Creating a true cooperation and collaboration strategy, which allows the Algarve, Alentejo and Andalusia to have more competitive capacity and gain scale, through common projects, is the objective of the Cross-Border Cooperation Protocol of the Alentejo-Algarve-Andalusia Euroregion Work Community. , which was signed in Faro this wednesday.
José Apolinário and António Ceia da Silva, presidents of the Coordination and Regional Development Commissions (CCDR) of the Algarve and Alentejo, respectively, and Juan Manuel Moreno, president of the Junta de Andalusia, were the signatories of this protocol, which replaces the extinct agreements between the two Portuguese regions and the Spanish region of Andalusia.
At the session, which was attended by Ana Abrunhosa, Minister of Territorial Cohesion, the three leaders focused on the benefits that the Euroregion has already brought to their territories, but also those that are yet to come.
And it was the future that José Apolinário spoke in his speech at the protocol signing session.
The president of the CCDR Algarve defended the advancement of navigability from the Guadiana to Mértola, which, in practice, involves marking and dredging the river between Pomarão and that village of Baixo Alentejo, so that larger boats can navigate safely at anytime and even when the tide is low.
From Pomarão to Vila Real de Santo António, navigability has already been guaranteed, using European funds for cross-border cooperation projects.
José Apolinário also wants to increase cruise ship connections between Seville and Portimão, as well as the conclusion of Eurovelo 1 – Atlantic Coast Route.
On the way, he assured that he is on the side of Andalusia in the desire to advance the high-speed rail link between Seville and the Algarve region.
This was, moreover, a topic that was also addressed by both Ana Abrunhosa and Juan Manuel Moreno. And if the minister said that she has already seen the situation "more difficult", the president of the Junta de Andalusia guaranteed that there is openness from Madrid, but also "a lot of pressure" on the part of the regional government.
As for the protocol that was signed, the Andalusian official defended that it is “a window of opportunity to promote territorial cohesion and sustainable development”, but also to increase the resilience of the three regions.
«Probably, the south of the Iberian Peninsula is one of the most vulnerable territories to the consequences of climate change», so, defends Juan Moreno, the mitigation of its effects should be one of the priorities of the Euroregion.
In this field, CILIFO – Iberian Center for Research and Fight against Forest Fires, is a co-financed project within the scope of the Interreg España Portugal Cross-Border Cooperation Program (POCTEP 2014 – 2020), within which the Andalusian delegation visited, on the fifth the Algarve Regional Emergency and Civil Protection Center and the Loulé Permanent Service Helicopter Base.
António Ceia da Silva, for his part, emphasized the importance of cooperation, but also the role that the central governments of each country can play, in order to make it more effective.
“We cannot have good projects on the Spanish side that do not progress due to lack of signatures from Portugal and vice versa”, he said, adding that “a truly concerted strategy between the three regions is needed”.
«For me, there are three decisive issues: smart specialization, joint promotion of the three regions and water», said the president of CCDR Algarve.
As for concrete projects, the minister Ana Abrunhosa pointed to three: CILIFO, the Centro de Investigación Universitário Alentejo-Algarve-Andaluzia (CIU3A) and the Centro Magalhães, which will focus on themes related to culture and creativity.
«These three projects represent investments of 73,3 million euros, financed in more than 50 million by the POCTEP operational program», concludes the minister.
Photos: Hugo Rodrigues | Sul Informação