Centre for Business Initiatives Beira Aguieira – IEBA
Project team: How do you personally understand the term ‘Europeanisation’ and how do you envisage it being implemented in your organisation?
Carla Duarte: We believe that ‘Europeanisation’ is the process of participating in the EU by planning and implementing European partnership projects, joining European associations and networking with organisations and professionals in different European countries. For IEBA, this involves creating opportunities for Portuguese citizens and organisations (companies, associations, municipalities, etc.) so that they can participate in European activities, initiatives and projects, specifically those involving European mobilities and exchanges that are organised in other European countries.
Project team: What kind of European work is IEBA engaged in?
Carla Duarte: IEBA is currently involved in 3 European projects that are funded by Erasmus+ within the Directorate General policies and programmes for ‘Education, Training, Youth and Sports’. During the last 20 years, IEBA has participated in 85 social innovation and development projects, 51 of which were undertaken nationally and 34 throughout Europe. The European framework programmes were ‘Employment & ADAPT’, ‘EQUAL’, ‘Leonardo da Vinci’ (pilot projects, reference materials and mobilities), ‘Grundtvig’ (preparatory visits, learning partnerships and multilateral projects), ‘Life Long Learning’, ‘Interreg III B Sudoe’, ‘eLearning Initiative’, ‘IEE Intelligent Energy Europe EFS Social Dialogue’, ‘Europe for Citizens’, ‘European Rights and Citizenship’, ‘Youth’, ‘Sports’, ‘Progress’ and ‘Erasmus+’.
Project team: Does your organisation have an Europeanisation or internationalisation strategy?
Carla Duarte: Yes! IEBA has an internal office that is dedicated to promoting projects and other initiatives to fulfil the needs of citizens, communities, organisations and regions in accordance with national and European policies and programmes and in line with local and regional governance strategies.
Project team: What are the biggest challenges that IEBA has faced in its European work?
Carla Duarte: The biggest challenge has been to understand and to be understood and to create consensus between multidisciplinary and culturally diverse work teams.
Project team: In which areas of your organisation has Europeanisation had the biggest impact so far?
Carla Duarte: The biggest impacts of Europeanisation on IEBA have been the newfound ability to locate partner organisations in almost every European country, the creation of an internal team with the competences necessary for work in multicultural European contexts and the capability for planning and implementing European projects in areas that are more rural and less developed than our own.
Project team: Where do you see your Europeanised organisation in the future?
Carla Duarte: IEBA wants to continue developing its ability to work at a European level by engaging in more and different European programmes, creating new partnerships and networks with more professionals and organisations from throughout Europe and involving more internal human resources and more Portuguese citizens and organisations.
Project team: What would be your advice to other organisations so that they can better manage their Europeanisation or internationalisation process?
Carla Duarte: My advice would be to provide ongoing training from the very start to help your staff acquire the competencies necessary for a process of Europeanisation or internationalisation. It is also helpful to regularly participate in networking groups that you can trust, since they are a great way to develop connections with organisations from various European countries. I also recommend getting involved with a European Association and getting in touch with your national agency for European projects, as well as with national information points and European offices. A good starting point is to establish links with the representation offices in Brussels for your country or region.