Archive of 2017

EWRC 2017 Booking Open: Transnational Networks as Agents of Regional Change

Jul 19, 2017

Registrations are open for the workshop entitled ‘Regions and change – the transformative power of transnational networks’ organised by two PURPLE Regions (Surrey and Flanders) and 3 non-PURPLE regions (Regione Toscana in Italy; Vallée de la Bruche joint municipalities in the Grand Est of France; and Krapina-Zagorje County in Western Croatia). See our previous article for details.

The event will take place on 11 October, 11:15-13:00, at the Liaison Agency Flanders-Europe (VLEVA), Avenue de Cortenberg 71, 1040 Brussels. Register at EWRC 2017 webpages using workshop code: 11B94. If showing as fully booked, please email as there may be further places available.

This year, in addition to events in Brussels during the October week, 29 local events will take place all over the EU within the framework of the European Week of Regions and Cities. These local events will be in the form of citizens' dialogues and are an integral part of 'Reflecting on Europe', an initiative of the CoR offering a space for citizens to present their concerns, thoughts and ideas about the future of Europe. Our Croatian partners are organising such a local event to coincide with their Sustainable Energy Finance and Investment Summit Croenergy in Zabok, Croatia. If you or your colleagues are interest you will find the agenda and further information here.

Calling Green Infrastructure Experts

Jul 5, 2017

PURPLE member region Flanders, represented by The Flemish Land Agency (VLM) and with the support of PURPLE, is looking for specialists in green infrastructure to take part in an expert group session on the development of strategy for green infrastructure within the land-use and land development policies of peri-urban regions across Europe in October 2017.

This expert group session is part of a project led by VLM on green and blue infrastructure for grey peri-urban landscapes, Green4Grey, and funded through the EU LIFE+ programme. The Green4Grey project enables investment in the design and development of green and blue landscape elements in the Flemish Belt around Brussels and in 'De Wijers', a pond and valley system in the peri-urban area of Hasselt-Genk.

Further details about the call for green infrastructure experts is available here.

To ensure an appropriate balance of expertise in the expert group we are asking people to express interest in participating by completing this form and returning it to the email addresses indicated on the form itself by 18 August 2017.

ROBUST June 2017

Jun 30, 2017

Horizon 2020 project ROBUST was approved with conditions by the European Commission in December 2016 as previously reported.

These conditions were subsequently successfully met with and both the Grant Agreement between the European Commission and the lead partner (Wageningen University) and the Consortium Agreement between all 24 project partners from 11 countries have now been signed. The project formally commenced as from 1 June 2017 and its first full partner meeting took place in the Netherlands a week later. PURPLE was represented at this meeting by both treasurer Paul Van der Sluys and Vincent O'Connell who has now been engaged by PURPLE to oversee its work on the project.

The meeting represented an opportunity for a project partners to spend time together and to learn more about their respective organisations, regions and the roles which they intend to play over the next 48 months of the project. Vincent shared details of early thoughts as to the PURPLE role in the project. In short – PURPLE will take the lead on a Work Package (WP) which is explicitly about policy recommendations and it will also have some input to all seven other Work Packages. The PURPLE role begins in month one of the project and continues throughout the four year during which its work will take place.

In large part the project is designed to take forward the work that was done under the OECD project RURBAN some for five years ago. As PURPLE was itself directly involved in that piece of work, it is uniquely well-placed both to take the work itself forward and to make a contribution to the ROBUST project from its earliest stages.

At the 26th PURPLE General Assembly held in Brussels on June 27 PURPLE member regions were able to hear more about the project,  about PURPLE’s plans for its work on the project, and to begin to explore ways in which individual member regions might be directly involved. The event was also the opportunity to signal the launch of what is to be termed the ROBUST Project Hub.  We anticipate that this will be an ongoing piece of work whereby we will aggregate existing information about policy as regards rural-urban linkages and begin to develop a series of reports and findings as the project develops.

By the project conclusion the intention is that the Hub (essentially an umbrella term for the work we will do) will have developed a number of thematic reports and will have contributed to other strands of work within the project and have arrived as a “manifesto” type of document with regards to future policy frameworks.

