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Pilot action development : Do’s and don’ts

2022-06-10 13:24 by French presidency and all participants of the 3d Espon Pilot action policy lab

On 28th April, Pilot action coordinators exchanged views on lessons learned in the third pilot action policy lab organised jointly by the French Presidency and the ESPON EGTC. In order to enable future pilot actions organisers and participants to benefit from the experience underway, Pilot actions coordinators were asked to share with others what in hindsight had gone well and what conversely, they would have planned differently.

These points were brought together in a short “Do’s and Don’ts” table. We are sharing an abridged version of this document designed as a “living document” to be further amended and enriched as projects evolve and practices change as time goes by.

Don’t s


Do not rush the starting phase


Take time to get the focus right :

– Place the project in an overarching EU strategic framework or legislative process relevant to all Member states

– Integrate state of the art evidence from national and international research

– Better use of NTCCP members could be made: e.g. via “support groups”

Plan the development phases of your project clearly and be clear about the work you expect from others

– Consult with various players before starting (networks of local stakeholders with commons needs, international expertise)

– Investing more time than planned on the project prefiguration and conceptual phase can secure a good start

– Work packages and exchanges are complex and require dedicate staff (time, resources, ensure that all partners get something out of the project)

Cooperation is not enough, it is a means to an end Consider the sell back factor: What’s in it for partners and stakeholders?

– Clarity on a commonly agreed objective allows for flexibility in the implementation phase

– Managing to set up a multilevel partnership with local and regional actors each supported by their national authorities and European actors is an asset

– Offering different entry points in the PA in order to attract the interest of actors from a variety of levels

Do not stay in your corner ask    for advice and support Interact and Espon EGTC can assist by:  sharing evidence, putting PA in contact with relevant policy networks, or scientists and providing organisational tips on workshops and dialogue with stakeholders
Do not have everything fixed in advance Be flexible to keep the interest of all partners alive (carrying out regular surveys amongst partners to monitor results)
Enthusiasm is not enough: consider planning in extra human and financial resources Consider planning for extra internal or external human resources to help: e.g. hiring service providers for coordinating work between partners, for undertaking the background research or drafting the final outputs.
A one track strategy is not enough: team leaders might go away, national priorities might change Find allies! Team leaders might go away, national priorities might change. Develop a multilayer strategy to embed your project in a web of alliances (raising the interest of policy makers through networks, embedding your PA in Interreg programmes, building bridges with other PA or ongoing initiatives in a similar area, etc.).
Do not weigh too much on others Consultation of stakeholders should be used with care. Stakeholders are surrounded by competing demands and they can become weary. The same goes for partners.
PA cannot be compared to one another other Taking stock of how each one of them is important : ex post assessments to understand how things were done for each PA; check against lessons learnt from policy labs; analogies with the Urban agenda partnership; quick surveys inside a PA can be useful to ensure all in going well in a partnership.
How to end a pilot? What type of closing event: a small gathering limited to the partners, a presentation in a large event with policy makers, or inserted in a large thematic conference, group several PA together to show their links, a mix of the 4?

ESPON and its network can have an important role in communicating and disseminating the PA results.

Would innovative outputs be conceivable? Most outputs take the form of reports, a toolbox, guidelines… Could we imagine other formats?

E.g. make a better use of the material produced during the exchanges; the involvement of a broader community in the exchanges of the partnership can contribute to enriching them; using more the TA 2030 web site, other platforms/tools could perhaps be considered?

Replication and dissemination to inspire new developments? PA results can be replicated in other networks via the dissemination of lessons learnt, methodologies and good practices or inspire new developments

Find the document in a Word format and in a PDF format.

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