Local Employment and Economic Development (LEED Programme)

Improving the impact of territorial wide area co-operation in the Adriatic-Ionian region


Lessons from the Implementation of the ADRION Transnational Co-operation Programme

The OECD Trento Centre for Local Development co-operated with the Emilia Romagna Region (North-East Italy appointed as Managing Authority of the ADRION Programme) and ERVET (Emilia Romagna in-house agency in charge of the technical assistance for the ADRION Programme).

The purpose of the project was to identify the needs and priorities for policy improvement and to foster the exchange of experiences, the capitalisation of acquired know-how and the generation of new and fresh thinking in the Adriatic-Ionian macro-region.

Implementation period: September 2017 - March 2019





The European Union pursues the co-operation between EU territories in the framework of its Regional Development and Cohesion Policy, funded through the European Structural and Investment Funds (ESI Funds) and aimed at strengthening economic and social cohesion by correcting imbalances between regions.

In the framework of the European Territorial Co-operation (ETC), the Interreg VB Adriatic-Ionian 2014-2020 Operational Programme (ADRION), was set up including 31 regions from 4 ERDF partner states and 4 IPA II partner states (from the Western Balkans).

The ADRION is structured according to four main priorities:

  • Innovative and smart region.
  • Sustainable region.
  • Connected region.
  • Supporting the governance of the EU Strategy for the Adriatic and Ionian Region (EUSAIR).

Moreover, relevant to be considered as part of the European regional development policy context, the European Commission adopted the European Strategy for the Adriatic and Ionian Region (EUSAIR), the macro-regional strategy endorsed by the European Council in 2014.

Both the ADRION Programme and the macro-regional strategy aim at fostering co-operation, creating synergies and enhancing the economic, social and territorial cohesion of the area.


Objectives and contents of the project

The current ADRION implementation and the progress made so far has highlighted a twofold challenge to be tackled in the near future by the Programme:

  • Pursuing the enhancement of the alignment and overall consistency between the projects funded by ADRION and the EUSAIR, also taking into consideration how to address and target the next ADRION call for proposals.
  • Envisioning the post-2020 Adriatic and Ionian co-operation space, based on the lessons learned through the ETC area relevant programmes and on the current policy framework in place in the region.

The project implementation has been phased in two parts according to these challenges.


Phase I – September/December 2017 

The OECD first defined the methodological approach to be adopted in undertaking the research, mapping the projects from the first ADRION call for proposals in order to prepare the evidence for the subsequent gap analysis focused on the 35 projects funded by ADRION under the first call for proposals. 

The gap analysis verified the consistency to the ADRION Co-operation Programme objectives and results and the compliance with the pillars and topics/specific objectives of the EUSAIR. 

A comparative analysis of ADRION vis-à-vis other relevant transnational co-operation programmes has been then undertaken, since the latter are considered useful reference for leveraging on other experiences, particularly those where ETC programmes are implemented in European contexts where a macro-regional strategy is in place (i.e. the Baltic, the Danube and the Alpine spaces).  

Finally, conclusions and recommendations have been drawn from the research, addressing measures to be taken to improve the performance of ADRION, in particular how to enhance the achievement of the expected results and how to foster a stronger co-ordination and alignment between ADRION and the EUSAIR.  


Phase I - Output


Territorial wide area co-operation in the Adriatic-Ionian region - Lessons from the Implementation of the EU ADRION Transnational Cooperation Programme


Phase II - January/March 2019

The overarching objective of the project in the second phase was to contribute envisioning the Adriatic and Ionian co-operation perspectives beyond 2020, building on the experience of current programming period, in particular on the EU ETC relevant programmes and on the current policy framework in place in the region.

That objective reflected the main interest expressed by the Emilia Romagna Region, as Managing Authority of the ADRION Programme, to get suggestions and policy recommendations able to provide arguments for assuming a political orientation and position on the ETC future, on the role of the regions (NUTS 2) therein, under the wider context of future post-2020 EU cohesion policy.

In undertaking such exercise the key policy questions posed were:

  • Analysis of main recent changes in the Adriatic-Ionian area, considering as reference framework the macroregional current strategy and its pillars;
  • Discussion of the main drivers for the future development of the macroregion;
  • Possible role of the ETC and of the future ADRION (or succeeding programme) in tackling some of the key challenges the future development of the Adriatic-Ionian area beyond 2020 entails;
  • Main ADRION and ETC functional issues to be considered for the future programme so to enable it playing the expected role and function, under a multilevel governance perspective.

From the methodological perspective the activities considered two main focuses:

  • Updating and consolidating, according to a selective focus on most relevant features, a factual solid and evidence based capacity to read the complex and heterogeneous Adriatic-Ionian macro region, also comparing it with other international transnational areas;
  • Triggering the discussion, the exchange of ideas and fresh concepts concerning the main policy implications of future transnational and strategy oriented cooperation throughout the Adriatic-Ionian macroregion, envisioning a sound mission and governance for the future ADRION programme, also building on the first phase's conclusions.

Phase II - Output


Territorial wide area co-operation in the Adriatic-Ionian region - Outlook on future Transnational Cooperation in the Region


OECD Contact

Paolo Rosso




Integrated local development



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