18th European Week of Regions and Cities

The European Week of Regions and Cities is the biggest annual event dedicated to regional policy, this year entirely digital.

There are over 500 sessions, among which many organised by Interreg programmes, NPA projects and by the Arctic Cooperation.

On this page we have made a selection of events for you. Next to each event title there is a link to watch the livestream or to watch the recording.  All sessions recorded and available here.


Monday 12th October 2020


11:00 - 12:00 CET - COR Plenary session and Debate on the EU Annual Regional and Local Barometer

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Debate with CoR President, Apostolos Tzitzikostas and President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen on the first EU Annual Regional and Local Barometer presented by the CoR at the occasion of the 140th CoR plenary session.

This first EU Annual Regional and Local Barometer focuses on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. EU regional and local authorities have been on the frontline in tackling the health crisis and keeping people safe. The report shows how they are also key to the economic recovery. The publication highlights the impact on the most vulnerable in European local communities and presents new public opinion data on these issues, polled less than a month before publication.


14:30 - 16:30 CET - Opening session of the 18th European Week of Regions and Cities. Cohesion debate

Watch video from 5:37

The Opening session was an interactive debate between speakers, CoR members, partners and participants expected to take part remotely, around three round tables dedicated to: Cohesion and cooperation; Empowering citizens; Green Europe.

At the Opening session of the European Week of Regions and Cities, Elisa Ferreira, Commissioner for Cohesion and Reforms, pointed out that future cohesion policy investments shall be used wisely and that cohesion policy actors must show how they contribute to build a green, digital economy in a European way, which leaves no regions behind.


Tuesday 13th October


14:30 - 15:00 - Circular economy for a green Europe – Regiostars finalists talk
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Transferability of circular economy solutions to other cities and regions were the key topic of the discussion: how the experiences of the Regiostars winners can be replicated in other contexts, what are the challenges faced and the opportunities developed through the implementation of their projects.

The NPA project Blue Circular Economy was among the Regiostars finalists. The project Lead Partner Siv Marina Flø Grimstad from the Norwegian the University of Science and Technology presented the work of the partnership.


16:30 - 18:00 - New Approaches for Shrinking Rural Areas

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The session included the key findings of ESPON ESCAPE project (European Shrinking Rural Areas Challenges, Actions and Perspectives for Territorial Governance), including the diagnosis of forms of shrinking, intervention logic, governance and policy recommendations. Video contributions from four rural areas, including Finland, highlighted key issues and challenges for economic development and wellbeing associated with shrinking.


Wednesday 14th October


11:00 - 12:00 - Programme Cooperation in the Arctic

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As it is not self-evident that programmes can work together without a formal strategy, the Arctic Cooperation explained how to achieve this kind of "soft cooperation" from three different perspectives: that of a programme, of a project and of an external evaluator.

The nealry 50 participants were invited to share the three words that come to their mind when speaking of "Arctic Cooperation". The result was a rich word cloud where at the centre triumphed the words "CAPACITY" and "TRUST", two cornerstones of our cross-programme collaboration.


14:30 - 16:00 - Disruptive Digital Technology & Cohesion Policy

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A session organised by ERNACT, lead partner and partner of several NPA projects focusing on public service provision in rural areas. In this workshop invited speakers shared their visions and opinion on the use of the disruptive technologies for the provision of public services to overcome the challeneges in rural areas, such as lack of critical mass, human resources and remote dispersed communities.

Based on real examples and pilots developed in Europe, the workshop produced conclusions on the role that technologies, such as, Virtual Reality and Artificial Intelligence can play in future public service delivery. Read more

Attendees of the workshop also shared ideas, concerns and opinions about the use of these technologies in the public sector via live polls. Read more


19:00 - 20:30 - Watch the Regiostars Ceremony.

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REGIOSTARS is the annual Cohesion Policy award, honouring EU-funded projects demonstrating excellence and new approaches in regional development. The best EU Cohesion Policy projects are awarded every year since 2008 by an impartial jury.

