Today, NALAS hosted one more regional exchange for the 11 cities members of the EU Projects City Network in the Western Balkans, initiated by the City of Sarajevo and supported by GIZ and NALAS. The support we are providing aims to increase twinning opportunities and strengthen project development capacities of the cities.

The “Peer Exchange:  Learning from the City of Rijeka’s experiences in EU project development and implementation” was used to share the experiences of the City of Rijeka in EU project development and implementation, discuss the key challenges that need to be taken into consideration from the perspective of city administration and brainstorm on any potential cooperation opportunities.

In an interactive interview format, Ms. Suzana Belošević, a Senior Advisor to the Mayor of the City of Rijeka for EU projects shared Rijeka’s approach and tips and tricks gained in different phases and dynamics in EU projects, from the pre-accession process and small soft projects, to EU membership and big investment projects. Ms. Belošević reflected on the proactive role of the City in EU fundraising, preparing and developing City’s administration, challenges in EU project development and implementation, finding good and reliable project partners, challenges in implementing big infrastructure investment projects, as well as maintaining the built infrastructure and giving it a content and life for the years to come. Ms. Belošević gave valuable advices on how to link City’s development strategies with the potential EU projects, how to prioritise, how to involve the political level, how to build local alliances and how to gradually develop the absorption capacities. She provided inspiring examples on how Rijeka transformed various part of the City, giving abandoned buildings and spaces a new life.

Participants were very much interested to learn about the ways Rijeka organises its teams for EU projects, how they recruit and motivate staff and what are their best projects.

“Whatever you write in the project proposal, you need to implement afterwards. So, think about what will give the best result for the years to come”, said Ms. Belošević.

The peer exchange was moderated by Ms. Jelena Janevska, NALAS Programme Director.