How is the Atlantic Area programme dealing with Covid-19 restrictions?
Cooperation acquires an even more significant dimension when Europe is facing a public health crisis. It’s the lever that will help us to return to a “new normal” way of life. The Atlantic projects are contributing to mitigate the consequences of this health crisis at several levels such as economic, social and environmental.
The spread of the coronavirus pandemic has severely affected lives around the world, including the Atlantic Area community. This crisis, with multiple dimensions, changed the way we work and the way we live. We have to adapt at a fast pace to new ways of doing business, communicating, sharing and living.
Cooperation, interaction, team work, partnerships acquire an increasingly significant dimension. Without cooperation it would be even more difficult to get around the uncertainty and difficulties in a “new normal” scenario.
Even if currently the health emergency seems relatively controlled in Europe, an economic and social crisis is expected with the loss of thousands of jobs in the Atlantic Area region. Our projects are undoubtedly an added value by contributing, each in its own area of intervention, to the recovery of the economy and the mitigation of the consequences at the economic, social, environmental levels.
The European Commission keeps on promoting the value of our projects as good examples of Interreg. Panorama magazine highlighted AYCH project as a flagship project in youth entrepreneurship. More recently CLEANTLANTIC project was selected to be part of a communication campaign to celebrate the 30 years of Interreg, as promoter of a greener Europe and ADSA was selected to the next phase of Interreg Project Slam within the theme of ‘We all have a neighbour’.
All the Atlantic projects continue to carry out their activities and this is a very positive aspect. Meetings, trainings and even events, continued online. In some cases, planned activities requiring intervention on the ground have been postponed rather than canceled.
Facing this scenario, the Programme adapted and showed flexibility by granting an automatic extension of 6 months to all projects, as well as an extension in the delivery of implementation reports. We also provided guidance to expenditures incurred by partners, given the restrictions on traveling, organizing meetings and events (more information here).
The Joint Secretariat and Managing Authority have been working at home since mid-March and soon we plan to return to work respecting all the required safety rules. Our ongoing activities continued as planned, in virtual format, fulfilling our mission to carry out the successful implementation of our projects.
As for the Interreg Atlantic Area 2021-2027 programming process, work is also moving forward. The Task Force had a second meeting online in April, chaired by the French Presidency of the Monitoring Committee, in close collaboration with the Managing Authority and the participation of Member States. The preparation of the future programme is ongoing in order to comply with the European Commission timeline and be ready to smoothly continue to be an effective and efficient policy tool for the benefit of the Atlantic citizens.
In times of uncertainty, we’re all learning new ways of doing things. And learning new ways of doing things is always positive.