Town twinning started after the Second World War. The idea was simple: to reconcile relationships ruined by war. The coming together of communities helped create a peaceful post-war Europe. But are twin towns still relationship-builders?
Although Szombathely (HU) and Graz (AT) maintain a twin-town relationship and are only 40 kilometres apart, it is nearly impossible to travel from one to the other with public transport. Google maps suggests that it is easier and faster to travel this distance by foot. In a recent debate in Hungarian Parliament, László Palkovics, Minister of Innovation and Technology, pointed out that solutions for improving public transport have already been explored. He quoted CONNECT2CE as a good example. So what did they do?
For example they introduced Microtransit, a transport planner without fixed timetables that focuses on customer needs. Microtransit improved connectivity across the border by significantly reducing transit times between Austrian and Hungarian trains. CONNECT2CE also helped prepare a new scheduled bus service between Szombathely and Graz. It will soon start running and bring the neighbours closer together.
Learn more about how to improve regional and cross-border railway and public transport connections by involving micro public transport.
What have Amsterdam and Prešov in common? At the first glance nothing at all, but both of these European cities, no matter how different they are, demonstrate that a reduction in the use of private cars is not just desirable but possible. Cycling is the way ahead.
Nowadays, cycling is becoming more and more popular and not just in Netherlands. In Prešov, Slovakia, promoting cycling as a mode of transport has been a long-term goal. It was however not an easy journey full of obstacles, both physical as well as emotional. Physical because of a need to create that needed cycling path network, and emotional because of a need to encourage its commuters to start loving their bike commute.
Thanks to cooperation in our project CentralMeetBike this journey has become bit easier. And even though the project finished 5 years ago, cooperation of its partners continues to flourish. Ever since, Prešov has been shifting from one gear to another and follow up investments recently led to 8 new state-of-the-art bike parking stations. Thanks to active engagement of the commuters new stations were built in the locations that are most frequented and in a need of such solutions. As of November, cyclists in Prešov can securely park their bicycles and go about their day.
Sometimes even the simple actions can have a huge impact. Learn more about how smart commuting solutions make our cities smarter.
What is connecting the Chanforan Monument in Piemonte, the Evangelical Church of Peace in Jawor and the Wartburg Castle in Eisenach? The newly established Route of Reformation.
All these places have been stages for the reformation movement that during the Middle Ages represented a revolution in the Christianity world.
Thanks to the work of the ECRR project partners, all these sites and many more are now part of one route, which offers you a journey through the different expressions of the reformation process, with unique characteristics in each territories.
The Council of Europe certifies cultural routes as “an invitation to travel and to discover the rich and diverse heritage of Europe”, and in April 2019 the Reformation Route became part of this prestigious group.
Thanks to this recognition and the founding of the Routes of Reformation Association by the ECRR partnership, the network will stay alive after the project end. It will support local tourism, preventing the common history and heritage of these places from being forgotten.
Discover the Routes of Reformation Platform, where you can explore tangible and intangible legacies of reformation from 7 central European countries. (linked to https://reformationroutes.eu/)
Can FabLabs influence our shopping behaviour in the near future?
As leading test-beds of innovation, Fablabs are open to all and serve as spaces where you can create and invent. They became more popular after demonstrating their benefits in prosthetics industry, pushing the costs of a leg-prosthesis 3D printed from €3.600 to €45.
So, why supporting networks of Fablabs?
Europe calls for new business forms. This is what Fablabs are. On top they integrate such new businesses directly into our societies. By creating networks of FabLabs local entrepreneurship and innovation ecosystems gets an extra kick. Take the Rapitag, a start-up company from Germany. Their fablab-based product, combines classical EAS (Electronic-Article-Surveillance) hardtags and payment processes in retail. The world’s first patented security tag can open itself automatically by using smart materials. It allows the customer to pay directly via an app, after which the security band on the product opens and the customer can self-check-out without having to queue.
Thanks to cooperation local start-ups can accelerate their ideas and businesses, like Rapitag. Project FabLabnet offered them a coaching ground sending their success to next level. In their transnational mentoring and coach pilots, they demonstrated the value-added of investing into mutual exchange on user-centred design or balanced service offers when it comes to innovative products. Learn more about the network of fablabs created by our FabLabnet project.
The Energy Performance of Buildings Directive requires that all new buildings are nearly zero-energy (nZEB) from 31 December 2020. So the clock is ticking.
Such renovations however require significant investments. Local municipalities are often challenged to find budget for such renovations upfront and return on this investment could only be seen in years.
Combining public with private funds is a great option, which can already be seen in practice around Europe, but it often applies to large-scale projects. So how could small municipality raise funds to renovate their cultural centre or school?
Partners in our eCentral project are testing various financing options, which allow municipalities to combine their funds with those of private investors on much smaller scale. In Velenje for example, by using combined crowdfunding approach: a crowdfunding campaign on a platform and traditional campaign collecting contributions as donations and sponsorships, they aim to raise up to half of the investment needed for the renovation of University for Lifelong Learning.
Thanks to it this building that has significant historical, cultural and social value for the local community, can continue serving its community without any future worries about its heating or electricity costs.
Learn more about the nZEB approach, as an optimal and cost-effective solution for the renovation and construction of public buildings.
The European chemical industry transports more than 1.5 billion tonnes of chemical products annually and it requires the strictest safety measures, because in case of an accident consequences are simply too great.
Shifting the transport of chemicals from road to the other means of transport can significantly decrease this risk and in addition also save our environment. Often however businesses associate this shift with increased costs and therefore are unwilling to make a change.
Partners in our ChemMultimodal project prove that shifting from unimodal road transport to multimodal transport by combining road, short sea shipping and rail transports is indeed move in the right direction. Through their pilot actions, project already managed to save more than 8448 tonnes of CO2, but more importantly they managed to change attitude of more than 60 companies, which now understand that safe and sustainable transport is critical to the future of the European chemical industry.
Together with the companies, project partners identified 45 transport routes in central Europe, which offer a huge potential of shift from pure road to a multimodal solutions. This is a great step towards improved safety and better environmental performance.