Financing of the Cross-border Cooperation – Instruments and Opportunities

Close cooperation and good neighbourly relations are in the interest of the countries of Central and Eastern Europe. Joint and coordinated actions are especially important for the border regions. Joint cross-border projects, made together with foreign partners can contribute to mutual economic development and sustainable cooperation. What tools do local governments and organisations have to work on the joint projects with foreign partners? How to use the available funding resources effectively?

During the 5th Congress of Local Governments in Krakow, participants will discuss how to improve the effectiveness of cross-border cooperation and which instruments can be used for its financing. The panel discussion will be moderated by Luiza Hoxhaj, Executive Director of the Centre for European Policy Studies Local and Regional Development of Albania. Among the participants will be Adam Hamryszczak, Undersecretary of State at the Ministry of Investment and Economic Development of Poland; Chairman of Lviv Regional Council Oleksandr Hanushchyn; President of Regional Development Association in BIH Iva Kupresak; Internetional coordinator of Akershus County Council in Norway Rune Bakkevoll; Head of the Office in Brussels of Regional Government of Cantabria Valencia Inmaculada and Director of the Join Technical Secretariat of the Hungary-Slovakia-Romania-Ukraine ENI CBC Programme 2014-2020 Aron Szakacs.

Cross-border cooperation is an important component of regional development. Taking into account the modern dynamics of integrational processes in Central-Eastern Europe, cross-border cooperation has become a major indicator that shows people’s standard of living and improves the free flow of capital, goods and services between regions and states. Besides that, interregional and cross-border initiatives support the mobilization of local resources and improve their effectiveness, allow to joint efforts of states for solving the issues about cross-border territory functions. The intensiveness of this cooperation directly depends on the economic development of the territory, its infrastructural system, competitive advantages and many other factors. The involvement of regions in cross-border projects, exchanges of views and experiences significantly affect the development of these areas, increase their investment attractiveness. The development of the cross-border exchange promotes regional development, cross-border investments and the creation of transport corridors.

Cross-border cooperation programs are the key EU-instrument to support its neighbouring countries. Joint cooperation is also an opportunity to use EU aid measures under various EU initiatives: the European Neighbourhood Instrument (ENI), cross-border co-operation in the EAP countries, the cross-border cooperation programme Poland – Belarus – Ukraine 2014 – 2020 (PL – BY – UA 2014-2020) and others. The European Union allocated EUR 819,830,414.00 to finance the cross-border cooperation programmes for the period 2014-2020. The funds earmarked for this purpose come from the European Regional Development Fund. In addition, each programme is reinforced by national contributions from public budgets and from private entities participating in individual programmes.

Joining these programmes and their effective implementation requires involvement of local stakeholders, and the implementation of interregional projects should be an integral part of the region’s strategic planning. In addition, the regional authorities should also support initiatives for cross-border development and use their opportunities to lobby such projects. Experts and NGOs who have the right experience may help to do that. In is necessary for central authorities to support these initiatives as well. However, to the lack of cross-border cooperation concepts, unspecified funding mechanisms and the need to subsidising initiatives from local budgets can create problems for the implementation of important initiatives. In addition, the central authorities are supporting from the state budgets only the most priority programmes that will help to achieve the greatest outcomes. Therefore, most projects do not get any funding, and their implementation entirely depends on the financial capacity of local authorities.