This year it happened on a people-less stage, all 25 finalists connected live on a screen. Yet the atmosphere was full of excitement as one after the other six EU Commissioners announced the six winners of the 2020 awards.  Host EU Commissioner for Cohesion, Elisa Ferreira, emphasized that it is local people with good ideas implementing projects that can be an example and an inspiration for others. They are the solution, the secret of the success of Cohesion Policy, in her own words: "you are the stars". Read more

Thursday 15th October


11:00 - 12:00 - EU literary tourism: untapped potential

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The session began with a brief description of the EU Interreg NPA funded Spot-Lit  Project and how it is breaking new ground in this new and emerging cultural sector. This was followed by short presentations from the project regions highlighting the untapped potential of literary tourism in the EU and the various ways in which literary tourism businesses have been supported through the project to cooperate together.


14:15 - 15:15 - Closing ceremony of the Cohesion and Cooperation week

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During the closing ceremony EU Commissioner Ferreira shared four take-aways from the week. First, the past week has been a reminder of the quality of the work being done on the ground. Secondly it reinforced the awareness that overcoming borders is at the core of a cohesive Europe. Despite the initial border closure in response to Covid-19, Member States recognised that it was better for their communities eg. to be treated at the closest hospital, even if across a border. The lesson to be learned is that "we can solve problems better if we are together".

Third, Commissioner Ferreira encouraged Member States to include a cohesion criteria in the allocation of the React EU resources. Last she called for more efforts to involve young people in the works of the cohesion policy. Both to address their concerns, but also to engage them in the frontline and allow them to play an active role before they take over from the present generation.


15:45 - 18:30 - Interreg Annual Event -  30 years Together

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The celebration of Interreg 30th anniversary provided all along 2020 the opportunity to demonstrate the achievements so far, but also the chance to focus on the future by launching the debate on cooperation policy post 2020. This event did just that!

EU Commissioner Elisa Ferreira opened the meeting praising Interreg programmes as they “represent that European way of working together”. However she noticed that there is too little awareness about the work of Interreg among citizens and called all parties to “mobilise our energies to reach even further”.

Next, the event invited to the floor young people who brought their ideas and concerns for the future and shared how Interreg could address them. They debated with Dr Markus Kerber, State Secretary at the Federal Ministry of the Interior, Building and Community, and with Marc Lemaître, Director-General, DG REGIO. The exchange was pertinent, inspiring and concluded with the general agreement that young people should be involved more in Interreg programmes and projects.

Last on the stage was Janez Potočnik, former European Commissioner for Environment, who spoke about the role of territorial cooperation in reaching our Green Deal.


Monday 19th October


9:30 - 11:00 - Circular economy in Arctic industries

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As the EU is stepping up its ambitions towards becoming climate neutral, this session invited forerunners of the green transition to share their learnings.

A political panel followed, looking at what the EU can do to move towards more sustainable solutions in the Arctic. 

EU Special Envoy for Arctic Matters, Michael Mann, stated that "In the Arctic, we need to mitigate the effects of what is happening outside the Arctic" and referring to the open consultation about the future EU Arctic Policy, he added that "the EU needs ideas from people who understand the issues". On an operational level, Mr Mann identified the need for continued cooperation in the Arctic:  “The EU shall facilitate funding opportunities in the Arctic to help people talk to one another, build bridges between research and communities" and recoginsed the NPA progamme as a key player.

Ms Mirja Vehkaperä, Member European Committee of the Regions (COTER, NAT) and Chair of the Oulu City Board, Finland confirmed that there is need for more cooperation in the Arctic, especially on infrastructure, data and telecommunication. 

Mr Nils-Olov Lindfors, Chair of  the Northern Spartsely Populated Areas Network  concluded with the hope to "get rid of the COVID" to " reopen our borders to continue the work with the EU Green Deal, Arctic Strategy, Hydrogen strategy...we have the best conditions for the brightest future".



Tuesday 20th October


16:30 - 18:00 - Renewable energy reaching everywhere

Video link available later

Does arctic conditions such as darkness, snow and cold not sound as ideal conditions for renewable energy?

There are more opportunities than you might expect. This workshop presents new research results about solar power and renewable energy in Arctic conditions. Achieving climate-neutrality requires maximising the deployment of renewable energy throughout Europe. Investors, private sector incl. SMEs, public sector and consumers need to be part in the uptake of renewable energy.

The speakers shares how they get actors to shift to renewable energy in interventions funded by the European Regional Development Fund and Interreg: Northern Periphery and Arctic region (SMARTrenew). This case demonstrates that shifting to renewable energy is possible everywhere and discusses how to achieve the sustainable green transition that the European Green Deal foresees.