Change the perspective! From cross-border to interaction area


Dresden, Germany

Leibniz Institute of Ecological Urban and Regional Development (IOER)

11 June 2019

Weberplatz 1
D-01217 Dresden

The ESPON Seminar “Change the perspective! From cross-border to interaction area” took place at the Leibniz Institute of Ecological and Urban Regional Development (IOER) in Dresden on the 11th of June 2019, focusing the challenges of border areas, and taking a closer look at the experiences in Central Europe, in particular, those from the German-Polish-Czech border regions.

Robert Knippschild, on behalf of the host institution, welcomed the participants and briefly presented the work developed by IOER in terms of research and advice for the sustainable development of cities and regions, being their main drivers current climate and demographic changes. Vassilen Iotzov, ESPON EGTC, shared an inspirational opening speech on the role of Interreg as an instrument to support cross-border visions, governance and actions, and to make change possible. He also presented most relevant ESPON research projects for cross-border regions, namely in terms of services, governance and externalities, as well as available ESPON data and monitoring tools.

The first session of the day brought together representatives from three Joint Secretariats of Interreg programmes – Hana Muller Karlová (Germany/Saxony-Czech Republic), Pawel Kurant (Germany/Saxony-Poland) and Maciej Molak (Czech Republic-Poland). During a roundtable discussion moderated by Martin Guillermo-Ramirez, Secretary General of the Association of the European Border Regions (AEBR), they highlighted the contribution of Interreg to alleviate border obstacles, referring not only to physical or visible borders but also to mental and administrative or legal challenges.

Interreg framework includes actions in different axes such as regional mobility, cross-border education, common natural and environmental heritage, cross-border partnerships and institutional capacity. Ms Karlová stressed the role of four Euroregions operating in the Saxon-Czech border area and their achievements in cross-border culture, emergency preparedness and other fields. Mr Kurant explained the benefits of managing a small territory shared by Saxony and Poland, with the participation of two euroregions, and the benefits of not a not too big area: easiness to define problems, concentrate on solutions and management. The main disadvantage is limited cooperation. Mr Molak described the Czech-Polish cooperation area and showed some successful projects and main challenges faced.

The second session focused available evidence and visions for interaction areas, starting with an intervention from Bernd Schuh (OIR) about the challenges and pitfalls of measuring the ‘net impact’ or the performance of policy interventions. He expressed that thematic concentration did not work at all and, perhaps, there are too many specific objectives, results and output indicators, losing some territorial evidence.

Volker Schmidt-Seiwert (BBSR) shared some thoughts about territorial monitoring in cross-border areas, and the ‘BBSR Spatial Monitoring System’ particularly in Germany and neighbouring (border) regions, one of the outputs of the well-known MORO project to model spatial planning (Modelvorhaben der Raumordnung). He shared the recommendations for action towards a permanent spatial monitoring system, starting from the identification of the most relevant topics and appropriate indicators (and respective scale) to represent spatial processes, building upon existing and successful cross-border monitoring systems, in order to secure long-term cooperation with all stakeholders of spatial monitoring.

Maciej Zathey (Instytut Rozwoju Terytorialnego) presented the ‘Common Future Vision for the German-Polish Interaction Area: Horizon 2030’ based on a shared concept of spatial development for the Polish-German integration area (Verflechtungsraum), towards a Polish-German supra-regional contribution to the cohesion policy in relation to the Territorial Agenda 2020: “together and not just next to each other”. This is a concept based in polycentric development of the territory to face most challenges in a joint and effective way to achieve better connectivity, investing in people, and promoting all type of interactions between both countries.

Milan Jerabek (Brno University) shared some final inputs about the contribution of cross-border projects to strengthening the regional competitiveness of the Czech-Saxon border region. He also shared some views on the impact of small project funds and people-to-people projects, but also the differences and asymmetries between both countries.

The third session of the day ‘Interactions among funding schemes’ looked at how to strengthen the links between Interreg and other funding streams, in order to maximize impact. A special focus to the new Interreg Central Europe experimental call that can be a testbed for a new impact-driven coordination mechanism between different EU instruments, as presented by Monika Schönerklee-Grasser (Interreg CE JS) during his keynote speech. She highlighted the efforts by the EC and the Member States to “ensure the coordination between ESI funds and other relevant Union policies, strategies and instruments”. The impact of a low funded program such as Interreg might inspire others when establishing deeper coordination mechanisms between different initiatives.

Dirk Peters (DG Regio) shared the vision to CBC post-2020, faster programming with shorter and modern priorities, specifically for border regions, stressing that “if only 20% of existing obstacles were removed border regions would still gain 2% in GDP”. He explained the value of current tools (European Territorial Cooperation and EGTC), the development of Small Project Funds, and the possibilities that a European Cross-Border Mechanism would open.

Peter Schenk (EC DG Research and Innovation) presented the new Horizon Europe, a €100 billion research and innovation-funding programme for the seven-year period 2021-2027, including the specificities and complementarities with Cohesion Policy (ERDF) and possible types of synergies between funds. Janos Schmied (DG Grow) presented COSME programme and focussed his presentation on the strengthening of links with EU instruments facilitating cross-border market access, sharing some examples of good practices and synergies between ESIF and Enterprise Europe Network (EEN), where not only EU member states, but 60 countries currently take part.

A moderated round table to discuss the post-2020 Interreg niches for interaction areas closed the discussions for the day, bringing together representatives from Germany, Poland and the Czech Republic –Riger Mackeldey (Saxon State Ministry of Environment and Agriculture), Jaroslaw Sopel (Ministry of Investment and Economic Development of Poland), Gregor Firschbach (German Federal Ministry of the Interior) and Jan Pikna (Ministry of Regional development of Czech Republic).

Interreg might get less funding, but there is much more expected from it. This shows its success. It was highlighted that, currently, CBC programmes at pre-accession countries are already managed by DG Regio, and very soon this will also happen with CBC programmes at the external borders of the EU (current ENI-CBC programmes). They stressed the need to keep on simplifying procedures, but also the general appreciation of these programmes so that functional areas can be better understood by everyone.


ESPON Seminar Programme

  • Acrobat Document | 175KB

Robert Knippschild IOER

  • Acrobat Document | 1.01MB

Vassilen Iotzon ESPON EGTC

  • Acrobat Document | 735KB

Hana Muller Karlova

  • Acrobat Document | 2.71MB

Pawel Kurant

  • Acrobat Document | 4.15MB

Maciej Molak

  • Acrobat Document | 1.49MB

Bernd Schuh OIR

  • Acrobat Document | 828KB

Schmidt Seiwert BBSR

  • Acrobat Document | 2.37MB

Maciej Zathey Institute for Territorial Development

  • Acrobat Document | 5.17MB

Milan Jerabek Brno University

  • Acrobat Document | 1.14MB

Monika Schönerklee-Grasser Interreg Central Europe

  • Acrobat Document | 1.47MB

Dirk Peters ESIF

  • Acrobat Document | 691KB

Peter Schenk Horizon Europe

  • Acrobat Document | 477KB

Janos Schmied COSME

  • Acrobat Document | 1.55MB