February 14-15, 2018: UMBRELLA kick-off meeting

On February 14-15 UMBRELLA kick-off meeting took place in the frame of the celebrations for ERB 20th Anniversary. UMBRELLA, within whom ERB plays the role of Lead Partner, aims at developing know-how capacities for small local and regional organisations in the South Baltic Programme area to initiate their active participation in the cross-border cooperation in daily activities.

Welcomed by Sebastian Magier, Head of ERB International Permanent Secretariat, Project and Associated Partners had the chance to have a first contact and discussion with each other thanks to the ice-breaker organized by UMBRELLA’s Project Manager Valentina Scandola. Divided into three groups, they were asked to identify and discuss motivations, ethics, values related to capacity building. What emerged during the ice-breaker is, for example, that participants saw travelling, improvement of language skills and exchange of idea as key factors to motivate people to build capacity in a cross-border context. At the same time elements such as the clear division of responsibilities and the identification of clear objectives were considered to be fundamental in order to make a team successful. Features like mutual trust and good networking atmosphere emerged also to be necessary to run an engaging cooperation.

The second part of the meeting was devoted to defining the priority axis, objectives, duration and budget of the project along with a clear definition of the capacity building. Indeed, the latter cannot be considered a goal itself but it must be taken as the process of growth whose impact can be perceived in the long-term capable of being influenced both positively and negatively. The following Briefing workshop had the aim of introducing people to the project to make them discuss key issues.What emerged from the workshop is that barriers at a local level and the complex bureaucracy are capable of delaying the results of joint actions; linguistic, financial and administrative barriers are perceived as an insurmountable obstacle; the lack of information makes small organizations unaware of the advantages of cross-border cooperation.

In this regard, divided once more into three groups, participants addressed three issues: the communication strategy;  new ideas for micro-activities, cross-border conferences and awareness raising events; a strategy to involve associated partners. As for the communication strategy, according to the participants, a larger use of meetings and simple language, the showcase of benefits along with the adoption of a simplified message, the creation of a community for newcomers and stakeholder may benefit the project. Micro-activities such as training, face to face meetings, the involvement of cross-border cooperation testimonials, the organizations of awareness-raising events – the first of whom will take place in Elblag on June 7th – are also seen as a key to ensure the achievements of the goals.

In the final part of the two-day long meeting, participants met Joint Secretariat Project Officer Ms  Agnieszka Limanówka. Here are some of the issues addressed by Ms Limanòwka: expectations and requirements of the Interreg South Baltic Programme 2014-2020: financial and reporting discipline, changes in the project-types of changes, cost eligibility, accounting documents, project budget structure (budget lines), reporting, clarification and reimbursement, reporting period; compliance with the programme rules, partnership.