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CENTRAL EUROPE Programme event on achievements and future goals

Annual Event in Prague was looking backward and forward

Being in the middle of the funding period running from 2007 to 2013, the CENTRAL EUROPE Programme used the opportunity to look back on the first half of the programming period but also to give an outlook on the next steps to be taken until 2013 and beyond during its this year’s Annual Event in Prague. Beside these main issues for discussion the topics as transport and demographic change were also tackled.

66 projects have been approved by the Programme so far working in the fields of innovation, accessibility, environment and competitiveness of cities and regions. Further projects will be approved beginning of December 2010 within the 3rd standard call for proposals and within so called strategic call that is dealing with topics of special importance for the Central Europe area in spring 2011. The Programme also announced to launch a fourth and last call in the first semester of 2011. „The Programme has already contributed to a wide extend to the important issues of the future: on smart, sustainable and inclusive growth. And we are expecting to achieve more via the ongoing and coming calls“, Barbara Di Piazza, Head of the Joint Technical Secretariat of the Central Europe Programme said.

Discussing the issue of what transnational programmes working on strengthening European regions can do to help the EU to overcome future challenges Nadja Kobe, Monitoring Committee Member of the Central Europe Programme said: „Transnational Programmes as the Central Europe Programme are place based programmes which complement sectoral policies in topics which cannot be solved by one Member State or one region alone. “The Europe 2020 strategy recently agreed upon on European level integrating a digital agenda, innovation , better education for youth, a more resource efficient Europe, an industrial policy in times of globalisation, new skills and jobs and reduction of poverty  will be one of the main tasks tackling future challenges.  „Regional policy will have a lot of opportunities in helping to make Europe 2020 a success and make Europe a more prosperous place“, emphasized Johann Sollgruber coming from the European Commission DG Regio.

Aleksander Lazarevic from the DG Information, Society and Media within the European Commission focused on the importance of broadband connections in Europe as one of the main goals for the future. “The EU-Commission has set out high targets for the future. Until 2013 every European household should be connected to broadband internet and until 2020 half of all households should be connected to fast internet connections with 30 Mbit. These goals are important”, Mr. Lazarevic is convinced, “as fast internet connection is a key driver for innovation and innovation provides jobs and growth.“

Accessibility as backbone for regional development

Accessibility is a key for regional development in Europe and one of the four main areas tackled by projects in the CENTRAL EUROPE Programme. Discussing the topic of the revision of Trans-European-Transport-Networks(TEN-T) connecting Europe through sustainable and environmentally friendly means of transport, Thomas Spiegel of the Ministry of Transport, Innovation and Technology in Austria said: „TEN-T definitely decides on the competitiveness of whole Europe in the future and is therefore a core issue“.



Demographic change – the challenge for the future

Demographic change will be one of the main issues of future policies, on regional, national and EU level. It is also one of the main priorities within the Europe 2020 strategy. Demographic change is influenced by a high number of factors as migration within countries and across borders, the ageing society and brain drain. “Ageing society is a fact and it cannot be changed. Nevertheless this is a challenge of today and will become even more challenging in future. It is necessary to be prepared for that”, said Tomas Kucera from the University of Prague. Tanja Dedovic, working for the International Organisation for Migration backed this by indicating: “The population in Central Europe will decline, which could mean a reduction of living standards as it goes hand and with lower productivity and lower economic output.”  To address these issues two projects funded under the Central Europe Programme presented their first outputs. The project Q-Ageing is working in the field of the ageing of the society and helps by concrete measures as ICT tools dedicated to elderly people for example. The project YURA on the other hand is working in the field of avoiding brain drain of young and skilled people.

Concrete outputs of projects

Finalising the conference, participants had the chance to visit outcomes of two Central Europe projects and recognise the effects of regional cooperation in a study visit. The project ACT CLEAN working on the improvement of eco efficiency in companies showed the example of a company improving eco efficiency in offset printing by changing from the use of normal colors to environmentally friendlier colors produced out of organic components. Test showed that the quality of the product stays the same with the new types of color. For the project UrbSpace on the other hand a revitalised open public space was visited which will be revitalised after an in-deep discussion with the local population, including pupils of the nearby school and inhabitants of the neighbourhood. Examples like these show the positive effects of the projects and can be given in all eight EU-Member States of the area and for all 66 projects approved so far. 

Cross fertilisation continued

After starting cross fertilization seminars, in which participants coming from different approved projects within one priority of the programme, during the 2009 Annual Event in Verona and its continuation in spring and autumn this year for priority 1 – innovation – and priority 3 – environment -, approved projects working in thematic issues related to the field accessibility and competitiveness of cities and regions met in Prague during this year’s Annual Event. Finding common solutions and related topics in which cooperation is necessary, but also networking between project partners took place in this respect during Day 2 of the event.



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