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The Involvement of Non-EU Member States in European Territorial Cooperation Programmes journal article

Irene McMaster, Heidi Vironen

European Structural and Investment Funds Journal, Volume 5 (2017), Issue 3, Page 235 - 244

Non-EU Member States play an important role a number of European Territorial Cooperation (ETC) Programmes and initiatives. This article focuses on the role of non-EU Member States in ETC, specifically INTERREG, examining the basis of their involvement, what participating countries ‘get out of it,’ and how this may change in the future.

Civil Society Organisations and Cross-Border Networks in the Western Balkans journal article

Dragisa Mijacic, Jasna Zarkovic

European Structural and Investment Funds Journal, Volume 5 (2017), Issue 3, Page 187 - 199

This article discusses a methodological approach in examining cross-border networks for understanding the impact of cross-border cooperation programmes, especially on socio-economic development and social cohesion. Cross-border cooperation programmes bring together different types of beneficiaries and their interaction offers interesting opportunities to test brokering roles that arise from the interaction between them. Using the empirical data on grant projects from all eleven cross-border programmes between IPA beneficiary countries of the Western Balkans for the financial framework 2007-2013, collected through a complex exercise of analysing different documents publicly available at websites of contracting authorities and operating structures, and using principles of social network analysis, the study discussed in this article successfully tested the key hypothesis that civil society organisations are the most successful type of beneficiaries in providing brokering opportunities to bridge the structural holes between different actors in cross-border cooperation programmes, regardless of the programme measure or geography.

A Practitioner-led Working Group for ‘Facilitating Better Transnational Cooperation’ journal article

Process, Lessons Learnt, Outcomes

Peter Toth

European Structural and Investment Funds Journal, Volume 5 (2017), Issue 3, Page 200 - 210

In the 2014-2020 EU Programming Period, the role of cooperation in the framework of LEADER has been enhanced. For more effective cooperation, a better understanding of the differences and similarities in relevant rules and procedures in EU member states is needed. To facilitate this, the European Network for Rural Development (ENRD) set up a working group comprising of LEADER Cooperation Practitioners (PWG).

Transnational Cooperation – an Opportunity for Social Innovation of Rural Regions journal article

Thomas Dax, Stefan Kah

European Structural and Investment Funds Journal, Volume 5 (2017), Issue 3, Page 211 - 222

Transnational cooperation is a policy instrument of the LEADER programme that has been available to local actors since the start of LEADER 25 years ago. However, its potential for social innovation has been underutilised so far. An assessment of the international debate about the usefulness of the scheme and the analysis of a case study in Austria provides insights into obstacles and opportunities of this instrument. In particular, there are opportunities for a greater use of transnational cooperation due to increased spatial interrelations and the extension of the LEADER approach to other European Structural and Investment Funds, i.e. by implementing Community-led Local Development (CLLD). The current (2014-20) EU programme period might therefore provide additional stimuli for creativity in rural development activities.

Added Value of Cross-Border Cooperation journal article

Experience from the Nordic Context

Lisa Hörnström, Anna Berlina

European Structural and Investment Funds Journal, Volume 5 (2017), Issue 3, Page 178 - 186

Territorial cooperation is assumed to bring added value to regional and local activities, contribute to balanced development across European regions, and increase integration between different parts of the European territory. Territorial cooperation can bring added value in terms of finding solutions to common problems, help to mobilise critical mass, contribute to learning, and build structures for future territorial cooperation. Cooperation across national borders has a long tradition in the Nordic Region. Cross-border cooperation committees (CBCCs) were established in various border areas as early as the 1960s. When the Interreg initiative was introduced in the Nordic Region in 1995 it brought additional funding and strengthened cross-border and transnational cooperation. The scope of this study is to explore the added value of Interreg programmes to the Nordic CBCCs. The priority areas of the cross-border programmes covering Nordic regions will be compared with the objectives of Nordic cross-border cooperation. Further, two examples will be highlighted to illustrate the two-way linkage between Interreg cross-border programmes and Nordic CBCCs.

RIS3 in the French Research and Innovation Context journal article

Maud Pelletier

European Structural and Investment Funds Journal, Volume 5 (2017), Issue 1, Page 53 - 68

The concept of smart specialisation has been applied in France at the regional level in the Research and Innovation Smart Specialisation Strategies (RIS3), in changing national and regional contexts and with highly different innovation ecosystems. The process of designing the RIS3 gave every region an opportunity to set out and clarify its specific characteristics, assets and positioning in terms of innovation. It also enables the regions to adopt an entrepreneurial discovery approach which mobilises the region’s innovation ecosystem, based on a shared strategy. Designing a strategy, however, is only a first stage in carrying out a successful smart specialisation process. This process is meant to cover the entire 2014-2020 programming period and there are still many stages to go through to ensure that these strategies benefit to French regions and that their impacts are harnessed locally. The impacts of RIS3, which are integrated in a broader policy framework in the field of research and innovation, will also depend on how strongly linked they are to other European policies (such as ESIF programmes, Horizon 2020, COSME, etc.), but also national policies (such as Investment programme for the future, the new industrial France, clusters policies, the New Deal for Innovation, etc.) and regional policies. This is obviously a long term changing process that will take time to produce its full benefits for the regional innovation and economic ecosystems, as well as for the territories and their inhabitants. It is therefore early to assess the real impacts and value added of smart specialisation. Nevertheless, looking ahead in terms of the overall smart specialisation approach, some conclusions and questions can be highlighted for this policy in a post-2020 perspective.

