EWRC 2021: Republic of Srpska active in Regional Cooperation
As every year, the Republic of Srpska actively participated in the 19th edition of the European Week of Region Cities 2021 organized by the Committee of the Regions and the European Commission's Directorate-General for Regional and Urban Policy (DG REGIO) during the period October 11/14 in Brussels.
Within the framework of the main event, the workshop "Interoperability of digital solutions" was held on 12 October organized by Representation of the South Moravian Region to the EU as the leader of our consortium, where the Republic of Srpska took the role as a partner and contributor among many other regions from Hungary, Romania, Czech Republic, Poland, Spain, Italy and Croatia.
The aim of the workshop was to exchange experiences, challenges, examples of good practices and potential solutions for the harsh times where pandemic left us with, specifically in the fields of digitalization.
In addition, the Republic of Srpska was represented by the Minister of Education and Culture, Mrs. Natalija Trivić, who addressed all the participants via a video link, emphasizing the importance of digitalization and distance learning, but also promoting "The Online Learning Platform" that Srpska implemented during the pandemic:
"Since the pandemic started, we have never been in a situation where we uniquely, in the entire educational system of primary and secondary schools, apply distance learning. Teaching through a television service for primary schools, with the possibility of online monitoring, was the best solution provided, having in mind that technical limitations of internet access were present in some areas of the entity."
COVID-19 has caused a major disruption of education, affecting an entire generation of students. To make sure no child is left behind in the situation in which instruction moves to distance and online learning, increased efforts are needed to ensure all children have access to digital learning tools, platforms and equipment and do not lag behind their peers. Within this crisis is also an opportunity to accelerate innovations and digitalization in the education sector.
Digitalisation plays a crucial role in transforming the economy and society and provides future-proof solutions. Interoperability of digital solutions in domains such as transport, agriculture, education and open source software applied in these areas and digitalisation for and by citizens are two crucial elements of this transformation. Speakers will showcase experiences and challenges that their regions have been facing due to the COVID-19 crisis and post-pandemic recovery.
The public sector is no longer afraid of digitalisation so we can expect it to increase; however, it is associated with some specific challenges. Different panels in our session will present best practices among the regions in the various domains and their positive impact on public procurement, focusing on citizen engagement, making citizens' lives easier and helping companies to prosper.
Digitalisation brings added value in the cycle of policy decision making. Our workshop will present the different practices with regard to the different levels of digitalisation by which regions are following the priorities and ambitions set by European Commission. At the same time, it is the beginning of future interregional cooperation. The session will include the element of the COVID-19 crisis in terms of increased use of digital services which have further highlighted the importance of ensuring a system without borders, and a fair and accessible single market for digital services.
The European Week of Regions and Cities is an annual four-day event during which cities and regions showcase their capacity to create growth and jobs, implement European Union cohesion policy, and prove the importance of the local and regional level for good European governance.
The event was created in 2003 when the European Committee of the Regions invited Brussels-based local and regional representations to the European Union to open their doors to visitors simultaneously. One year later the European Commission's DG for Regional Policy also joined the adventure.
Developing from the initial concept, the event has become a European networking platform for experts in regional and local development. Exchange of good practice in economic development and social inclusion, cross-border cooperation, public-private partnerships, regional innovation and community-led local development have become some of its many topics.
Over the years, the event has grown into the key event on EU Regional Policy. It welcomes some 6.000 participants in October each year (local, regional, national and European decision-makers and experts) for more than 100 workshops and debates, exhibitions and networking opportunities.
In addition to the Brussels-based workshops, local events are run from September to November all over Europe.