On 10th of December 2020, 18th PA8 Steering and Working Group Meeting was held at which 21 PA 8 stakeholders, among other topics, actively discussed new and concrete proposals for regional cooperation such as INNOVATION EXPRESS 2.0 and “Danube Alliance for SME Competitiveness” project.
The Representative of the European Commission (EC), Johan Magnusson, highlighted two key priorities in the next period: Green and Digital Transformation, among them, European Green Deal. Mr. Magnusson draw the attention to the fact that EC has recently issued a Bi-annual report for all macroregional strategies, adding that “strategies can function as useful framework for coping with the post-pandemic situation”. In addition, he emphasized “The Croatian EUSDR Presidency, together with national coordinators and the DSP, took the initiative for the very important embedding process, and the incoming presidency will follow-up on that process.”
Ms. Mihaela Florea from Danube Strategy Point (DSP), briefed about activities done by the DSP in the second half of 2020, and, on behalf of the Slovakian presidency, emphasized that next year’s presidency “will provide guidance, leadership and support for the implementation of the Strategy in two thematic priorities; the climate change and protection of biodiversity and digitalization and innovation eco-systems”.
INNOVATION EXPRESS 2.0. , as presented by Judit Schrick-Szenczi, is a joint initiative among all four macroregional strategies which will result in pilot call in spring 2021 and will be built upon on a BSR STARS INNOVATION EXPRESS. No additional money will be needed (financed by ERDF or by national sources), but partners are invited to synchronise a call for proposal with other countries. Opportunity to learn from from EU Baltic Region Stars Innovation Express (which lasted from 2012-2017) was presented by Mrs. Karin Nygard-Skalman (Mid Sweden University) describing the success of this synchronized initiative within the Baltic region as well as giving examples of good practice of helping SMEs with quicker and easier access to international cross border cooperation.
A study “Recommendations for decision makers and SMEs within the Danube Region with regard to economic impact of the Corona crisis” and the new Flagship Initiative “Danube Alliance for SME Competitiveness” (whose main purpose will be to define the structure of some value chains and how to make it more resilient) gave the PA8 Coordinators and stakeholders new direction in the years to come.
The discussions afterwards were concentrated on willingness of the countries to participate in the synchronized initiatives, where all the stakeholders were tasked to present this initiative to the decision makers and managing authority. This meeting was valued as success giving the fact that it had high number of participants and that stakeholders were actively involved.
Presentations from the meeting: