Head of Secretariat Christian Byrith shares his thoughts on how the coronavirus pandemic affects the North Sea Region community, and what this may imply for the next North Sea Region Programme.
The corona crisis has changed many things both at work and in our daily life. Many of us wonder if we will ever get back to the way things were, meeting other people, going to work and maybe even visit other countries. There is, however, no simple answer to any of those questions and all we can do at the moment is to carry on as best we can.
This may all sound a bit gloomy, but there are rays of sunshine in all the grey. One, which has surprised me very positively, is the way all our projects carry on delivering their activities. Yes, there are challenges; meetings have changed from being physical and are now on-line; some activities have been postponed rather than given up. And last but not least we have all had to learn to live with a high degree of uncertainty.
Despite all the challenges, we can see that projects continue and carry on regardless. In times of difficulties, cooperation and mutual help is more important than ever and instead of being a luxury, transnational cooperation – and cooperation in general – has proven to be an ingrained part of how we do business.
Looking at future scenarios, where the corona crisis will either be over or has come under sufficient control, the most likely perspective is that we will be facing some kind of economic crisis. Thousands of jobs and millions of euros have been lost in the North Sea Region as a result of the corona crisis.
All of this brings back memories of the aftermath of the last financial crisis which emerged just as we were launching the Interreg IVB Programme. I am happy to say that many of our projects at that time made important contributions towards helping us through the crisis.
The new Interreg North Sea Region Programme VIB is still underway, but the contours are becoming clearer and the green transition is very high on the agenda. It is crucial that the new Programme becomes part of the solution in terms of addressing the challenges which we will be presented to as part of the new crisis.
Our job is to do our best to get our economy and our societies back on track but, and this is important, doing so in a climate-friendly way. Many of the projects under the North Sea Region Programme are well placed to help and assist this process. We will share some examples of this in subsequent blog posts.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Christian Byrith is Head of Secretariat at the Interreg North Sea Region Programme.