“Science meets Regions” Call for expression of interest

The European Commission’s science and knowledge service, the Joint Research Centre (JRC), has launched a call for expression of interest for the “Science meets Regions” preparatory action. The call focuses on territorial development at the subnational level, with regions and cities as the main target audience. Applicants can apply in this call for financial, methodological and/or scientific support from the JRC for projects that will advance evidence-based policymaking at the subnational level.

The call for expressions of interest will concern the following main work packages:

  • Innovation camps and participatory events for single regions and cities, focusing on specific policy topics
  • Networking initiatives for consortia of regions and/or cities on issues of common concern.

The topics covered by the call can be related to any of the six broad priorities of the current European Commission. But the topics of the Green and Digital Transition and Recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic will have priority in this call.

Science meets Regions

“Science meets regions” is the Joint Research Centre’s project to enhance evidence-based policymaking at the subnational level of governance across Europe. It uses a bottom-up approach, giving cities, regions and territories ownership of the topic and the process, while the JRC provides the financial and methodological support.


The focus of the call is on the subnational level.

For applications involving single regions and cities, only public sector bodies at NUTS2 level or below (including cities and municipalities) are eligible to apply. The main partner must be a public authority, but partnerships with academic and research institutions are encouraged.

For the multiregional strand involving networks of regions and cities, one partner from a public sector body at NUTS2 level will act as a lead partner and will involve at least 3 partners from at least 2 EU Member states.

More details on eligibility requirements can be found in the guide for applicants.

Deadline, Application and Questions:

Expressions of interest can be submitted by 17 September 2021.

To read more and to find the guidelines for applicants and the application forms, go to this page: https://ec.europa.eu/jrc/en/science-meets-regions/call-expression-interest.

Any questions can be sent to: JRC-INFO-SMR@EC.EUROPA.EU

National Recovery and Resilience Plan Submitted

The Irish Government announced its completion of the National Recovery and Resilience Plan (NRRP) on 28 May 2021. Although the full plan is not yet publicly available and is still subject to approval by the European Commission, a summary of the first draft of the NRRP was published on 1st June 2021.  The Department of Public Expenditure and Reform will be publishing additional information on the NRRP in due course.

The NRRP in Ireland was drafted alongside the Economic Recovery Plan and includes projects with a value of up to €1 billion. The NRRP will enable Ireland to access the EU Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF), which is a central component of NextGenerationEU, the European Union’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. For the period 2021-2022, Ireland is expected to receive approximately €915 million in grants, with further grants being allocated in 2023.

Public consultation

Ireland was one of a small number of Member States that held a public consultation on the content of their NRRP. There was a short consultation period from 2nd to 22nd February 2021 where local and regional authorities in Ireland were invited and did participate in this consultation.

Read more about the public consultation call in our post from February.

Content of the NRRP for Ireland

The plan is split into a set of 16 investments and 9 reform commitments that are structured around three priority areas.

  • Priority 1: Advancing the Green Transition. Seven investments will be undertaken within this priority area with a total value of €503 million.
  • Priority 2: Accelerating and expanding digital reforms and transformation. This priority area will see six investments undertaken to at total value of €295 million.
  • Priority 3: Social and economic recovery and job creation. A total value of €181 million will be invested into this priority area through three investment programmes.

Projects in the national plan cover the entire lifetime of the EU RRF until 2026. The plan proposes projects in all seven European flagship areas.

Next steps

Ireland’s National Recovery and Resilience Plan is currently under review at the EU level. The European Commission has 2 months to assess Ireland’s NRRP and make a recommendation to the Council of the European Union. The Council will then have four weeks to adopt the Commission proposal for a Council Implementing Decision.


The summary of the first draft of the NRRP can be found here: www.gov.ie/en/publication/d4939-national-recovery-and-resilience-plan-2021/.

Interreg NWE Networking Event

Interreg North-West Europe (Interreg NWE) will be holding a networking event on 22nd June 2021 from 10:00-12:30 CET (9:00-11:30 Irish time).

This event will focus on an innovative and inclusive NWE. Interactive sessions during the event will give an opportunity to:

  • Learn more about the impact of NWE projects
  • Network with other stakeholders working in your field
  • Know more about the future NWE programme.

Project partners in NWE and from other Interreg programmes, decision-makers at EU, national, regional and local levels are all invited to participate. All potential applicants in future programmes are equally welcomed to partake.

This will be the second Interreg NWE online networking event. The first event took place on 20th May and focused on the “Greener NWE”. The presentations and recordings from this event will be available on this website shortly.

Hosting a round table

During this event, participants will have the opportunity to host their own virtual round tables to present project results, exchange on needs and challenges, look for synergies, or discuss a project idea for the future programme. If you wish to host a virtual round table, you are invited to briefly describe the topic of your presentation in the registration form. Organisers will contact you after 14th June to inform you if your proposal was selected or not.

