The additional activities of the CESME project were completed with great success by the end of September 2022. The CESME+ project is funded by the INTERREG EUROPE Program and concerns additional activities following the CESME project (Circular Economy in Small and Medium Enterprises), which was completed in 2020.

One additional year of experience exchange was the necessary period of time for the partnership to manage and report the current status of the SMEs, dealing with several aspects of circular economy and, at the same time, recovering from the Covid-19 pandemic.

During this one year, many interesting outputs were accomplished:

1 interregional report on Covid-19 impact and ways of recovery for the SMEs in the field of circular economy

16 new good practices applied in the regions of the partnership, which combine the matters of the pandemic, the SMEs and the circular economy

4 Local Support Groups, which were close to the activities all the time and attended several meetings in the framework of the project

4 interesting policy developments, attempting to influence the policy tools of the regions, having already attracted ideas by the project

The partners of the Bologna metropolitan area addressed the Metropolitan Strategic Plan 2.0, with the aim to improve its governance, pushing to better include circular economy in the recovery actions. The circular economy approach was brought to the agenda of stakeholders related to trade and tourism, which includes representatives from the local chamber of commerce, trade unions and officers from the public administration of the territories of the Metropolitan City of Bologna. Their engagement deals with the promotion of the circular economy in the metropolitan area of Bologna, with a special attention to the Apennines (mountain area) and in promoting innovation in supply chain and entrepreneurship, support innovative start-ups, fostering circular economy, eco-design, short and integrated supply chain, rationale use of resources. The writing of the new Metropolitan strategic plan could be influenced by the learning process initiated through the CESME+ project.

Regarding the region of South Ostrobothnia, new Policy Instrument was published in December 2021. The Regional Programme 2022-2025 is the implementation part of the long-term Regional Plan of South Ostrobothnia extending to 2050. Its objective is to activate the implementation of the objectives and activities stated by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment in its decision for regional development and the themes of the Regional Plan. The development reached during CESME project is: 1) Regional council (funded under a national regional development fund AKKE) has created a regional climate and circular economy roadmap which is a region wide strategy. 2) New ERDF project that started in Seinäjoki University of Applied Sciences (one of the stakeholders in CESME stakeholder group) that aims at creating a regional circular economy learning environment/hub for SMEs.

Regarding Bulgaria, the policy instrument that was selected to be influenced under the CESME project is the National Development Programme of Bulgaria 2030 and in particular Priority 4 Circular and law-carbon economy through amendments in the Strategy for Circular Economy being a strategic document needed to achieve the goals of the NDP 2030. The recommendations for amendments in the Circular Economy Strategy of Bulgaria 2030 were submitted at the end of July 2022 to the Ministry of Environment, Directorate Waste, the unit responsible for the development and implementation of the Circular Economy Strategy in Bulgaria. The Circular Economy Strategy 2022 - 2027 was approved by the interim government Council of Ministries with a decision № 832 on October 26th, 2022.

For the region of Central Macedonia, the policy instrument that was selected to be influenced under the CESME project is the Regional Operation Program (ROP) of Central Macedonia 2021-2027. The (ROP) of Region Central Macedonia for the new programming period was submitted by the Managing Authority of the Operational Program of the Region of Central Macedonia to the competent services of the European Commission and was approved on September 5, 2022. The proposals for influencing the policy instrument of the Region of Central Macedonia through the Regional Operation Program 2021-2027, are incorporating the principles of the circular economy and they are the following: Circular-Creative Vouchers, Financing circular economy equipment, Recycling and/or composting of organic waste, Circular Business Districts, Circular Farms.