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Territorial Cooperation between Italy and Slovenia and EU Integration: best practice example for representatives of CEI – EU candidate countries

Territorial and cross-border cooperation, focusing on the Italy-Slovenia experience, was the main objective of a two-day study visit held in Trieste and Gorizia on 28-29 May. The event witnessed the participation of a delegation of young administrators, members of local or regional elective assemblies, officials responsible for economic development and European project planning from CEI countries involved in the EU enlargement process. Many of these countries, thanks to their geographical location, can benefit from best practices of this region.

The initiative, titled "Territorial Cooperation, Multilevel Partnerships and EU Integration: Lessons Learned at the Border Between Italy and Slovenia," was organised in the context of the well-established relationship between the CEI and the Friuli Venezia Giulia Region, in collaboration with the Robert Schuman Institute (RSI) in Budapest. This event confirms the CEI's active support for the EU enlargement process through the exchange of best practices and experiences, involving young decision-makers from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Moldova, North Macedonia, Serbia, and Ukraine.

During the visit, topics such as historical reconciliation, governance, and legal aspects, as well as collaboration within the framework of "Nova Gorica and Gorizia European Capital of Culture 2025," were addressed. Understanding cross-border cooperation methods provided participants with concrete examples of joint territorial enhancement initiatives and projects, with the aim of transferring best practices to priority areas such as the Western Balkans and Eastern Europe, namely Moldova and Ukraine.

Secretary General Roberto Antonione, opened the inaugural session in Trieste on 28 May together with Barbara Zilli, Regional Minister of the Friuli Venezia Giulia Region; Doris Pack, the President of the Robert Schuman Institute; and Gregor Šuc the Consulate General of the Republic of Slovenia in Trieste.

The following day in Gorizia, among other things, featured a roundtable on cross-border cooperation in view of the GO!2025 initiative. The Mayor of Gorizia, Rodolfo Ziberna and the Deputy Mayor of Nova Gorica Anton Harej illustrated the collaboration path implemented between the two border cities. Other regional and international representatives shared their regional and international cooperation perspectives.

In summary, Antonione highlighted the Organisation's collaborative approach, stating: "Within the 'Local Dimension of CEI,' we intend to work together with institutional actors and other stakeholders involved in local development to promote the untapped potential of local areas." He also emphasised that the event served as a platform to showcase positive examples of cross-border cooperation between various regions and to share best practices with other areas in Western Balkan and Eastern European countries. An initiative aimed at contributing to the European integration process.

This event represented an important opportunity for exchange and training for young administrators from non-EU CEI countries, strengthening dialogue and cooperation between European border regions and supporting the European integration process, as emphasised by CEI Deputy Secretary General Nina Kodelja, who moderated the event.

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