Skip to main content


A Croatian Delegation on a Study Visit to Charleroi and Brussels

Article written by Jerome Friedrichs - Policy Officer

End of January, EURADA had the pleasure of hosting a delegation of the Croatian Ministry of Regional Development and EU Funds (MRDEUF) and no less than 11 regional development agencies who undertook a study visit to Charleroi (Wallonia) and Brussels.

The study visit took place in the framework of a collaboration project between the MRDEUF and the OECD to strengthen the capacity of regional and local actors to design and implement evidence-based development strategies. It was the second of its kind after having been welcomed by EURADA member TRADE in Andalucía in December last year.

The first day of the study visit, jointly organised by our member IGRETEC and the EURADA Secretariat, gave the delegation a holistic picture of the efforts of the metropolitan area of Charleroi to revitalise and accelerate the regional economy, an archetypical example of a former coal region that saw its industrial bedrock disappearing bit by bit in recent decades.

Key actors in these efforts are IGRETEC, the regional/inter-municipal development agency of the Charleroi and South Hainaut region, and Charleroi Entreprendre, the start-up accelerator of Charleroi Métropole. After their introduction, the following presentations of the morning shed light on the major urban regeneration projects in Charleroi under the auspices of Charleroi Bouwmeester, an independent body that advises the municipal council on urban development, and the Belgian federal and regional recovery plan implemented under the European Union’s Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF), better known as NextGen EU. The latter allowed for a particularly vivid discussion on the differences – but also similarities – between the federal approach of Belgium and the more centralised strategy in Croatia regarding RRF funding.

While the morning focussed on the presentation of key actors and macro-strategies, the afternoon was an opportunity to discover concrete action plans and their implementation in the form of projects. And this in both a theoretical and physical sense, as the delegation visited A6K, an innovative net-zero manufacturing cluster in the heart of Charleroi, which is itself a key result of the “Catch Turbo” masterplan for Charleroi Métropole. The first day ended with a preview of the “Porte Ouest” urban regeneration plan, which aims to revitalise 100 hectares of industrial wasteland near the city centre.

The second day of the study visit took place in Brussels, where the delegation was introduced to EURADA, its activities and services for its members, as well as AWEX, the Wallonia Foreign Trade and Investment Agency.

Despite the difficulties caused by massive protests by Belgian farmers during the two days, the study visit was a complete success and provided ample opportunity for mutual learning and exchange.