Registration and Agenda

Here you will find a detailed agenda.

Registration is free but it is compulsory to register ahead of the event via the registration form.

Deadline to register is 14th June at 12:00 noon CET (11:00am Irish time).


More information is available here: www.nweurope.eu/news-events/events/nwe-networking-events/.

The Conference Kicks Off

The Conference on the Future of Europe was officially launched across EU on Europe Day, May 9th 2021, at a hybrid ceremony in Strasbourg which featured some of EU’s top leaders.

This year-long Conference will consist of debates and discussions in various forms with the citizens of Europe. It seeks to give citizens from across Europe a greater say in shaping the future of Europe’s policies. Conclusions and outcomes of the Conference should be reached by spring 2022.

Voice of the CoR at the launch

Providing contributions at the launch event, Cllr Kieran McCarthy debated for the close involvement of local and regional authorities through the Committee of the Regions (CoR) stating that “the CoR has the institutional weight, accuracy, experience, passion, wisdom, sincerity and the connection tools to make the wider Conference on the Future of Europe work”.

During the May plenary session of the CoR, a declaration on the Future of Europe was adopted calling for a permanent dialogue with citizens as established in Cllr McDonnell’s opinion from October 2020.

The Future Is Yours

The Department of Foreign Affairs with European Movement Ireland also held an event on Friday, May 14th to launch Irish involvement in the Conference. At the Irish launch, Taoiseach Micheál Martin T.D. provided welcoming remarks and there were contributions from Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister for Defence, Simon Coveney T.D. and European Commissioner for Financial services, financial stability and Capital Markets Union, Miread McGuiness. This was followed by contributions from youth representatives and a discussion with Thomas Byrne T.D., Minister of State for European Affairs and Emily O’Reilly, European Ombudsman.

The principal message at this event was to encourage active and inclusive engagement with Irish and other EU citizens living across the island of Ireland. Speakers urged ALL citizens – young people, people living in border regions, Irish diaspora living across Europe, everyone – to have their say in the Conference. As Miread McGuinness stated at the event, “You have a chance to shape Europe. Now grasp it!”

Link to a recording of the event: www.europeanmovement.ie/launch-of-the-conference-on-the-future-of-europe-in-ireland/.

How to get involved in the Conference

The digital platform futureu.europa.eu was launched on April 19th and is a major component of the Conference. This multilingual tool will be used by citizens of Europe to share ideas and send online submissions. It is also possible to organise and find events near you, share your thoughts, see what others are saying, and follow the progress and outcome of the Conference.

Read more about the Conference on this page on the Digital platform.

To get involved in the Irish component, please email conference@europeanmovement.ie.

Follow updates with #FutureOfEurope and #IrelandCoFoE.

Recap of 144th CoR Plenary meeting

The 144th CoR plenary took place between 5th and 7th May 2021. As always, the meeting was filled with timely discussions and the Irish Members represented the position of Ireland’s LRAs in important debates on the Union of Equality, EU Health Union, achieving climate neutrality and digitalisation.

Our Members were particularly active during the debate on Future of Europe, which took place with participation from Mr Herman Van Rompuy, the Chair of the CoR High Level Group on European Democracy. Cllr Declan McDonnell called for permanent citizen consultations and highlighted the need for a ‘’pan-EU network led by the Committee of the Regions to channel citizens’ input, act as a hub for knowledge and experience and coordinate feedback’’. His words were further mirrored by Cllr Kieran McCarthy, who spoke about the great need for the Conference to be an inclusive exercise that empowers the regions for the success of the whole EU. Cllr Una Power also stated that ‘’all voices must be at the table’’ and that the Conference must ‘’embed diversity and inclusion in all work going forward’’.

On 6th May, Cllr Gillian Coughlan presented her draft opinion on the EU Digital Education Plan 2021-2027. The opinion highlighted, among others, the importance of digital literacy, critical infrastructures and connectivity in achieving inclusive education systems across the EU. Cllr Coughlan, who is also a practicing teacher, further emphasised that ‘’it is essential to put in place digital infrastructure that will give all students and teachers equal changes to prosper and develop their skills’’. Her opinion was adopted by majority.

Ireland was further represented during the Plenary by Cllr Michael Murphy, Head of the Irish Delegation, who chaired the discussions on the second day of Plenary. For the first time, an Irish Member took the chair to moderate the debates on the day to ensure the smooth running of CoR’s business in important debates with representatives from the European Commission, European Parliament, as well as other multi-level stakeholders.

Further to the above, lively and animated debates on the following topics took place:

  • Union of Equality – in debate with Commissioner Helena Dalli
  • Recovery in the Tourism, Hotel and Catering Sector
  • Debate on the Portuguese Presidency of the Council of the EU with Antonio Costa, Prime Minister of Portugal
  • Debate on cooperation with the European Parliament with David Sassoli, President of the EP.

