Some 200 participants attended the conference, which took place at the European Solidarity Centre, built at the former premises of the Gdansk shipyard. The Centre was built to honour and commemorate the fight for civil and labour rights in Poland. The fight took place in the 1970-80s and laid the foundation for uniting Europe, which the Interreg Programmes aim to continuously support. Gdansk has demonstrated involvement and commitment to the Interreg Programme during a number of years with numerous successful projects as a result (search for projects in the Interreg Baltic Sea project fruit basket).
The conference aimed to demonstrate the tangible and intangible effects of European transnational cooperation. Susanne Scherrer, Director of the Managing Authority and the Joint Secretariat, Interreg Baltic Sea stated at the conference “Cooperation creates trust and trust is social capital. Without trust in the rule of law, in institutions and in people ‘keeping their promises’ you will not attract financial capital or investments to develop the Baltic Sea Region”.
Actually being able to see first-hand the results of a project gives incentive to develop new thoughts and go through the sometimes challenging task of applying for funds. In the spirit of the conference motto “Stories that inspire”, the conference participants were given the opportunity to explore Interreg project results in Gdansk in a multi-leg bicycle tour. The stops along the tour were accompanied by storytelling by project experts who all had a hand in accomplishing the results.
Mid-afternoon, thirtysomething participants straddled bicycles and off they went across the blazing hot city along its red-coloured bike paths. The bikers were guided to the district of Wrzeszcz, stopping at one of the cycling monitors, which was enabled within the South Baltic project abc.multimodal. The city has installed five counters on cycling paths. Following the project and the positive implications of available data for cycling policy, the city has invested in 20 additional counters distributed all over the city. This makes it possible for the cities four thousand bike commuters to wiz safely through the city daily.
The bike tour ended at the headquarters of the Solidarność trade union, which acted as Lead Partner in the Baltic Sea Labour Network Project in 2008-2012. A project that aimed at developing a European tripartite model (so called social dialogue) involving trade unions, employers and the government for the improvement of interregional labour policy. It is still active through its annual forum. The visit appropriately closed the circle as a final reminder of the opportunities that close cooperation across borders and trust in one another can bring to the benefit of many.