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Trans-regional perspective

Trans-regional level includes all the approaches and experiences undertaken at European level having a “regional component”. The latter is intended as an area characterized by proximity or homogeneous geographic, territorial and climatic elements, common economic, cultural and social challenges/needs and common objectives and strategies especially in a long term perspective.

A key aspect is the need to approach development challenges and potentials in a wider geographical context, as in the abovementioned cases appropriate responses require joint approaches across national boundaries.

In our approach, trans-regional level has a broad meaning, taking into consideration:

1     Initiatives developed in areas in which the common challenges/opportunities deriving from geographic characterization are the motivation/driver for collaborating, including P2Ps actions, Art. 185 and further specific regional initiatives;

2     Initiatives and programmes developed in specific areas in which the geographic identity is the “pre-requisite” for collaborating and developing joint programmes, including the European regional and cohesion policy and in this context the territorial cooperation (cross-border, transnational and inter-regional, including in particular the Macro-regional strategies);

3     Further initiatives focusing on intensive use of ESIF and smart specialization and synergies with Horizon 2020;

4     Initiative developed in the context of non-regional P2Ps problem-based initiatives, stimulating additional pathways focused on regional characterization.

The concept of “region” used in the analysis goes beyond the “political-administrative” connotation, to embrace the areas (with different actors to be involved, such as regions, provinces, municipalities, public and private entities) pushed by common challenges and opportunities to cooperate and elaborate joint strategies across national/regional borders.

A set of case studies are selected among existing P2P networks, research alliances and JPIs. These consist in a mix of actions and instruments undertaken at different stages in the research programming cycle and relying on different cooperation modes and actors, hence representing different facets of alignment. The analysis relies on a review of existing literature and targeted interviews with managers and beneficiaries/participants of these alignment modalities.

The case studies focus on:

  • Key features of the case at hand (mission, governance, approximate time and resources needed for set up and implementation)
  • Principal outputs to date
  • Overall strengths, incl. key achievements
  • Overall limitations, incl. difficulties encountered during implementation
  • Suitability and key factors of success

In synthesizing the results of the selected case studies, a comparative analysis was conducted in view of developing a roadmap/ toolbox for further aligning different P2Ps. The report is available for download here.


Case study no. 1 - NordForsk  (download pdf)

NordForsk is an organisation developed at regional level among the Nordic Countries - Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden, and three autonomous areas, Faroe Islands, Greenland and the Åland Islands.

Established under the Nordic Council of Ministers – inter-governmental body for cooperation in the Nordic Region – NordForsk provides funding for and facilitates Nordic cooperation on research and research infrastructures through the financing and administration of research programmes. Its mandate is in particular to facilitate, to identify and respond to, common strategic priorities for Nordic research cooperation, and thereby create Nordic added value. The peculiarity of this regional initiative relies on the extended use of the “real common pot funding mechanism” in all its programmes and initiatives.

Case study no. 2 – Bonus (download pdf)

The joint Baltic Sea research and development programme (BONUS), which was launched under the Article 185 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union as a strategic, multi-annual joint research undertaking of eight Baltic Member States.

The Programme has created  a macroregional collaboration of research and innovation funding institutions that supports sustainable development of the Baltic Sea ecosystem services. Its purpose is to overcome research fragmentation and duplication by integrating national programmes into a single centrally managed programme.

Case study no. 3 - EDCTP (download pdf)

The European and Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership (EDCTP) was established in September 2003 by 15 European countries with the aim to develop capacity building for clinical trials and new clinical interventions to address the needs of sub-Saharan Africa in the fields of HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis. Created as an Article 169 of the Treaty (since re-numbered as Article 185 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union), the EDCTP aims at improving coordination and integration of research from different European Member States in the field of poverty related diseases. The programme has facilitated alignment and coordination of European national research programmes and activities; has fostered African leadership in clinical research, and has strengthened the ethics and regulatory environment for conducting clinical trials in sub-Saharan Africa.

 Case study no. 4 - CERIC-ERIC (download pdf)

The Central European Research Infrastructures Consortium (CERIC-ERIC, acronym CERIC) was set up under the ERIC legal framework in June 2014 by the Commission's implementing decision, based on the formal request of five Countries. It provides open access to the Member's scientific facilities, such as synchrotron light sources, neutron sources, nuclear magnetic resonance apparatus and similar, based on international peer review. CERIC is a distributed research infrastructure in materials and biomaterials. The ERIC Regulation provides a common legal framework based on Article 187 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU). The setting up of CERIC by integrating several different facilities into a single distributed infrastructure opens a great opportunity to enhance the circulation of human resources, ideas and innovations. The driving force behind is the common scope to be relevant and attractive at the international level.

Case study no. 5 - The Vanguard Initiative (download pdf)

The political leaders of 15 European industrial regions gathered on 30 January 2014 in Brussels to engage in a joint effort for the industrial future of Europe. The ‘Vanguard Initiative for New Growth through Smart Specialisation’(VI) is now a network of 30 European regions and they are politically committed to support the wider application and visibility of smart specialisation principles with the aim of boosting EU competitiveness and to revitalise European industrial growth. This is delivered by aligning regional areas of strengths and enabling co-investment on the basis of regional smart specialisation strategies.

Case study no. 6 - The DACH Agreement and the Lead Agency Procedure (download pdf)

The DACH Agreement is an instrument of cross-border collaboration, signed in May 2008 between the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) and its partner organisations, the FWF (Austrian Science Fund, Austria) and the SNSF (Swiss National Science Foundation, Switzerland). It relates to the mutual opening of the respective funding programmes with the objective to simplify the execution of cross-border research projects. Simplification is achieved by making one of the funding agencies the only responsible of the evaluation process of the transnational projects ("Lead Agency" process). In particular, the DACH Agreement – and the related “Lead Agency Procedure” – is a concrete and successful example of cooperation at trans-regional level, which represents a good practice in implementing inter-operability and creates the basis for an alignment at operational level.

 Case study no. 7 - The BLUEMED initiative (download pdf)

The BLUEMED initiative, Blue Growth research and Innovation Initiative for the Mediterranean - BLUEMED Initiative, is the result of the efforts of 9 EU member states bordering  the Mediterranean sea, to foster a sustainable blue growth in the Mediterranean sea area. Its final goal is to contribute to align or integrate the funding strategies, R&I funds and infrastructures at regional, national and EU level, by avoiding duplication, improving the effectiveness in the use of resources and maximizing the leverage effects. BLUEMED represents a good practice of alignment at strategic level, involving from one side the EU Mediterranean Countries, who committed at political level to adopt common research priorities and strategic agenda, and from the other side, the European Commission DG RTD and MARE, which facilitated and supported the process.


Last update: Oct. 2017