For more than a decade and a half, the federal state of Lower Saxon y has participated in the Eu-ropean Week of Regions and Cit ies (EWRC), and in that time much has changed. In 2005, the event was still called ?Open Days?, and 66 workshops and sem inars were held to help Member St at es and regions prepare for the new generation of Structural Funds programmes and instru-ments for 2007?2013.
Since then, the EWRC has developed qualitatively and quantitatively. Fortunately, even the coro-navirus crisis was unable to stop it: last year it was held online for the first time and set new rec-ords, with a total of 520 workshops and conferences and more than 12 000 participants.
In recent year s, Lower Saxon y has organised workshops and panel discussions with its long-standing partners, in particular with Abruzzo (It aly), Lower Silesia (Poland), North Netherlands and Ham pshire (United Kingdom ), on topics such as cross-border cooperation, circular econom y, op-timising cohesion policy and digitalisation.
At this year 's # EURegionsWeek, Lower Saxon y and its European partner regions are host ing a panel discussion ent it led ?Gr een Regions 4EU?. Innovative approaches for clim ate protection and for the sustainable transformation of our regions will be presented. A central instrument for ad-vancing clim ate protection and clim ate adaptation in the regions is EU structural funding.
Lower Saxon y has very recently launched the em ergency programme ?Inner City Perspective!?with REACT EU funds. Until 2023, over 200 m unicipalit ies can apply for project s t o address t he coronavirus cr isis in their town centres. It is very important that cities prepare for the future. There-fore, it is essent ial that they provide proof of clim ate protection benefits in their applications.
In addition, for the first time, Lower Saxon y has drawn up a joint strategy with stakeholders to prepare for the new EU funding period from 2021 in the ERDF, ESF and EAFRD. Lower Saxon y will receive just under EUR 1.059 billion. This is around EUR 81 million more than in the 2014?2020 funding period. One of the three overall objectives for the new programme period is ?Lower Saxon y invests in its environment and in clim ate protection?. In this sense, the future Lower Saxon y ERDF programmes ?Resilient Inner Cit ies?and ?Regions of the Future in Lower Saxony? will enable important m easures for clim ate protection and clim ate adaptation in the region's inner cities and rural areas.
Lower Saxon y w ant s t o cont inue t he EWRC t radit ion, says Birgit Honé, Lower Saxony?s Minister for Federal and European Affairs and Regional Developm ent. Honé explains, ?On the one hand, the EWRC offers very good opportunities for exchanging exam ples of best practice at expert level. On the other hand, networking at the political level on the sidelines is an important elem ent that contributes significantly to the su ccess of the EWRC.?
Lars Koenig, Policy Advisor, Ministry for Federal & European Affairs and Regional Development of Lower Saxony,
Representation of Lower Saxony to the EU).