“I welcome Interreg Baltic Sea Region’s initiative to form a project platform,” says Thomas Erlandson, Policy Area Transport coordinator, adding it will facilitate the implementation of projects and exert a stronger political impact by transport projects. Jouni Lappalainen, Policy Area Safety coordinator, is of the opinion that project platform could in fact open the door for closer cooperation with projects which do not possess a EUSBSR flagship status. For Tālis Linkaits, Horizontal Action Spatial Planning coordinator, a project platform could facilitate knowledge and best practices exchange and shape a place for the projects to simply meet and talk to each other.
Transport projects speaking with one voice
The workshop run by Eeva Rantama, Interreg Baltic Sea Region’s Team Leader Project Unit, aimed at mapping out the relevance and added value of offering a project platform to ongoing and accomplished transport projects in the Baltic Sea region. Considering the existing cooperation bodies and informal ties among the projects, Interreg Baltic Sea Region intends to fill in the gaps to support the EUSBSR coordinators’ activities and to create a venue for closer cooperation among EU funded projects. The overarching aim is to contribute to the development of a sustainable, better connected and better accessible Baltic Sea region.
A vision which shall be achieved by a project platform was an important question discussed at the workshop. Prof. Kurt Bodewig shared his experiences regarding the Baltic-Adriatic Core Network Corridor: he highlighted the importance of involving all transport modes in order to “break up the existing silos”, create a reliable network and maintain close relations at a regional level. He was also open to opportunities provided by a project platform: cooperation of different EU funded projects could in fact help solve cross-border challenges together: “We need better cooperation and good ideas, and there could be a good partner in Interreg Baltic Sea Region,” as he said.
Wiktor Szydarowski, project coordinator for TENTacle, recognised “a better chance for being visible” a project platform could bring in provided that the projects do not compete over audiences but rather speak with one voice. There would be more evidence for the projects’ results if the projects joined forces. Although some informal partnerships among projects are helpful, for example TENTacle, NSB CoRe and Scandria projects cooperate to generate regional growth impulses out of the core network corridors, the platform could take the cooperation to a different level. This includes working together across available EU funding sources and ensuring more durable project outcomes in the form of changed policies or new business.
Autumn opportunity for transport projects
Following the vivid discussions at the workshop, it has become evident that there is open space for project platforms where projects cooperate across the funding sources, administrative levels and across various transport modes. The platforms could play a role in consolidating the transport community in the Baltic Sea region and intensifying the projects’ results.
Now, having been filled in with concrete examples of the aims such a platform could meet, the Managing Authority and the Secretariat of Interreg Baltic Sea Region will analyse the requirements for a call for project platforms in transport and other topics, which is expected to be announced in autumn.