The new Monitoring Committee is off to a great start
On 28-29 June, the Monitoring Committee set up for the new Interreg North Sea Programme convened for the first time in Hanover, Lower Saxony.
Representing the seven participating countries, the Committee will oversee the development and execution of the new programme.
On the agenda were rules and procedures of the new programme as well as decisions on the first 21 applications submitted in Call 1.
Happy sailing wishes from German ministers
Ms Klara Geywitz, German Federal Minister for Housing, Urban Development and Building, opened the event with a video-recorded, yet warm and lively welcome to the Monitoring Committee. In her view, "the North Sea Region is an excellent example of how countries can solve problems across borders". She added that despite its strengths, funding is needed to move the region forward: "Starfish are master survivors and very adaptable, but without the environment they cannot survive."
In addition, Ms Birgit Honé, Minister of Federal and European Affairs and Regional Development in Lower Saxony, had prepared a written speech emphasising Germany's appreciation for the inclusion of green mobility and governance in the new programme. She also stressed the importance of European cooperation in light of the war in Ukraine.
The German delegation. From left: Heike Hagedorn (Chair, Federal Ministry for Housing, Urban Development and Building), Jens Kurnol (Federal Office for Building and Regional Planning), Carsten Westerholt (Lower Saxony Federal and European Affairs and Regional Development), Peter Krämer (Freie Hansestadt Bremen), and National Contact Point Annika Rix.
Decisions about calls
At the meeting, the member countries agreed to allow applicants to submit full applications in Call 2 without an approved expression of interest, similar to Call 1. The purpose is to allow for more applications in the early stages of the programme.
The Committee was also able to agree on approximate dates for the following calls through 2024. The dates can be seen here.
Hellos and goodbyes
Bonjour et bienvenue! For the first time in the programme's history, a Monitoring Committee meeting involved French participants, and everyone was excited about the future French cooperation in the North Sea Region.
The French participation got a flying start as the first project approved by the Committee - the small-scale project BIOZE - is led by the French organisation Association d'Initiatives Locales pour l'Energie.
Bienvenue to the French delegation! From left: Caroline Daessle (Hauts-de-France), Caroline Gauthier (Hauts-de-France), Marie Piard-Georget (Hauts-de-France), and Claire Le Tertre (Normandie).
Meanwhile, the group said auf wiedersehen to one of our programme's long-term stakeholders, Ms Ingrid Kürsten, who has engaged with the programme for many years. In recognition her significant contributions, Head of Secretariat Christian Byrith presented her with our signature glass starfish.
Ingrid Kürsten proudly showcasing the unique handmade glass starfish - the highest mark of distinction that any North Sea enthusiast can obtain in our programme.
What comes next?
At the Joint Secretariat, we were extremely pleased with the meeting and super happy with the warm welcome prepared by our hosts. This even included a brochure featuring North Sea projects with German participation as well as small bags of wild Forget-me-Not flower seeds.
"We have now taken a very important step towards delivering the new programme. This first meeting illustrates exactly what cooperation is all about – finding the common ground and solutions to common challenges," says Head of Secretariat Christian Byrith.
The draft Interreg North Sea Programme 2021-2027 was submitted to the European Commission in February. The decisions made at the June meeting will take effect once the programme has been formally approved by the European Commission.