capacity, with a focus on public administrations and stakeholders. Organised by the Italian Presidency of the Council of Ministers and with speakers also from the Italian Department of Public Administration, Pomorskie, Umbria and Portugal, the panel discussed the wide range of measures funded via different but interrelated ESIF investment strands, i.e. the Thematic Objectives 11 and 2 (digital agenda part), the Smart Specialisation Strategies of TO1, the programmes’ technical assistance, all of this with a focus on the synergies that exist between these different investment strands and on concrete examples of how they are being pursued in practice.
Prof John Bachtler ran the annual Master Class on EU Cohesion Policy as part of the EWRC (https://www.regionalstudies.org/events/2018-master-class-on-eu-cohesion-policy/), where Viktoriya Dozhdeva was one of the 30 participants, selected among PhD students and early career researchers undertaking research related to European Cohesion Policy. The Master Class included presentations of papers by the participants as well as lectures and panel debates with policymakers, EU officials and senior academics to improve understanding of and research on EU Cohesion Policy. The Master Class was organised and led by the European Commission, DG for Regional and Urban Policy (DG REGIO), the European Committee of the Regions (CoR) and the Regional Studies Association (RSA) in cooperation with the European Regional Science Association (ERSA) and the Association of European Schools of Planning (AESOP). Among other things, John Bachtler chaired the paper presentation session on ‘reshaping governance and institutional relations’, presented the findings of the EPRC-led Horizon 2020 project COHESIFY on the impact of EU Cohesion Policy on European identification, and chaired the panel debate with representatives from EU Member States and EU institutions focusing on EU Cohesion Policy for the period 2021-2027. EPRC’s Viktoriya Dozhdeva delivered a presentation on the scope for EU Cohesion Policy to support culture-related investment, which builds on her wider research on the role and potential of cultural assets for regional development.
Further information on the event, including Highlights of the Week and details on all the sessions, can be found on the website of the European Week of Regions and Cities 2018: https://europa.eu/regions-and-cities/.