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Leaping from a primary to a quaternary sector in a rural EU border area

Lucia Huert as

Brussels is all about interaction and cooperation. This applies to all EU actors and stakeholders, but particularly to regions and their representations before the European institutions.

We, regional offices, must identify all available opportunities, and guide our regional administrations and stakeholders to m ake the most of them. To do that effectively, networking is key.

We focus our action at the heart of the EU interinstitutional decision-m aking process. We follow closely what the European Commission proposes and monitor what the European Parliam ent and the Council of the EU debate and adopt, trying to influence the life cycle of European legislation with a clear im pact on our territory. In addition, we analyse the different EU funding programmes and the opportunities they offer to transform ideas into reality.

We always try to m ake full use of our EU membership, by doing our best to participate and contribute to the making and implementation of EU legislation. Our scope of interest is huge, sam e as the landscape of the EU actors, channels and m eetings. We have a wide range of policies, programmes and initiatives of interest with an im pact in our regions.

In this overwhelm ing overview, Regional Policy is, obviously, our priority, and # EURegion sWeek is t he place t o be.

It is more than an event. Ever y year during four intense days, # EURegion sWeek offers a large cooperation platform. During this week, cities and regions display their best practices and their EU cohesion policy investm ents, highlighting what works and what does not, and bringing proposals to overcom e those obst acles. Regions and cities, together with many other territorial stakeholders, appear as key partners to EU institutions to ensure that we all meet the EU objectives of this enormous investm ent policy, never giving up on stressing the importance of the involvem ent of local and regional levels for efficient implementation and spending.

,,It is m ore t han an event . Ever y year dur ing f our int ense days, #EURegionsWeek of f er sa lar ge cooperat ion plat f or m,,

There are many actors involved that are potentially interested in or affected by the EU Regional Policy. # EURegion sWeek offers a meeting place that is open to all, beyond the so-called Brussels bubble. Since the very first editions known then as Open Days, this initiative has achieved its own branding, reaching out to the territories and the actors on the ground, including final beneficiaries. This is done at all levels, from politicians to technical staff and civil society, among others.

The organization and participation criteria have evolved over the year s, with increasing opportunities for engagem ent, with more demanding standards regarding the quality of the content and presentations, and in relation to the dynam ism of events and the interaction with the public. There is alw ays a rem arkable effort from t he European Com m it t ee of t he Regions and DG REGIO t eam s to improve year after year, listening to and assessin g what went wrong and how to better utilise the different events and tools available. The first ever digit al edit ion in 2020 w as a real challenge, but despite the COVID-19 pandemic it worked!

The participation of the Region of Murcia has varied widely over the year s. The themes chosen have been diverse, focusing on the m anagem ent of the Structural Funds or the im pact of these funds on innovation, entrepreneurship, act ive ageing or communicating science. However, two special s rem ain at the top of my list.

,,Th ese days are an oppor t unit yto ex plain your view s, lear nf rom ot her s and f ind new EU par t ner s.,,

In 2017, the European Commission RegioSt ar s Awards, a yearly competition acknowledging the most inspiring and innovative projects with a real im pact on people?s lives, recognised the Region of Murcia. A project supporting the labour insertion of women victim s of gender-based violence won the jury and the online votes. The 2018 edition again rewarded a regional project, this time focusing on labour integration and social inclusion of refugees.

Both projects, co-financed by the European Social Fund and led by the regional employment ser vice together with NGOs show how the combination of EU support and the coordination of the regional and local institutions, NGOs and the socioeconom ic sector can offer an effective response to real key challenges. Th ese two projects benefited from the visibility offered by both the awards and # EURegionsWeek.

This year we will focus on different topics, from citizens? engagem ent and cohesion to scaling up SMEs, in the context of a crossroads between two EU programming periods and still a demanding COVID-19 environment.

For EU regional offices, # EURegi on sWeek represent s a challenge from a cont ent and logist ics point of view in trying to keep up with the Committee of the Regions plenary session, the different events throughout the week, the regional stakeholders visiting and our own agendas. We will be excit ed when the time com es and exhausted when it ends! Acknowledging that, Committee of the Regions and DG REGIO teams are already planning the info day of next year ?s edition.

Th ese days are an opportunity to explain your views, learn from others and find new EU partners. Whether by seeking information, com m unicating, networking, learning about policy, exchanging good pract ices, raising awareness, discussing common challenges or feeding into the debate on EU policy, it is up to each participant to fully exploit the potential of # EURegion sWeek

This article appears in the EURegionsWeek 2021 Issue of TerritoriALL

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This article appears in the EURegionsWeek 2021 Issue of TerritoriALL