For the ninth time in a row the European Cooperation Day is taking place under the auspices of the European Commission and the INTERACT programme. Today, on 21 September 2020, we presented the results and importance of cross-border cooperation projects in the cross-border area of Slovenian and Austrian Carinthia. At the same time as celebrating the 30th anniversary of the Interreg programmes, we planted two trees on each side of the border, in the spirit of sustainability and integration.
This year’s European Cooperation Day (EC Day) events bring together three thematic topics; a greener and climate-neutral Europe, young people and we all have a neighbour. With the events, the organizers want to emphasize the importance of the achievements of European regions and countries in cross-border cooperation. In 2020, at the level of the European Union, we are also celebrating 30 years of European Territorial Cooperation programmes, which are better known as the Interreg programmes and represent the second pillar of cohesion policy. Such programmes provide a framework for the implementation of joint actions, encourage regions and countries to address common challenges, and promote harmonious economic, social and territorial development.
This year’s event was set in a cross-border environment, where many projects have been or are still being implemented, which would not be possible without Interreg programmes. The event, which took place in the cross-border area of Slovenian and Austrian Carinthia, took place under the auspices of the Government Office for Development and European Cohesion Policy (SVRK), the managing authority of the Cooperation Programme Interreg V-A Slovenia-Austria 2014-2020, in cooperation with Austrian programme partners, the Provincial Government of Carinthia (Amt der Kärntner Landesregierung) and Kärntner Wirtschaftsförderungs Fond (KWF) and project partners. The event also presented two projects co-financed under the cross-border programme Slovenia-Austria, NaKult and SMART Tourist, which are a good proof of successful cross-border cooperation in the field of promotion of natural and cultural heritage and sustainable development of border regions.
As pointed out in her welcome address by mag. Monika Kirbiš Rojs, State Secretary of SVRK, without cross-border projects such cooperation would most likely not exist, nor would there be many concrete results for citizens who have a long-term impact in the field of economy, tourism and preservation of rich natural and cultural heritage. Cross-border cooperation is an important framework for maintaining good neighbourly relations and an additional financial incentive for organizations and institutions in border areas, especially before these ceremonies, said mag. Nina Seljak, head of the Managing Authority of the cross-border programme.
This year’s European Cooperation Day was somewhat curtailed and, in terms of scope and implementation, was adapted to the situation related to the COVID-19, but the main activity of today’s event was sustainable. The ceremonial planting of linden and beech on both sides of the border represents a symbolic view of the future, an investment with which, as through projects, we try to leave a sustainable mark in the programme area and positively influence development and life in the border area. The participants went from one side to the other side of the border with the Drava raft, which connects Lavamünd and Dravograd by driving through the beautiful natural scenery of the Drava River and its surroundings.
Despite their small size, cross-border cooperation programmes are becoming more and more recognizable from year to year, and the results of co-financed projects are an indispensable part of the development and increase of the quality of life in the cross-border area. This is one of the reasons why the cross-border programme between Slovenia and Austria is one of the most successful programmes at the EU level in terms of spending. Cross-border cooperation will continue in the period 2021-2027, which opens the potential for many new effective solutions to the common challenges of the cross-border area.