Update: Interreg Europe

The second call for Interreg project proposals is will open from the 15th of March until the 9th of June 2023.

Interreg projects seek to bring together policy organisations from at least three different countries in the 27 EU Member States as well as Norway and Switzerland. Over the course of four years, the policy organisations are given the funding and support to learn from each other and work together on a shared policy issue.

In the lead up to the second call Interreg Europe have organised a number of online events, with each session being dedicated to a different topic:

The lessons learned lead to the improvement of regional policies and a more sustainable economic, social and environmental impact on the ground in the local and regional areas the projects stem from.

Update: Interreg North-West Europe

Interreg NWE fosters transnational cooperation to make the region a key economic player and an attractive place to work and live, with high levels of innovation, sustainability and cohesion.

The second call for Interreg North-West Europe (NEW) is open until the 9th of February 2023.

The Interreg NWE programme is seeking to fund projects under the five priority areas:

PRIORITY 1: Climate and environment

PRIORITY 2: Energy transition

PRIORITY 3: Circular economy

PRIORITY 4: Innovation and resilience

PRIORITY 5: Inclusive society

If you want to find out more about any of these five priorities and the nine specific objectives that accompany them, you can do so here. There’s also information about  call 2 key points of information including final terms of reference.

Interreg North-West Europe is open to all Irish regions. The Application form is available here.

If you wish to find out more about the programme contact Ireland’s national contact point, Sarah Davoren at sdavoren@southernassembly.ie

Update: Interreg Northern Periphery and Arctic Programme

The second call for projects for the Interreg Northern Periphery and Arctic (NPA) has now closed. It is foreseen that there will be two calls in 2023, with a call for preparatory projects in February/March 2023 and the third call taking place in April / May 2023.

The Interreg NPA Monitoring Committee is looking to fund projects in the following priorities:

  • PRIORITY 1: Strengthening the innovation capacity for resilient and attractive NPA communities
  • PRIORITY 2: Strengthening the capacity for climate change adaptation, and resource sufficiency in NPA communities
  • PRIORITY 3: Strengthening the organisational capacity among NPA communities to make use of cooperation opportunities. Within this priority, the programme is especially seeking to engage young people in cooperation

The Northern Periphery and Arctic Programme is open to the entire Northern and Western region.

Applications for the Northern Periphery and Arctic Programme are submitted via the Jems platform, a user guide for the platform is available here.

If you want to find out more about the programme contact Ireland’s new National Contact Point, Travis O’Doherty at todoherty@nwra.ie .

Update: Interreg Atlantic Area

The first call for projects for the Interreg Atlantic Area is now open! The call will remain open until the 17th of February 2023.

The Interreg Atlantic Area is seeking projects under four thematic priorities:

  1. Blue innovation and competitiveness (Smarter Europe)
  2. Blue and green environment (Greener Europe)
  3. Blue sustainable tourism and culture (Social Europe)
  4. A better governance for cooperation (Interreg objective)

To find out more about these priorities as well as eligibility and assessment criteria check out the programme manual. The secretariat has also prepared a webinar on financial reporting criteria available here.

Interreg Atlantic Area is open to all Irish regions.

If you wish to find out more about the programme contact Ireland’s national contact point, Travis O’Doherty at todoherty@nwra.ie.

Round up of 152nd CoR Plenary

The Committee of the Regions (CoR) held its 152nd plenary session from the 30th of November until the 1st of December. Marking the final plenary session of the year, the agenda was packed with opinions and debates, with Ireland making key contributions throughout, the highlight of which being the adoption of Cllr. Kieran McCarthy’s opinion.

The first of the two day plenary session featured debates on several CoR opinions. These included debates on; extending the list of EU crimes to hate speech and hate crimes, the EU strategy for sustainable circular economy and textiles, and reform of geographical indicators.

A highlight of day one was Irish delegation member Cllr. Una Power making a thoughtful and well received contribution on the opinion concerning the safeguarding of food security and the resilience of food security.

The second day of plenary began with a closing debate on the European Year of Youth and the formal adoption of the European Charter on Youth and Democracy. Contributions throughout the debate noted the need for 2022 to act as a catalyst for further involvement of youth voices within European policy making.

Following the debate on the European Year of Youth, head of delegation Cllr. Michael Murphy chaired an engaging debate on enhancing cohesion policy support for regions with geographic and demographic handicaps.

