The Agropol project supported by DG AGRI of the European Commission was launched in January 2016 with the aim to provide and develop practical knowledge on how to strengthen the agriculture and food sector through cross-border cooperation.

The agricultural sector is currently facing many socio-economic challenges and is looking for new and more sustainable business models at the regional and local level. Working with partners across the border who deal with similar environmental and socio-economic challenges can offer innovative solutions and new business opportunities to entrepreneurs and farmers and, at the same time, it can make the agro-food sector more resilient and sustainable. Cross-border cooperation can therefore be an effective means to stimulate regional development and economic growth in Europe.

A research consortium including IDEA (Belgium), METIS (Austria) and the University of Ghent (Belgium) selected two case study regions involved in ongoing cross-border cooperation initiatives in the agri-food-forestry sector:

  • The EUROACE Euroregion between Portugal and Spain
  • The cross-border region between Carinthia in the South of Austria and Slovenia

In close cooperation with regional authorities and local actors, the project partners conducted an in-depth study on existing cooperation activities and potential business areas where cross-border activities could be of mutual benefit and developed a common cross-border cooperation strategy for the agro-food sector in each region.

In a second step, the project assisted relevant stakeholders in both regions with the implementation of pilot cooperation projects. The projects looked beyond the confines of traditional industries and national borders to develop new forms of cooperation between the relevant stakeholders in order to increase their competitiveness.

A “learning-by-doing approach” including different actors along the “value chain” in agricultural production was applied. The experiences from these pilot activities serve as a benchmark for a cross-border agro-food cooperation model which can be transferred to other regions in Europe. Therefore, the project will organise three dissemination events in October and November 2018 directed at stakeholders from the public and private sector interested in cross-border cooperation between rural regions in Europe.