In November 2020, the Regions 4Food Interreg Europe project concluded its fifth period. For this reason, the partnership, which member is also South Transdanubian Regional Innovation Agency, has assessed the progress of the past six months at two meetings.

On 24 November, the Steering Committee meeting was held online, which was opened with a short welcome and presentation by Mrs. Esperanza Perea Acosta, representing the leading partner, the Andalusia Regional Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Sustainable Development. Afterwards, Mr. Giorgio Moretti, one of the leaders of the Italian ART-ER, greeted the participants.

The partners reviewed the activities and outputs of the last semester and the information,deadlines needed for the next report. Then the current financial status of the project was presented. They checked the fourth semester report and what financial reporting can be expected from partners at the end of the fifth semester. The expected financial changes were discussed by the participants. As the impact of COVID 19 is felt in the implementation of the project, the lead partner initiated an extension of the first phase at the Joint Secretariat, which was generally supported by the other partners. The extension was essentially required by the proper and effective implementation of the project. In the rest of the meeting, the Italian partner responsible for communication presented the communication strategy for the last semester and the events, which will be expected in the coming period. Finally, the expected activities and performances of the sixth semester were briefly summarised, which was moderately modified by the half-yearly extension.

The other event, the fifth Interregional Seminar, took place on 30 November, also online. This event was launched with a brief description of the project and the general objectives were presented by the Spanish partners. Among other things, the time schedule of the project, the communication strategy, the selected good practices were reviewed.

At the next programme point of the event, participants talked about the peer review processes in each region. Representatives of all project partners presented their experience with the process: first Pays de la Loire Regional Council (France), then Seinäjoki University of Applied Sciences (Finland), ART-ER Stock Joint Consortium (Italy), South Transdanubian Regional Innovation Agency Nonprofit Ltd. (Hungary), Province Limburg (Netherlands), Pazardzhik Regional Administration (Bulgaria) and finally the Regional Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Rural Development – Government of Andalusia (Spain).

Each region presented its own expert assessment according to the following criteria:

  • policy Instrument tackled by the project, 
  • brief description of objective, characteristics and its reason(s) why it should be improved,
  • list of main aspects considered as positive by reviewers integrated in your Action Plan,
  • list of main aspects considered by reviewers as to be improved,
  • will the modifications suggested be included in Action Plan?
  • general opinion on the process.

In the continuation of the event, the partners reviewed the strategic recommendations. The whole subject was handled interactively alongside the moderation of Ms. Cecilia Gañan. After a few brief introductory questions, the 7 draft strategic recommendations were reviewed by the partners:

  • create legal frameworks for data management, 
  • create ecosystems of innovation and linkages between all relevant actors,
  • increase of public and private investment,
  • promote technological solutions and specialized software in agri-food sector,
  • develop multidisciplinary training,
  • increase communication and awareness,
  • generate opportunities to co-design/develop initiatives and programmes.

All partners then explained their strategic recommendations in more detail, based on their own experiences.

The full-day meeting was closed with the hope that representatives of the regions would soon be able to meet in person.