A number of opinions, amongst others, were also adopted during the plenary:

  • The Implementation of the EU Pillar of Social Rights
  • A Union of Equality: EU anti-racism action plan 2020-2025
  • A Union of Equality: Strategy on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities 2021-2030
  • Experiences and lessons learned by regions and cities during the COVID-19 crisis
  • European Health Union: Reinforcing the EU’s resilience
  • Europe’s pharmaceutical strategy and legislative proposal for changing the mandate of the European Medical Agency
  • Powering a climate-neutral economy: an EU strategy for Energy System Integration
  • Media in the Digital Decade: An Action Plan

The Plenary will reconvene on 30th June for the last meeting before the Summer break.

URBACT Open Call for a ‘national network’

Now is your chance to get your town or city involved in a national network for better placemaking through playful culture with the Irish National Practice Transfer Initiative (NPTI)!

What is NPTI?

URBACT Transfer Networks operate by allowing lead cities with good practices to share this practice with other European cities. The recently approved National Practice Transfer Initiative (NPTI) will use this successful approach on a national scale. This means that ‘lead’ and ‘follower’ cities in the network will all be in the same country.

The Irish NPTI will see the City of Cork as leading the transfer of good practices they learned on the Playful Paradigm network to five to seven other Irish towns and cities.

Participating cities and towns will have the opportunity through meetings, forums, and observations to develop a playful culture in their location. Being involved in the NPTI will allow participating cities to develop good practice of a playful culture in their town or city for social, environmental and economic benefits.

The network will run from June 2021 to December 2022.

Deadline to apply is May 9th at 5pm.

Playful Paradigm

The URBACT Playful Paradigm focuses on introducing play as a way to address the challenges of urbanisation, ageing, climate change and social exclusion. It provides a structure and framework for playful actions and playful placemaking to foster an appreciation of natural spaces and built places, health and social inclusion.


Only cities that have not participated in phase 2 of URBACT III networks are eligible to participate. However, public authorities who have previously participated in phase 2 of URBACT III networks are eligible to participate, as long as the proposed beneficiary city has not already participated.

For further information on the call

There will be a national Transfer Networks sharing event on April 29th to highlight the benefits of participating in URBACT and to showcase the results of Irish partners. Check out this page for more information on this event and how to register.

Read more about this call and how to apply.

Completed applications and any questions can be sent to mbrennan@emra.ie.

URBACT successes in Ireland

National Practice Transfer Initiative

Urbact Transfer Networks operate by allowing a lead city with a documented good practice to share this practice with other European cities. This approach has transferred good practices from 23 lead cities to 156 follower cities around Europe.

With this success, the National Practice Transfer Initiative (NPTI) will use a similar approach but the lead and follower cities will all be in the same country. Under NPTI, the lead city will be one that has already participated in a Transfer Network under the current URBACT III. Follower cities must be towns and cities that have not yet benefited from URBACT.

Under this new initiative, the Eastern and Midland Regional Assembly (EMRA) has successfully applied to coordinate the NPTI in Ireland, as announced on 9 March 2021. Cork was selected as the Irish lead city and five to seven follower cities will be selected though an open selection process between March and June 2021. Once follower cities have been secured, the network will run from June 2021-December 2022.

Check out this page on how to get involved and for more information.

SDG Localisation Network

The UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) form an internationally-recognised framework for the transition to a low carbon, socially equitable and inclusive world. Using the Urbact model of implementing long-lasting change in urban areas through supported networks, the Urbact Secretariat started the formation of an SDG Localistaion network. The main objective is for pilot cities to exchange, learn from European and international peers, build capacities towards the localisation process of the SDGs in their home territories, and to develop tools and policy recommendations.

From Ireland, Trim has been successful in its application to be part of the SDG Localisation network. This 19-city network will help cities to design an Integrated Action Plan on the localisation of the SDGs and will run from March 2021 to September 2022.


Ireland’s National Urbact contact point: mbrennan@emra.ie

URBACT Transfer Networks – Call for Pilot Projects

Use the URBACT Method to understand, adapt and re-use the Good Practices that were tested in the first round of Transfer Networks!

As the journey of the 23 Transfer Networks comes to an end, URBACT is launching a second wave of projects: a small number of Lead Partner cities will embark on a new transfer journey with a new set of partners.

This second wave of the Transfer Networks will allow more cities in Europe to adapt and reuse the Good Practice. The rich experience of the Good Practice city alongside the expert, who had led the original Transfer Network, will be an added value in this adventure. It is an exciting journey of discovery and sharing which will empower city stakeholders, change the way your city works and have a real impact at local level. All of this is achieved using a tried and tested URBACT method of exchange and learning with tools adapted to your needs and support from experts and peers.

