The Regional Contact Points, the Regional Advisory Group Chairs and the Programme Secretariat met on 10th January in Copenhagen.
The main purpose of the meeting was to discuss simplification measures that came out of an evaluation exercise carried out in the spring of 2011 with a focus on simplification from a project's point of view. Many recommendations are intended for the next programme period, with scope for testing them in the current programme period.
Among the simplification measures discussed were a partner search tool and a scheme for volunteer mentors with skills beneficial to developing and running an NPP project, which would fit well with the proactive approach in project development support characteristic for the NPP 2007-2013. Also, the possibility of project calls designed by RCPs and RAG Chairs was discussed, to ensure regional input into the calls. A further area of dicsussion was the important role Regional Advisory Groups play in project decisions. It was recommended to provide training for RAGs at the start of the next programme period.
In addition, the RCPs and RAG chairs discussed the outcomes of the NPP Annual Conference 2011 "Beyond 2013", which took place on 29th September 2011 in Alta, Norway. At this conference, projects were consulted about what works well in the current programme and identifying place based opportunities for the next programme. RCPs and RAG Chairs viewed the factors identified by projects to be very relevant and envisaged that they could be used to outline more concretely the expectations for project coordinators and transnational partnerships and possibly to inform criteria for higher ranking of applications.
A vision for the future of the NPP area as a vibrant area, which emerged from the conference, is used as the theme for this year's Annual Conference in November in Northern Ireland. The conference is envisaged as a forum to discuss how to transform the area into a more vibrant, healthy and innovative area. RCPs and RAG Chairs suggested looking at trends in the area to further focus the conference theme.
The Programme Secretariat presented a more proactive external communication strategy including measures to provide more frequent updates from meetings, a map feature to visualise NPP events organised by RCPs, projects and programme bodies and communication toolkits for the different groups of communicators in the programme. In connection to external communication, the Norwegian RCP presented a roadshow organised in Norway to showcase the NPP among the other transnational programmes Norway is participating in. This was viewed as a good methodology to tell a story on a local level about concrete achievements and take away misconceptions about the programme.
On an administrative note, the upcoming 9th call for strategic projects and main projects open from 16th January until 2nd May were introduced. It was also discussed how to report on the programme's complementarity with the Arctic Strategy.
Finally, the meeting was also an opportunity for the European Policies Research Centre to carry out an evaluation exercise, to get regional input for the ongoing evaluation focusing on the next programming period 2014-2020.