To anyone who is reading us,
For this first issue of our Regional Cooperation Online Magazine, I wanted to find a representative title both to present our Projects and to welcome all our future readers.
I was looking at some European platforms, strategies, when I found myself reading one of the Regional Cooperation Council’s Strategies (1): which better title than this one here?
Regional Cooperation could be defined in many ways. It is, and should be, an essential element of stabilisation and association, a mix of joint actions’ and best practices’ exchanges among national, regional and local actors from different States. Our 18 Projects do represent those concepts and I am honoured to introduce them to all of you.
The EEA & Norway Grants Fund for Regional Cooperation, after all, is born to support projects tackling common European challenges through regional cross-border and transnational cooperation. Because those challenges are not at all confined by national borders. Not surprisingly transborder actions are laying at the base of this Fund. Under the Fund for Regional Cooperation, indeed, project partners may cooperate in different ways, towards regional cross-border cooperation on broader regional challenges, or towards transnational cooperation focusing on European challenges. In both options, actions are dealing with common challenges. Together, they act to reduce economic and social disparities in the European Economic Area and to strengthen relations of the Donor States Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein with 15
Beneficiary States in Northern, Central and Southern Europe. But alongside the 15 Beneficiary (Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Greece, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia), partnering was possible in terms of any eligible entity within the following countries: Albania, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Russia, Serbia, Turkey and Ukraine.
Therefore, our 18 Projects have been selected and awarded because with their mission and recognising regional cross-border cooperation as a key driver, they aim to find shared solutions to certain common issues.
And we are sure they will demonstrate that. They are considered able to enhance socioeconomic and at the same time human connectivity among them, while developing a shared, inclusive and competitive economic space. Their goals, and future activities, are reflective of the most common trends in regional environments, of the regular contacts both at political and technical levels.
Why an Online Magazine and what it is?
Because we, as FO and on behalf of FMO, believe that this platform is needed to give them a space to share their results. The Mag is a tool to give them voice. We can affirm it following the successful experience of the Youth Employment Online Magazine, which is increasing in terms of visibility and new members. I correct myself: our Projects are not just “members”, they are an active part of a Family. A Family that, starting from today, is expanding.
You all, readers and Projects, are now part of our Family. I am also thanking our Grethe, Senior Sector Officer for the EEA & Norway Grants; I believe that she will agree with my words, and please find her reflections below in the following pages.
With the Fund for Youth Employment, we have gone through a pandemic year in which we have all tried to find solutions and our Mag has often been a meeting point for reflections on a common challenge. I do not want to talk a lot about Covid… it is just a practical example I would like to share with you, since I think it is expressing the concept “we are all in this together” (that we used, indeed, in our Youth Employment Mag). And, especially, to demonstrate the sense of the Family we would like to be.
In that sense, also, I believe that transnational projects can better help, and at the same time, the crisis that we are all living (which is not only a sanitary emergency, but also a socio-economic one), can usher in a new era of collaboration. I am convinced that our Regional Cooperation Projects will be the proof of its with their activities.
An enhanced regional and transnational cooperation can bolster the region’s abilities to fight crisis and common challenges, simultaneously in the near term but bringing long-term benefits.
With this last reflection, I renovate my welcome to all of you and my thankfulness and, especially, I renew my gratitude for finally launching our Regional Cooperation Magazine.
I hope you will enjoy it, and that through it we will be able to further expand our Family.
Gian Luca Bombarda,
The Fund Director