“Conformity is the jailer of freedom and the enemy of growth.” John F. Kennedy
The Family analogy has been used by other writers for this publication in efforts to underline the inclusive, embracing, caring nature of the multitude of Projects under the umbrella of ‘The EEA and Norway Grants Fund for Regional Cooperation’. The analogy is a valid one. A family evolves and grows together, learns together and prospers together.
Evolution, defined as a process of development and change from one state to another, refers to the gradual, often incremental, progress made through time and space of people, animals, plants and, when applied to this Family’s case – their offspring of programmes and projects, particularly their methodologies and strategies.
Regional Cooperation allows for the application of important principles in this evolution: economies of scale; benefits of shared wisdom; exchange of best practices; development of durable partnerships; creation of structures and mechanisms for meaningful dialogue fired by mutually beneficial communication.
This is the panorama of your work, and it is important to understand that your programmes and Projects are not working in a vacuum, but can benefit from the knowledge and experience of existing models. They will then assume their own identity and characteristics, and in turn, offer invaluable feedback, input and investment for their erstwhile mentors. The relevance of this approach is underlined as well by the European Commission’s cohesion policy.
European Territorial Cooperation (ETC), is one of the two goals of Europe’s cohesion policy and provides a framework for the implementation of joint actions and policy exchanges between national, regional and local actors from different Member States. The overarching objective of European Territorial Cooperation (ETC) is to promote a harmonious economic, social and territorial development of the Union as a whole. It is built around three strands of cooperation: cross-border, transnational and interregional. Despite being one of the oldest EU tools, cohesion is one of the key elements of the recent recovery proposal for a post-Covid world.
The ‘Conference on the Future of Europe’ has been aired as an opportunity to “open a new space for debate” and “address Europe’s challenges and priorities.” These are listed as: Climate change and Environment; Health: Stronger Economy, Social Justice and Jobs; EU in the World; Values and Rights, Rule of Law, Security; Digital Transformation; European Democracy; Migration; Education, Culture, Youth and Sport.
The Conference aims to reflect Europe’s diversity, and to bring Europe beyond its capital cities, reaching every corner of the EU, strengthening the link between Europeans and the institutions that serve them. It will do so through a multitude of Conference-events and debates organised across the EU, as well as through an interactive multilingual digital platform. Young people in particular are encouraged to take part and share their ideas. European, national, regional and local authorities, as well as civil society and other organisations can also organise events to involve as many people as possible.
Europe’s priorities are the Fund’s priorities and are reflected in the multiple and diverse Projects that animate the pages of the Magazine. You are already, inter alia, working on areas of digital connectivity, on strengthening public health infrastructure, on climate challenges, gender in enterprise, democracy and good governance, innovation and development, integration of minorities, Inclusion through sports for children with developmental disabilities and on moving to more sustainable patterns of production and consumption.
This work you are doing, its outputs and analysis, can provide invaluable input to this debate. It can help shape some future policies. You should be part of the debate. Subject to hierarchical approval, distillations of the Projects can be drawn and aggregated on a sectoral basis over the course of this year, and the findings then prepared and presented next year to the ‘Conference on the Future of Europe.’ The Family continues to expand.
Tom Mc Grath