The Policy Learning Platform on the road initiative aims to "visit" regional and local stakeholders in Europe, especially those in the managing authorities of the Structural Funds programmes, and to raise awareness of the networking and learning opportunities offered by Interreg Europe.
As the Alentejo region was a partner in this event, it was discussed how the region has an initiative called "Alentejo Green Deal" which aims to transpose the European Green Pact strategy in the region by focusing on the regional needs and priorities of other strategies and addressing the thematic areas of the Green Deal. The importance of digitalising this region to make it a "smart" and innovative community, attracting more young people and boosting the economy was also mentioned.
Before moving on to the presentations from the Norte, Centro, Lisbon, Algarve and Azores regions, Interreg Europe was presented in the Portuguese context. The country has 22 policy changes registered in 19 projects, including EPICAH. The new funding period has one less country, the United Kingdom, but with a slight increase in budget from 359 to 379 million euros, and aims to continue with the same objective of improving regional development policies through the exchange of experiences, innovative approaches and capacity building.
In this context, Portugal was presented by the representatives of the different regions invited to the event as a very diversified country in terms of natural characteristics, which is seen as an opportunity to be sustainably explored. At the event, it was highlighted that the country is like a gateway to the other side of the Atlantic and has strong border characteristics in Spain, two facts that should certainly be explored and exploited in future calls of the programme.
The main goal of the meeting was to explain in-depth all the possibilities offered by the Platform, so it was presented as a continuous learning space dedicated to helping regional policymakers to come up with better policies inspired by what others are doing. The aim is that the results of the projects do not disappear at the end of the project, i.e., to create a repository of good experiences and policies that can be consulted in the future, even if the project has ended. In addition, it was explained that there is the possibility of holding two-hour peer sessions between 2 or 3 colleagues from other organisations to receive feedback and input on a project idea, a political helpdesk to receive a written response from an expert on the challenges detected in a territory, and to organise two-day meetings between 4 or 5 colleagues from other regions to obtain input and feedback, in what the programme calls "peer-reviews".