Cllr. Kieran McCarthy’s opinion “Small urban areas as key actors to manage a just transition” followed. The opinion won unanimous support from CoR members and was subsequently adopted. The opinion focuses on small urban areas which are home to 43% of the EU population. A key call made by Cllr. McCarthy in the opinion is a call for Member States to promote fiscal incentives linked to empty housing units so as to support access to affordable housing in order to attract citizens to settle and establish their lives in shrinking small places.

The plenary session was rounded out with two resolutions on the CoR political priorities for 2023 and the European Year of Skills 2023. Followed by a couple of debates on EU local matters and a debate on the energy crisis and consequences for European households.

The next plenary session will take place on the 8th and 9th of February 2023.

EMRA study visit to Brussels

The Eastern and Midland Regional Assembly (EMRA) undertook a two-day study visit to Brussels. The study visit found the delegation of seven Councillors and EMRA Director, Jim Conway, undertaking a packed two-day itinerary of policy lectures and meetings.

The first day saw the Assembly members meeting with Fionnuala Bourke, First Secretary in the Irish Permanent Representation to the EU about Cohesion Policy as well Ellen McCaffery, a secondee from the Northern Irish Executive. They discussed their role within the EU Council and how Ireland is represented and works with EU Member States on securing the best outcome for Ireland in EU Cohesion funding.   The group also met with Justin Sammon and his colleagues from the Assembly of European Regions and they outlined the benefits of membership of the network, as well as many of the successes of AER, including a recent summer school in Donegal.

In the afternoon, the Councillors made their way to the European Parliament to meet with a number of Irish MEPs. Barry Andrews MEP kicked off the meetings with an overview of his work on the Trade Committee as well as on EU / UK relations and his recent work on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).

Following this, the Councillors met MEP Ciaran Cuffe who discussed his work on the Transport Committee, as well as his opinion on the buildings energy directive. During this meeting, MEP Sean Kelly also joined, who is acting as shadow rapporteur on the buildings energy directive. Both MEPs gave Councillors an insight into the policy making process and finding consensus on this issue.

The Councillors were next joined by MEP Billy Kelleher, who offered an update on his work on the ECON committee.  He also discussed agricultural policy and the impact which various trade deals may have on the Irish agricultural economy.

Finally, the Councillors rounded out a busy first day by meeting MEP Colm Markey, who discussed his work on EU agricultural policy, and MEP Deirdre Clune for an update on her work on the internal market.

The second day of the Assembly’s visit found them meeting with Ciaran Delargy, First Secretary at the Irish Permanent Representation to the UK with a responsibility for Brexit. Ciaran offered the Councillors an update on EU/UK relations and the current state of the Brexit negotiations.

Sandra Cavallo from the European Commission was next to meet the group and she provided a presentation the European Commission’s new initiative, the ‘Building Europe with Local Councillors’ Network.

Finally, the group made their way to IBEC’s newly opened offices for lunch with Jackie King, Executive Director, IBEC Global. She provided an excellent overview of the latest trends in the Irish economy and the impact of global events on the Irish economy.  The group concluded their trip with a meeting with Grainne Ryan the EU liaison for research and innovation at Enterprise Ireland who provided an overview of how local authorities can become involved in funding opportunities in Horizon Europe.

Round up of 151st COR Plenary

The Committee of the Regions (CoR) held its 151st plenary session on the 11th and 12th of October. The plenary session coincided with the European Week of Cities and Regions, a key date within the CoR calendar. The plenary session itself had a packed agenda and an array of opinions to be voted upon.

Starting with the formal opening of the European Week of Cities and Regions on Monday the 10th of October in the European Parliament’s hemicycle. The plenary week placed a spotlight on the power of harnessing local and regional governance.

The power of harnessing local and regional governance was clear in Irish delegation member Cllr. Alison Gilliland’s opinion ‘Towards a structural inclusion of Cities and Regions in UNFCCC COP27’. The opinion, which was approved by plenary, sought to state the importance of incorporating local voices within COP27 in order to ensure long term ‘buy-in’ for any climate policy measures.

The Irish delegation was well represented within the plenary session, with Cllr. Una Power and Cllr. Kieran McCarthy delivering strong addresses for The Greens and the European Alliance respectively. The plenary session also found the head of delegation Cllr. Michael Murphy chairing a debate on the Revised Schengen Area Governance.

Elsewhere, the plenary session also included opinions on protecting industrial and craft geographical indications in the EU, Just and sustainable transition in the context of the coal and energy intensive regions as well as an opinion on the European Chips Act to strengthen the European semiconductor ecosystem.