As has been reported previously the ROBUST project represents the first occasion upon which the PURPLE AISBL network has been directly involved in a funded EU project as a partner in its own right. It became very clear during the first meeting that PURPLE has an important cross-cutting role to play in the project and is well positioned to take forward a significant piece of work on behalf of both of the consortium partners and with its own member regions.

PURPLE at Civil Society Days 2017

Jun 27, 2017

PURPLE President Helyn Clack yesterday took part in an EESC event organised as part of Civil Society Days 2017. Mrs Clack was one of six panellists asked to consider how both urban and rural areas might best be developed in order that territorial social cohesion be achieved.

In a departure from her prepared intervention, Mrs Clack took the opportunity to respond to a number of key points that had been made by those who had spoken previously to herself.

She took the opportunity to both welcome and echo the pronouncements made by others that, for example, the rural and urban dichotomy was outdated and no longer sufficient or appropriate for the purposes of understanding how places work in practice. She also lent her support to the notion that both urban and rural areas (whatever it is that we mean by that typology) have distinct but not exclusive attractions.

The main focus of what she went on to say was related to public services and public financial interventions.

Mrs Clack sounded a clear warning that where the city limits end should not be the place which public funding intervention stops. But at the same time we should all be less reliant on public money and more focussed on local growth and private investment. Our key emphasis therefore should be upon how best to support such growth as opposed to how to directly support areas in the absence of such growth.

The rationale for such an approach is simple .... There is insufficient money available to enable the first to happen even if it were thought to be desirable.

It is, she pointed out, abundantly clear that peri urban and rural areas need proper housing, proper schools, proper jobs and proper health services. But it is too simplistic to say that simply demanding that this happens is about balancing places: more accurately this is about balancing the needs of people in different types of places. We must never lose sight of people or become disengaged from them. Infrastructure development for example needs to be sympathetic, it needs to fit with the rural and the peri-urban places in which it occurs. And when we talk about fit we need to ensure that at every stage what we do is done with the direct involvement of local residents and local businesses.

In short then, what happens in peri-urban and rural areas needs to be inclusive and participative and it needs not to be predicated upon any assumption of external support. Such an approach has the dual benefit of neither underestimating the value of genuine local engagement nor of creating or encouraging an over-reliance on public funding which no longer exists.

PURPLE & Friends at EWRC 2017

Jun 19, 2017

For the third year running PURPLE will be showcased at one of the official workshops of the European Week of Regions and Cities (EWRC). This year, two PURPLE regions (Surrey and Flanders) together with 3 non-PURPLE regions (Regione Toscana in Italy; Vallée de la Bruche joint municipalities in the Grand Est of France; and Krapina-Zagorje County in Western Croatia) will be organising a workshop about how transnational networks can act as regional change agents.

This event, entitled ‘Regions and change – the transformative power of transnational networks’ aims to increase appreciation of the relevance, value and contribution made by transnational cooperation networks and how these can and should be supported for the benefit of the broader European project.

Along with PURPLE three other such networks – showcased by some of their member regions involved in the workshop - will come together to share lessons, thoughts and aspirations for the future:

  • FEDARENE - European Federation of Agencies and Regions for Energy and the Environment);

  • ERIAFF - European Regions for Innovation in Agriculture, Food and Forestry; and

  • FECOF - European Federation of Forest Municipalities

By the event’s completion, it is hoped that participants/attendees will have had the chance to learn more about transnational regional cooperation, its value and relevance to policy development, and will hopefully go away encouraged and inspired as to how they themselves might be involved in current and forthcoming debates on EU regional policy and programmes.

26th PURPLE General Assembly

May 29, 2017

PURPLE's 26th General Assembly meeting will take place between 14:00 and 17:00 on 27 June 2017 in Brussels.

In addition to the usual administrative duties and association activity updates participants will have a chance to exchange with one of Mr Jean-Claude Juncker’s Cabinet Advisers to discuss the White Paper on the Future of the Europe that was published by the European Commission earlier this year. This will be a unique opportunity to feed directly into the debate on the future of Europe.

A significant part of the meeting will be dedicated to the ROBUST project (Horizon 2020 funded) in which PURPLE is a full partner to discuss opportunities for PURPLE members to contribute.

The agenda and papers for the meeting are available in the member-restricted area.

Please note that registration is open to PURPLE member regions only or to others by special invitation. To register please email by Friday 16 June 2017 (late registrations will be considered).