SERN is the result of a long-term process of cooperation and exchange between
Italian and Swedish actors. The idea
of strengthening the relations between the two areas was launched by AICCRE Emilia-Romagna and pool of Italian
municipalities in the summer of 2002 and took shape in the following spring with the organization of the conference Town Twinning Sweden Emilia-Romagna, supported by the European Commission in the framework of the Town Twinning programme.
The Conference Town Twinning Sweden Emilia-Romagna was organised in the spring of 2003 by a pool of municipalities (Bertinoro Municipality, Ravenna Municipality, Brisighella Municipality, Faenza Municipality, Cesena Municipality, Cervia Municipality and Cesenatico Municipality) together with AICCRE Emilia-Romagna and had as an objective the launch of a wide process of cooperation among local authorities (and not only) of the two areas. At the TTSER Conference took part more than 120 representatives of local authorities, schools, no-profit organisations and economic actors coming from many parts in Sweden.
themes discussed during the sessions were: town twinnings, economic partnerships,
cultural exchanges and exchanges on welfare policies.
At the end of the conference it was decided to organise a follow-up conference in Sweden during 2004 and it was agreed to set up two “contact groups”, one in Emilia-Romagna chaired by AICCRE and one in Sweden chaired by Norrbotten.
The two contact groups have had the task to grant continuity to the whole
process between the two conferences and work as point of reference for those
actors, in particular municipalities, interested in participating in the
Furthermore, the two groups have had the task to identify the phases through which achieving the formal creation of the network. In order to address the issue a meeting was arranged between the two contact groups in the spring of 2004 in Stockholm. From the meeting emerged a joint proposal for a statute and four areas on which to concentrate the activities of the network were identified and it was decided to set up four working groups.
Conference Active European Citizenship was organised in June 2004 by the
counties of Norrbotten and Stockholm in cooperation with the Region Västra
Götaland, in partnership with NUTEK and The Swedish Association of Municipalities
and County Councils.
The Conference saw the participation of more than 80 Italian local authorities and a number of private actors coming from all over the region. The Conference objective was twofold. On the one hand the aim was to deepen the mutual knowledge in a number of (local) policy areas while on the other hand, the objective was to launch the constitutive process of the SERN Network.
During the conference the themes discussed were the following:
- European Citizenship: the importance of partnerships and town twinnings
- Long-Life learning: a systematic exchange of experiences aimed at concrete results
- A global perspective on environmental issues: from climate to health
- Culture and integration: creating synergies from diversity
- New European entrepreneurship: collaboration turning weaknesses in advantages
- New technologies and their application in the field of governance
In the framework of the conference the four working groups (environment,
social economy, culture and education and entrepreneurship) have gathered
for the first time and identified a number of themes which could be developed
further. Attached below you will find the report elaborated by each working
In the final session 35 local authorities were willing to participate in the constitutive process of SERN signed a letter of intents.
the approval of the statute by the 22 representatives (11 Italian rep. and
11 Swedish rep.) elected as members of the Interim Executive Board by those
institutions which have signed the letter of intents, the constitutive phase
of the SERN network which will end in January 2005 with the formal beginning
of the activities of the Network.
The first meeting of the Interim Executive Board took place on October 8th and 9th 2004. Together with the approval of the statute and the structure of the network the Board has elected a Chair (Mr. Kent Ögren, County Council of Norrbotten) and a Vice Chair (Ms Silvia Bartolini, AICCRE Emilia-Romagna).
The activities of the Network began in January 2005. The first General Assembly of the Network took place in March 2005 in Imola. In that occasion Kent Ogren (Norrbotten County Council) was elected chairman of the first SERN Executive Board.
Since the begining of its activities has grown considerably in terms of members from 28 to 54. The network has been developing some 43 activities(EU projects, esxchanges, tudy visits) of which 28 were EU funded projects for a total of more than 1.300.000 €. The raison d'etre of the network is to make citizens active and therefore to engage as much as possible both public and private actors from the civil society into transnational activities in order to foster long-term links between the areas involved..
As a result of the work done in its first years of activities the network has been identified by the European Commission (DG EAC) at European level as one of the organisations to show case in the field of thematic networking among twinned cities. The role acquired by SERN in the context of the bilateral relations between Sweden and Italy has also been recognised in occasion of the lunch meeting between the representatives of the Network, the Swedish Royals and the Swedish foreign Minister in the context of the state visit to Italy in May 2009.