The final plenary session of the year will take place on the first week in December.

Round up of 150th CoR Plenary

The Committee of the Regions (CoR) held its first post-covid fully in-person meeting on the 29th and 30th June 2022. The meeting marked the half way point in the current mandate for the CoR and saw the election of Portugal’s Vasco Alves Cordeiro as President following the end of President Apostolos Tzitzikostas’ two and half year term in office.

The mandate also saw Irish delegation members being elected to new roles with Cllr. Kate Feeney being elected as Third Vice President of Renew Europe’s CoR delegation and Cllr. Kieran McCarthy as Vice President of European Alliance group.

The session itself saw a number of important debates on proposed opinions, with strong Irish contributions throughout. Topics covered include: The EU Enlargement Package 2021, Revision of the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD) and the implementation of green budgets at local and regional levels.

Given Russia’s unprovoked and unprecedented attack on Ukraine the EU Enlargement Package debate saw several impassioned contributions from the floor. Members spoke of EU values and the need to support Ukraine as they fight to defend principles of democracy. During his contribution, Cllr. Kieran McCarthy noted that enlargement is “the strongest possible endorsement of the values we hold dear”.

The second day of plenary opened with the debate on the Revision of the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD). Following a contribution from rapporteur André Viola, Irish MEP Ciaran Cuffe outlined the importance of the EPBD in the context of a cost of living and energy crisis.

The plenary session was drawn to a close with a series of debates on topics including: Priorities on the forthcoming Czech Presidency of the Council of the European Union, the launch of the Automotive Regions Alliance and the launch of the European Alliance of Cities and Regions for the Reconstruction of Ukraine.

The next plenary session is set to take place in October 2022.

Registration Open – Assembly of European Regions Summer School

The Assembly of European Regions in partnership with Donegal County Council and Údarás na Gaeltachta will host their flagship 2022 Summer Academy event from the 29th of August until the 1st of September.

Marking fifty years since Ireland voted to join the European Community, the event will focus on topics that will shape the next fifty years such as the Covid-19 pandemic, the climate crisis and the war in Ukraine. Such topics as big, existential questions about what Europe stands for, and what future we shape for the next generation.

Building on this, the theme this year focuses on how young people in our regions can be empowered to answer these questions, and shape “A Europe for the Next Generation”. As Europe looks to build back better, this year’s programme will focus on key topics such as climate change, skills and education, cross-border and transnational cohesion and reconciliation, remote working and entrepreneurship.

Through debates, workshops and excursions the programme will explore how regions are best placed to ensure young people lay the building blocks for a peaceful, prosperous and sustainable future for all.

Additionally, participants will also be given the opportunity to Derry City to learn about the Peace Process, take-in spectacular scenery on Inis Eoin island and Glenveagh National Park, visit the region’s unique rural innovation hubs.

To find out more and to register for the event click here.

Building Europe – Call for Applications

The European Commission has launched a call for applications for local authorities wishing to become partners in communicating the EU as part of the “Building Europe with Local Councillors” network.

The aim of the partnership is to help and encourage local representatives to present EU policies, actions and initiatives objectively and in clear, understandable language to their constituents. The aim is to promote discussion and debate about these European policies, actions and initiatives at a grassroots, citizen level.

A local authority that chooses to take part in the “Building Europe with Local Councillors” network will appoint one locally elected councillor as a member of the network. The authority will also sign a declaration in which the local authority agrees to make the following commitments:

  • Engage regularly in discussions and debate with members of their constituency or local media about the general political initiatives and measures conducted by the EU.
  • Present EU policies, actions and initiatives objectively, based on accurate and trustworthy information.
  • Take part in the day-to-day operations of the network by participating in the online platform, attending seminars and visits offered by the European Commission.

In order to support the local councillors and their authorities in communicating Europe, the European Commission will provide:

  • Communication materials and a regular information updates to help them engage with citizens on EU issues.
  • Access to priority visits of the European Commission Visitors’ Centre in Brussels, physical or digital.
  • Access to an interactive platform to foster interaction with other members of the network.
  • Information about other EU initiatives dedicated to local councillors and local authorities, including in particular the activities of the Committee of the Regions and its Network of Regional and Local EU Councillors, and opportunities to follow and contribute to their activities.

If your local authority is interested in taking part, or wants to find out more click here.