After 4 years of collaboration, the KISS ME project is now coming to an end on 30 June 2021. In late April, the project partners and stakeholders from the European partner regions came together once again to celebrate the successful collaboration and to see how the project partners have implemented their action plans developed in the project in their regions.
More than 30 participants from all partner regions followed the online event. Sjaak Kamps, Managing Director of Euregio Rhine-Waal opened the event. "In the course of our cooperation, we have seen that despite some differences in the regions, we still have a lot in common. With the KISS ME project we had the opportunity to learn a lot from each other - about the other regions, but also about the way of working in our own region. Through the good cooperation we were able to lay the foundation for further cooperation in the future beyond the project," said Sjaak Kamps. Afterwards, Ilaria Ramaglioni, Policy Officer at the Interreg Europe Secretariat in Lille, gave an overview of the outputs of interregional cooperation in recent years and of interregional cooperation in the future. Since 2016, the 258 Interreg Europe projects have been able to bring about a total of 538 policy changes in regional funding instruments with a total volume of 949 million euros in funds. Ilaria Ramaglioni underlined the special character of the cooperation between different border regions within the KISS ME project and praised the active contributions of the project to other Interreg Europe initiatives, such as the Policy Learning Platform and the Good Practice Database.
In the second part of the event, the project partners presented the state of implementation of their action plans in their respective regions. Although the implementation was slowed down everywhere by the COVID-situation, the regions were already able to implement many concrete measures from their action plans. Especially concerning the preparation of the new cross-border funding programs for the years 2021-2027, the recommendations from the KISS ME project were able to take effect and thus some of the measures from the action plans will be reflected in the new programs. In addition to the successes of the action plan implementation, the project partners repeatedly emphasized the good cooperation among the partners. The cooperation within the consortium not only provided a productive professional working environment, but many long-term contacts could be established that go beyond the project - both between the project partners and between the regional stakeholders, who were also an essential part of the project.
Besides the cooperation to improve competitiveness and innovation strategies for SMEs in European border regions, the KISS ME project also provides a good example of the importance and potential of European cooperation in practice. Possibilities for continued, future cooperation are currently elaborated. All presentations of the event can be found on the project website.