Smart Specialisation in 2014-2020 ESI Funds Programmes: Not Just a Narrative journal article

Laura Polverari

European Structural and Investment Funds Journal, Volume 5 (2017), Issue 1, Page 20 - 31

This article explores the way in which Smart Specialisation has been integrated in the programming and implementation of the ESIF Operational Programmes of countries and regions which are partners in the IQ-Net Network – a network for improving the quality of Structural Funds programme management through exchange of experience. It discusses the design of Smart Specialisation Strategies through entrepreneurial discovery, the implementation of the strategies as part of the ESIF programmes, and the lessons learnt so far. It shows that the Smart Specialisation approach, albeit not novel in all cases, is considered on the whole as useful and to have contributed to better prioritisation and more joined-up policy-making. However, these are still early days and success will rest on effective implementation. This will require on-going engagement with stakeholders, to test and refine the validity of assumptions and choices made, and above all continued political endorsement to support cross-sectoral working and hold the private sector to account on their commitments to the strategy. The focus should now be placed on ensuring that implementation rises to the challenge and that adequate support is provided to regional and national authorities and to all types of stakeholders, throughout the life of the ESIF programmes, to allow them to continue to drive the Smart Specialisation approach through.

Smart Specialisation, a Strategy to Support the Transformation of a Consolidated Manufacturing System – The Emilia-Romagna Experience journal article

Silvano Bertini

European Structural and Investment Funds Journal, Volume 5 (2017), Issue 1, Page 32 - 43

Emilia-Romagna is a strong manufacturing region aiming to regenerate the roots of its competitiveness in the framework of the knowledge and innovation economy. Following the Smart Specialisation approach, the effort is twofold: consolidating existing fundamental clusters by introducing Key Enabling Technologies (KETs) in their knowledge basis and innovation processes; and fostering the emergence of new, highly innovative industrial systems, able to attract new qualified employment. The regional approach is highly systemic, not oriented to single niche industries, but geared towards complex and integrated clusters around common themes. Emilia-Romagna’s Smart Specialisation Strategy represents an ambitious effort to position a manufacturing system on the frontier of the new social needs.

The State of Play with the Approval of Regional Smart Specialisation Strategies in the EU journal article

Overview of Progress with Implementation and Lessons Learnt

Georgios Peroulakis

European Structural and Investment Funds Journal, Volume 5 (2017), Issue 1, Page 12 - 19

The 2014-2020 ESIF programmes marked an important turn on results-orientation and resource-concentration in areas where a competitive advantage is identified and critical mass can be built. The objective is clear: to create investment which can produce a higher impact in terms of smart, sustainable and inclusive growth and jobs. With regard to smart growth, Research and Innovation Strategies for Smart Specialisation (RIS3s) are paving the way for the economic transformation of EU regions based on knowledge and innovation. By being one of the many ex-ante conditionalities, the Smart specialisation strategies are embedded in the new operational programmes of assistance to the European regions. Bottom-up decisions were facilitated by introducing the entrepreneurial discovery process (EDP) in the design cycle. This made effective the collaboration between Triple/Quadruple Helix actors in the adoption of the RIS3s and the design of the OPs and calls in a majority of EU Regions. The conceptual, regulatory and programming phases took quite a long time but now, at around half way into the 2014-2020 period, we enter in to the implementation stage. Over 120 Smart specialisation strategies have been submitted to the European Commission during the negotiations of operational programmes establishing priorities and allocating funds at national or regional level. Allocations of circa €40 billion from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) will mobilise an estimated amount of circa €250 billion to support the RIS3s, including other ESI Funds, national and regional public funds, private investments, resources from Horizon2020, COSME and the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI) – Investment Plan for Europe. What really matters now is to proceed with the implementation, so as to transform strategies into projects, not allowing sliding back into “business as usual”. The credibility of the Smart specialisation concept and of the EU Institutions that promoted it is at stake as is the future development of EU Regions

Smart Specialisation Concepts and Significance of Early Positive Signals journal article open-access

Dimitrios Kyriakou

European Structural and Investment Funds Journal, Volume 5 (2017), Issue 1, Page 4 - 11

We emphasise the need of keeping in mind the definition/focus of the smart specialisation strategy (S3) approach regarding place-based regional economic transformation, as well as the importance of avoiding both the Charybdis of top-down dirigisme, and the Scylla of hands-off handicapped government. Short-termism should be avoided for transformation processes; nevertheless, there are certain visible first steps and first fruits in a long regional economic transformation process can be highlighted (such as compliance with ex-ante conditionalities, strategy production, administrative innovation, revisiting compartmentalisation, etc.). An additional promising development regards the attractiveness of S3 as a more generally transposable policy framework, applicable in other policy areas, as well as the global interest, far beyond the EU, that is being shown in the S3 process/concept. At the same time, one must beware of longer-term, deeper caveats regarding top-down temptations, simplistic one-size-fits-all recipes, and issues of participation/representation-giving voice to the voiceless.