In 2020 we celebrate 30 years of Interreg. On this occasion, we asked representatives of the Interreg South Baltic Programme projects, regional authorities, as well as local people and activists to share their experiences about the Interreg funds and the cross-border cooperation.
Rafał Koba, Project Manager representing the Gdynia Maritime University, Maritime Institute in Poland, shares his experience from the perspective of the Lead Partner in INCONE60 project.
Let’s talk about Interreg!
The INCONE60 project is implemented under the South Baltic Programme 2014-2020 and co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund. It is primarily aimed at shifting cargo from land to sea transport, to decrease the negative impact on the natural environment and increase awareness about the benefits of choosing the short sea shipping. The project is dedicated to cargo owners, forwarders, vessel owners, port authorities, local, regional or national authorities and all other entities involved in the cargo transport.
The project partnership consists of a broad network of entities involved in the development of small ports and short sea shipping.
The project aims to improve shipping connections between local and regional seaports, located in the South Baltic and the North Sea regions along the International Waterway E60, and connecting it with a network of inland waterways. Actions are taken to improve internal and external transport links as well as increase transport efficiency. Moreover, activities within the project promote ecological means of transport and innovative means of propulsion, thus contributing to decarbonisation of transport operations and mitigation the environmental impact of transport systems. To achieve the above mentioned, the project partners have been working on formulating transport solutions supporting the active development of peripheral coastal regions of the South Baltic area, focusing on local ports as development centres. It will also help increase the competitiveness of the Baltic Sea and increase its accessibility and attractiveness. One of these solutions is the INCONE60 Cargo Flow Model aimed to present the benefits of choosing the short sea shipping for cargo transport. The simulator calculates all transport-related costs and also external costs such as accidents, noise, pollutants, climate costs, infrastructure degradation and congestion.
The next essential outputs are pilot trips. These trips aim to support synchromodality concept in the South Baltic and the North Sea Regions and to create a network of contacts that may result in the initiation of new shipping connections between local and regional ports. During the organisation of the trips, INCONE60 intensively cooperates with shipowners, shipping agents and port authorities. It will boost the development of the small ports in the and impact the reduction of the CO2 positively and decreasing other external costs.
To achieve our goals, cooperation beyond national borders is indispensable. The regular collaboration has been established with other projects of the Interreg South Baltic Programme and also from other programmes like Interreg North Sea Region and Horizon 2020. What's more, INCONE60 will cooperate with the Flemish Government to develop a range of activities aimed, in particular, at the development of the maritime economy, including strengthening the role of short sea shipping and regional seaports in the European transport network.
Activation of local and regional seaports, especially those located in Eastern Europe, is one of the project's priorities. Thanks to the navigability of the International Waterway E60, it will be possible to establish international cooperation between those ports and Western European ports, such as Port Oostende. To overcome development barriers, not only financial resources are needed, but also international collaboration and the establishment of consistent infrastructure development strategies.
Interreg programmes are ideal platforms for exchanging experiences and establishing cooperation between countries and regions. The advantage of the programmes is not only research activities but most of all, activities with a real impact on the economics of the region. The common goal of all projects should be to unlock further potential for blue and green growth.
One of the most critical challenges that need to be faced by Interreg programmes is the development of peripheral areas and local seaports. International cooperation and activities for building a green deal in the spirit of the circular economy should be carried out in the broadest possible range of projects aiming at activation of these structures.
*The video was produced by the project's Lead Partner - Gdynia Maritime University, Maritime Institute.