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Dear Reader

a year filled with manifold activities and challenges on programme and project level draws to a close. On this occasion we would like to provide you with a brief retrospective on the MED Programme's year 2011 and an outlook on what is foreseen for the year 2012. Enjoy reading!

What happened in 2011?

In 2011 Spain presided over the MED Programme, thus the programme's Monitoring and Steering Committee meetings as well as the annual event were organised together with and hosted by the Spanish Presidency and held in Valencia and Barcelona.  

The preparation and organisation of the First Joint Conference of the 13 Transnational Territorial Cooperation Porgrammes in Katowice, Poland marked an important milestone in 2011 and a starting point for a coordinated and shared approach among these 13 programmes. After this first event in September, the programmes jointly facilitated a workshop at the Open Days in October 2011 in Brussels. During this workshop, representatives of relevant European institutions gave their opinions about the future of Transnational Cooperation and received input for the debates about the EC regulatory framework proposal. At their meeting on 24 and 25 November 2011 in Poznań, the Ministers responsible for Regional Policy, Territorial Cohesion and Urban Development of the 27 EU Member States received the conclusions of the conference in Katowice and its follow up in Brussels. 

The MED Programme's annual event 'Smart growth and the MED Programme - Close up on past, present and future transnational innovation' took place in Barcelona in October 2011 and dealt with questions about innovation and smart growth. What is innovation, what are innovative projects and what do projects and programme need to develop to contribute to smart growth in Europe? Only few days before the annual event, the legislative proposals for the future Cohesion Policy were published. Thus, the annual event offered the possibility to present and discuss this framework.

The MED Programme's capitalisation process got in focus: after external experts to accompany the process were selected and contracted, concrete activities got started. In summer 2011 a first workshop series for first call projects was organised in Rome. After that, questionnaires were developed and submitted to all MED projects. Around 60 projects participated and thus the programme received a highly satisfying and valuable feedback. A second workshop, the 'clustering and capitalisation day'  took place in Marseille end of November for all MED projects. Based on the results of these past events, ongoing surveys and further consultations, project clusters will be further identified, discussed and finally set up in the first half of 2012. Also a call for capitalisation projects will be further tailored and precised during this period. 

In 2011 the outcomes of the programme's in itinere evaluation assigned in 2009, were presented. Based on the results, the programme also started to intensively discuss the future: In July a working group composed of Member States, JTS and MA representatives was established to initiate analysis and discussions necessary to build up the future MED Programme based on lessons learned within programme and project implementation of the current MED, but also other programmes of the European Commission. This approach ('experience feedback method') will be further continued in 2012.

And what happened in the Med project world?

The first 4 strategic projects were approved in 2011: three projects in the field of energy efficiency and renewable energies (approved in February 2011) and one project in the field of maritime safety (approved in October 2011). These strategic projects benefit from the newly implemented shared management of IPA funds. The MED Programme's Monitoring Committee accepted to integrate IPA financial management to the programme and in March 2011 the European Commission approved the modification to the Operational Programme accordingly.

The MED Programme now comprises a total number of 105 projects. While the pioneer strategic projects started (the latest approved project is called MEDESS-4MS), first classical projects of the first call were coming to an end.

A call for strategic project proposals on accessibility and ICT was opened in April 2011 (more specifically: objective 3.1 'Improvement of maritime accessibility and of transit capacities through multi-modality and intermodality' and objective 3.2 'Support to the use of information technologies for a better accessibility and territorial cooperation').

What is in the pipeline for 2012?

During the annual event in Barcelona, the 2012 Presidency of the Med Programme was officially announced and introduced: Cyprus. Since this Member State will also preside over the EU Council in 2/2012 the programme intends to benefit from a high media interest. Thus, the annual event will take place in October 2012 and be hospiced by the Cypriote Presidency of the EU Council.

In some of the MED Programme priorities ERDF budget is left (for example due to ERDF return of 1st call projects). With this remaining budget the programme intends to co-finance projects that help to experiment methodologies, processes, themes and possibilities with regard to the upcoming programming period 2014-2020. Thus, a targeted call for innovation projects will be opened in early 2012. The main objective of this targeted call is to better identify and strengthen innovation capacities of Mediterranean SMEs and support the implementation of innovative solutions for renewable energy and energy efficiency in Mediterranean cities. Thus, this call is dedicated to specific objectives within the first and second priority axis of the MED Programme:

- AXIS 1 “Strengthening innovation capacities”, including the promotion of innovative technologies, know-how (objective 1.1.) as well as the strengthening of strategic cooperation between economic development actors and public authorities (objective 1.2.).

- AXIS 2 “Protection of the environment and promotion of a sustainable territorial development” and especially the Promotion of renewable energies and improvement of energy efficiency (objective 2.2.)

Projects having applied within the second call for strategic projects on programme priority 3 (open from April - September 2011) will be evaluated and selected in early 2012. In case the ERDF budget will not be completely exhausted by those priority 3 strategic projects to be soon selected, the Monitoring Committee could decide to open another (targeted) within the 3rd priority, too. We will keep you updated about the ongoing evaluation, upcoming selection procedures and relevant decisions on future calls.

The capitalisation and clustering process will continue in 2012. A call for capitalisation projects in the frame of this process will most probably be opened in summer 2012.

A Communication Seminar will be offered to project partners in the first half of 2012 jointly organised with another Transnational Cooperation Programme in order to develop synergies and mutually benefit from experiences in different regions.