Harghita County Council maintains twinning relations with 13 regions from Hungary, 2 from Italy, 1 from Poland, 1 from the People’s Republic of China, 1 region from The Republic of Armenia, and 1 region from the Republic of Moldova. Besides our twinning relations our international relations are strengthened by memberships in international organizations, partnerships in project implementation, friendships, and last but not least promotion and partnerships with the institutions of the European Union.
Our international activities contribute to initiating and maintaining cooperative relations with foreign administrative institutions, participation in conferences, seminars, workshops, and professional meetings organized in the county and abroad to exchange information and expand partnerships, and maintaining economic, cultural, and other relations through exchange of experience and common interests and projects.
Our international relations provides:
Promotion of local tourism and local products, thereby contributing to the attractions of foreign tourists and increasing the income of our local producers;
Exchange of experience in attracting investors, and formation of economic partnerships to the common development of the regions;
Implementation of several EU-funded projects, as well as projects financed by the Bethlen Gábor Fund, which besides the exchange of experience and good practices contributes to the formation of future partnerships and twinning cooperations;
Representing the local challenges and proposals of Harghita County in the EU and international decision-makers in order to promote local development initiatives.
The international activities of Harghita County Council are managed by the International Relations Department within the Management and International Relations Directorate.
The activities of the department include continuous collaboration with organizations at the European level, the institutions of the European Union, and the twinning communities, in order to initiate and implement common programs and projects. At the same time, together with the EU Project Monitoring and Development Department, they are also responsible for participating in various projects and maintaining the relationship with local territorial administrative units in the county, specialized institutions, and subordinate institutions for providing advice on international issues.
Over the years, we have been organizers and participants in many international activities with our twin counties, foreign partners, and institutions of the European Union, as follows:
Within the framework of our twinning relations:
Organizing free health screening programs in different localities of Harghita County: yearly by doctors from Bács-Kiskun County, multiannual by doctors from Jász-Nagykun-Szolnok County.
From 2017, within the projects financed by the Bethlen Gábor Fund, we have implemented various projects in the fields of vocational education, religious tourism, monument protection, development of local values deposit, economic development, project management, and the formation of new twinning relationships.
Together with our twin counties, we have implemented several EU-funded projects:
We implemented the Inextex project with the General Assembly of Somogy County from Hungary in the period 2007-2009, the aim of which was the innovative exchange of knowledge, experience, and methods based on textile heritage.
We organized the FolkDanceNet program (2008, 2009) with General Assembly of Jász-Nagykun-Szolnok County from Hungary, which was established in 2008 during the European Year of Intercultural Dialogue. The FolkDanceNet program was set up to create a framework for cooperation between folk dance associations, local authorities, and civil society actors working to protect cultural heritage, and traditions from the 15 participating countries. (folkdancenet.eu)
In 2019, through our twinning relationship with Tolna County, we joined the European Union-supported FRiDGE Interreg Europe project, led by the Tolna County Development Agency. The aim of the project consists in the development of food industry SME competitiveness for better potential in growth (https://www.interregeurope.eu/fridge/)
Partnership with European Union`s Institutions:
The Eurodyssée program, part of the Assembly of European Regions provides young people between the ages of 18 and 30 with the opportunity to exchange professional experience in European partner regions for 3 to 7 months, which also contributes to improving foreign language skills. Thanks to the Eurodyssée program, Harghita County Council is in cooperation with 33 partner regions from 12 European countries for youth support in exchange for experiences and professional development and receive foreign trainees.
Through the program in 2008, 3 young people from Harghita County completed internships in public administration and tourism in Spain, Germany, and Portugal. At the same time, we received 1 young person from Spain at the end of 2008/ first of half 2009, who did an internship in the field of education at the Soros Education Center in Miercurea-Ciuc and taught Spanish to the employees of the Harghita County Council.
Since 2012, we have also been active in representing Harghita County in the institutions of the European Union as well as on platforms for local territorial administrative units. We also represent local interests by organizing events in Brussels and Harghita County. Every year we participate in the Open Days organized by the European Parliament, where we can present the different values of our country depending on the theme of the event. Besides participating in the Open Days, we have the opportunity to participate in the series of events of the European Week of Regions and Cities. Along with several topics, we also ensured the representation of the interests of local producers and local products. In the long term, our activity on this topic contributes to attracting funds through international partnerships, tourism development, and increasing producers` incomes.
Since 2019 Harghita County Council has been a member of the Subsidiarity Monitoring Network of the Committee of the Regions (RegHubs- https://cor.europa.eu/en/our-work/Pages/network-of-regional-hubs.asp ), which ensures an opportunity to provide concrete suggestions and feedback on the implementation of EU regulations and programs at the local level. This is an excellent opportunity to influence the new directives and regulations for the period after 2020 and to send information about the experience of Harghita County, as well as local challenges and problems, to the decision-makers of the EU institutions.
Harghita County Council has been a member of the Assembly of European Regions (AER) since 1993 and in 2019 we also started to join the European Alliance for Local Democracy (ALDA).
Cooperation with embassies and consulates: in the last years several ambassadors of different countries have visited our County, with whom we have consulted on various topics such as vocational education, economic development, promotion of local products, and so on.
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