On 2nd December, after three years of fruitful cooperation, the partnership of the ADRIPASS project, led by the Central European Initiative – Executive Secretariat, organised the final virtual conference under the topic “Strategies and tools to reduce cross border obstacles”.

About 70 participants, including prominent European and International speakers, attended the meeting.

Mr Roberto Antonione, CEI Secretary-General, welcomed the participants stressing how the importance of strengthening the transport network and promoting connectivity among the CEI member states is at the top of CEI agenda. Furthermore, the CEI Secretary-General underlined how the innovative approach implemented in the frame of ADRIPASS project was successful in promoting sustainable multimodal transport, thus significantly contributing to the social and economic integration of the territories of the ADRION region.

Ms Barbara Di Piazza, Head of the Interreg ADRION Programme Joint Secretariat, remembered how in these five years the Interreg ADRION programme focused its goals on cohesion and the support to a larger EU through the encouragement of a solid establishment of partnerships including IPA countries.

During her opening speech, the EGTC Euregio Senza Confini director Ms Sandra Sodini just stressed that cross-border obstacles can be solved thanks to the legislative and administrative support. In this sense, EGTC Euregio Senza Confini and EGTC Europaregion and the six Italian and Austrian Regions that compose them are working together in order to identify the obstacles and produce a common legislative framework and protocols to disclosure the potential of the area. Ms Sodini also pointed out the importance of ADRIPASS project results since interoperability exchange between ports and intermodal networks in the ADRION area is one of the most important goals of the strategic efforts of the vision that Friuli Venezia Giulia Region has in the last years.

Mr Matej Zakonjšek, director of the Transport Community Permanent Secretariat (TCT), stressed the transport facilitation and multimodality are the key priorities for TCT to integrate the transport market of the Western Balkans into the EU and underlined the importance of considering transport as a system. Mr Matej Zakonjšek also remarked how integrating Western Balkans ports into multimodal and sustainable transport systems besides better link them to rail and roads, will be crucial for the region’s post-COVID-19 economic recovery. Furthermore, the development of a proper strategic policy and investing in smart, green and sustainable multimodal infrastructures is an absolute need, for this reason, the ADRIPASS project, he said, can contribute with its best practices and results to improve the logistic corridor performance. To this end, Mr Zakonjsek announced the signature of a letter of support for the ADRIPASS transnational strategy.

The linkings between the ADRIPASS project activities and the Macroegional Strategy for the Adriatic and Ionian region (EUSAIR) are many. One of the main objectives of ADRIPASS has been promoting the maritime-hinterland multimodal connectivity in the ADRION region, that is why EUSAIR identified it as a particularly relevant element for its strategy and labelled ADRIPASS project. Mr Pierluigi Coppola, Pillar 2 coordinator for the EUSAIR, illustrated the strategic priorities of the European Strategy for the Adriatic-Ionian Euroregion and the added value of ADRIPASS. Mr Coppola also pointed out what synergies could be achieved between EUSAIR and the project in view of possible follow-ups and in order to capitalise the results achieved.

Furthermore, Mr Coppola noted that ADRIPASS gave essential contributions to the development of the EUSAIR masterplan thanks to the knowledge acquired through the project pilot actions and the understanding of barriers at the border crossing points in ADRION region. The proposed soft measures, smart and ICT solutions allowed to avoid expansion of the existing infrastructures and help to develop a competitive seamless intermodal connection for freight and passengers transport.

The project partners provided hints and best practices emerging from analyses and surveys focusing on the future integrated multimodal transport, on measures included in the ADRIPASS Transnational action plan for transport facilitation in the Adriatic Ionian Region, as well as pilot action results consisting in ICT tools for improving multimodal transport. The key points of the ADRIPASS transnational strategy for the improvement of multimodal transport and accessibility were shared as a final project outcome, representing a basis for a strong transnational cooperation network.

Mr Ulf Wikström – Interact, moderated the round table discussion focused on improving transport corridors efficiency through soft measures and ICT. The active debate confirmed the need for a more unified and sustainable multimodal transport system, which would connect the EU and the Western Balkan countries, supported by transnational cooperation and joint efforts to involve decision-makers. It was noted that the area presents significant differences from country to country which should be overcome through a pan-European approach, endorsement of identified measures (digitalisation, streamlining of border crossing procedures, soft measures, upgrading of infrastructure) through a coordinated political commitment.

The ADRIPASS cooperation network made up of all project partners, the Ministries of Transport of the involved countries and some regional organisations will take up the ADRIPASS recommendations and inputs for their actual implementation.