On 9 September 1988 four leading European regions in four of the major states of the European Union signed a cooperation agreement which remains in force today. They are Baden-Württemberg in Germany, Lombardy in Italy, Rhône-Alpes in France and Catalonia. Since then they have worked together with the twin objectives of contributing to the integration of all four territories and promoting the role of the regions in the European Union. The main areas of cooperation are the economy, research, culture and the environment.
Over time the Four Motors for Europe have added three associate regions to their teamwork: Flanders in Belgium, Wales in the United Kingdom and Malopolska in Poland. In addition, since 2014 Quebec has also taken part as a collaborating member.
This interregional cooperation network is organised through a rotating presidency that changes approximately every year. It is arranged at a Meeting of Presidents which convenes to approve an annual work plan that is implemented through a number of working groups. On 23 January 2015 Catalonia took over the Presidency and is promoting a Work Plan focused on a commitment to innovation and new information and communications technology (ICT) as a primary strategy for the global reindustrialisation and specialisation of all four regions.
This has involved changing the course of the work of the Culture Group, which had traditionally been geared towards exchanges of artists and cultural proposals. While some exchanges continue as the driving force for new generations of jazz musicians through the 4 Motors for Europe, 4 Motors for Jazz project, the Culture Working Group has focused on reciprocal promotion of cultural and creative industries. Led by the Catalan Institute of Cultural Companies (ICEC), the Group was relaunched in June 2015 at a meeting held in Barcelona as part of the Sonar Pro Festival. Entitled 4 Motors Summit of Digital & Creative Industries, the meeting featured exchanges of information about policies to support cultural and creative industries in each of the Four Motors. It also discussed proposals to organise an extended meeting in June 2016 with the participation of artists and cultural businesses from subsectors such as the audiovisual, musical and digital industries.