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The Interregional Cooperation Programme INTERREG IVC, financed by the European Union’s Regional Development Fund, helps Regions of Europe work together to share experience and good practice in the areas of innovation, the knowledge economy, the environment and risk prevention. EUR 302 million is available for project funding but, more than that, a wealth of knowledge and potential solutions are also on hand for regional policy-makers.



Alcobaça is a middle sized town located in the West Region of Portugal, 100 km north of Lisbon. Its foundation dates back to the moors. Then in the 12th century the first king of Portugal donated lands to the Cistercian Order, to build a Monastery here and start farming the lands. The Saint Mary Monastery is classified today by the UNESCO as a World Heritage site and is also one of the New Seven Portuguese Wonders.


Nowadays, Alcobaça is the second most important Municipality in the region. Its population mainly works in the industrial sector, especially in ceramics, while the service sector and agriculture and farming also have significance.


Alcobaça has a long tradition in the ceramic crafts that began already with the “barristas” monks in the 17th - 18th century. At the end of the 19th century the first ceramics factories were opened, some of which still operate nowadays. The 1980s brought along a boom of ceramic industries and enterprises. The production mainly focused of utilitarian and decorative pieces and Alcobaça ceramics has reached a worldwide projection, major clients of its products coming both from Europe and the USA.


However, the context has changed recently. The ceramic crafts and industries of the region have been facing a serious decrease in orders, due to strong competition and lower prices of the Asian markets and to 11/09. As a result, some factories have closed, leaving hundreds of workers unemployed. 


Therefore the Municipality of Alcobaça’s key aim today is to stimulate the ceramic sector, as it has realized that public policies are needed to solve the problems the sector is facing.



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