What’s next?
Ireland’s National Urbact Point (NUP) will contact all the Transfer Network Lead Partners to explore opportunities for Irish cities to join this Second Wave.

Questions for the Irish NUP can be sent to mbrennan@emra.ie
General questions related to this call should be addressed to: tn@urbact.eu

Useful documents:
Terms of Reference – Transfer Networks – Second Wave – Application procedure
URBACT III Programme Manual
URBACT III Operational Programme

The deadline for the online submission is 29 April 2021 at 15.00 CET.

Recap of 143th CoR Plenary meeting

The members of the European Committee of the Regions (CoR) have brought the 143rd Plenary meeting to a close. The session was again fully remote and took place on 17, 18 and 19th March.

With the meeting opening on St. Patrick’s Day, the Irish delegation members wasted no time in representing Irish interests during a debate on the pandemic, recovery and European democracy with Charles Michel, President of the European Council. Cllr Kieran McCarthy urged for local communities to be at the heart of the priorities for the Conference on the Future of Europe, stating that “if you empower the regions, the EU will be a success.”

Cllr Deidre Forde

A number of Irish members took the floor during the presentation of an opinion on establishing a Brexit Adjustment Reserve (BAR), stressing that a lot of work needs to be done before it is fit for purpose. Cllr Deidre Forde argued for the “full involvement of regions and local authorities in the planning and implementation of the BAR”.

During the debate on an adequate minimum wage in the EU, Cllr Declan McDonnell expressed the need to recognise the right of everyone “to a decent living from their work” based on upward convergence and “to end wage discrimination”. Cllr Caroline Dwane Stanley and Cllr Aoife Breslin expanded on the need to work towards a proper minimum wage to one which values work, lifts people out of poverty, creates a more inclusive society and closes the gender pay gap.

The second day of meetings started with a celebration of European entrepreneurship with the European Entrepreneurial Region (EER) Award Ceremony. The EER label of excellence is awarded by the CoR to regions who have shown outstanding and innovative entrepreneurial policy strategies. The 2021-22 EER winning regions were: Castelo Branco Municipality (Portugal), Gabrovo Municipality (Bulgaria), Helsinki-Uusimaa Region (Finland), Madrid Region (Spain), Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur (France) and Silesia Voivodeship (Poland), with a “special mention” to Vukovar-Srijem County, Croatia.

Watch a video of the EER winner regions. You can also read more about each region in this press release.

Further to these points, lively debates on the following topics took place:

  • COVID-19 Pandemic with Stella Kyriakides, Commissioner for Health and Food Safety
  • Trade and EU Recovery
  • Financing and delivering the Renovation Wave in regions, cities and villages with Kadri Simson, Commissioner for Energy
  • Integration of migrants and the fight against radicalisation with Ylva Johansson, Commissioner for Home Affairs​

The following opinions were also discussed and adopted during the 3-day meeting:

  • New pact on migration and asylum
  • Achieving the European Education Area by 2025
  • A new approach to the Atlantic Maritime Strategy – Atlantic Action Plan 2.0
  • Regulation on establishing a Brexit Adjustment Reserve
  • Action plan on critical raw materials
  • Trade policy review
  • Renovation Wave for Europe – Greening our buildings, creating jobs, improving lives

The plenary closed with a discussion of EU matters for local and regional authorities focusing on the coordinated management of borders during the pandemic and the decline of city centres and promotion of SMEs.


The SEUPB has launched a public consultation for the new PEACE PLUS Programme (2021-2027).

What is the PEACE PLUS Programme?

A hybrid of the PEACE and INTERREG Programmes, PEACE PLUS will continue to support activities that contribute towards a prosperous and stable society in Northern Ireland and the border counties of Ireland, including activities that promote peace and reconciliation and contribute to the cross border economic and territorial development of the region.

The PEACE PLUS Programme was developed through a stakeholder engagement process, which took place between December 2019 and February 2020. A total of 16 public events were held across the programme area, with over 1,000 people in attendance. Over 300 survey responses were submitted. An infographic summarising the PEACE PLUS consultation process can be found here.

Responding to the Consultation

SEUPB recommends reading the Consultation Information Document and supporting documents, including the Equality Screening exercise and the Strategic Environmental Assessment in advance of completing the survey to help the understanding of the proposed Programme Strategy.

Full information on the programme (including the consultation information document and a link to the survey) is available here.

The consultation started on Wednesday 10 March 2021 and will close at 5pm on Wednesday 12 May 2021.

You can find a copy of the PEACE PLUS Privacy Notice for this survey here.

For further information SEUPB can be contacted on 0044 28 9026 6660 (office reception number) or email PEACEPLUS@seupb.eu.