I had the pleasure to present at the conference “Challenges for the new Cohesion Policy 2014-2010” in Riga, February 4-6, organized by the Regional Studies Association, Latvian EU Presidency and the University of Latvia. The conference was very inspiring and outstandingly well-organized. It started with a visit to OlainFarm, a successful Latvian pharmaceutical company, which has benefited from EU structural investment into its R&D capacity and exports as far as to Peru and Indonesia. The next two days were packed with presentations, and, as an RSA representative joked, this was one of the unique conferences where policymakers not only make an opening speech, but also stay throughout and even present.
Good news: colleagues from my old job at PPMI have finalized the project Evaluation of the impact of EU structural support on the implementation of the horizontal priority “Gender equality and non-discrimination” for the Lithuanian Ministry of Finance, where I was the key researcher and did most of the data collection and analysis. As I have written for PPMI website in the conclusions of the final conference, “the evaluation stated that groups experiencing discrimination benefited from EU structural investments, as illustrated by project case studies and a short promotional video created in the framework of this evaluation. However, there was a lack of a strategic approach to the horizontal priority and coherence at the level of Operational Programmes. This will have to be strengthened during the new programming period. Although the evaluation found similar trends in neighbouring countries, the cross-country comparison allowed identifying practices worth learning from. E.g. in Poland there was an inter-institutional equality network in place, Sweden benefited from the competences of equal opportunities experts at the local level, Latvia commissioned sectoral guidelines for the construction sector, and a goal to combat stereotypes was put forward in Estonia. The findings of the evaluation were presented discussed with stakeholders at an international conference. Representatives of project managers, NGOs, various ministries and the European Institute for Gender Equality took part.”