SERN is the main transnational network in Europe fostering relations in a multilvel perspective between Northern and Southern Europe and in particular between Sweden and Italy.

SERN has three main specificities that make it a unique example of transnational cooperation:

  • It is the only bilateral network in the European Union that brings together actors from the Northern and Southern part of the European Union.
  • It is a multilevel network where different levels of government interact and collaborate.
  • It is a network open to civil society and to private actors. Legally the network is a non-profit transnational association with legal personality and has its official seat in Bologna (Italy). The statute of the association approved in 2005 and last modified in April 2009 sets out the institutional structure of the organisation.

The collaboration processes within the network can be of different types:

  • Exchanges of information, experience, knowledge, best practices, staff exchanges, learning partnerships.
  • Development of projects financed by its members
  • Development of projects financed by external funds such as national and/or EU funding

The participatory body of the network is the General Assembly, meeting every year and electing for a two-year-period an Executive Board which has the task to take the main strategic decisions about the Network. The Board elects a Chair and Vice Chair. The Board appoints the Network Coordinator who is also the Director of the Secretariat.

Project cycle management

The development of new projects/paths of collaboration within the network is a strategic process of collaboration between a number of members on a specific theme. The project cycle management model consists of several phases in a specific order.

PHASE 1 – Indicative programming
A project proposal is submitted by one or more members through the e-platform or through the Secretariat. The Secretariat can provide support in structuring the initial project idea.

PHASE 2 – Identification
If the proposal collects the interest of at least another member, it is subsequently discussed in the context of an identification meeting which can take place at the General Assembly of the network or, alternatively, in the context of a project event or a dedicated meeting. The proposal is finalized at least in terms of common problems/needs addressed, project objective(s) and target groups. If the project partners are identified, they could also be invited to the meeting. Once established, each project group shall identify a contact person both in Sweden and Italy. The contact persons plan and lead the activities. One of the organizations to which the coordinators belong shall be appointed as the lead partner in case of an application at EU level. Where translation support is needed for the work, it should be provided by the participants’ own organizations (e.g. by international relations officers, SERN contact persons).

PHASE 3–4 Formulation and Financing
In these phases project partners from other countries are identified. The project budget and other aspects are then defined according to the specification of the EU programme it will be submitted to. The Secretariat will not be involved in the formulation unless there is a specific request from the members of the network that it be among the partners.

PHASE 5 – Implementation
The members are responsible for the implementation of the project. The Secretariat will monitor the implementation but it will not take on the responsibility of any management task directly unless there are specific requests from the partners. The Secretariat will contribute to dissemination and valorization of the results of the project.

PHASE 6 – Evaluation and Valorization
The members shall evaluate the process throughout the implementation phase and take measures to adjust the process if needed. The activity of the network is generally inspired by the approach of quality management.

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