European Territorial Cooperation
The European Union’s Cohesion Policy encourages regions and cities from different EU Member States to work together and learn from each other through joint Programmes, projects and networks. In the period 2007-2013 the European Territorial Cooperation objective (formerly the INTERREG Community Initiative) is financed by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and supports cross-border, transnational and interregional cooperation Programmes. More specifically, it co-finances:
52 cross-border cooperation Programmes along internal EU borders. The total ERDF contribution amounts to €5.6 billion.
13 transnational cooperation Programmes cover larger areas of co-operation such as the Baltic Sea, South East Europe, Alpine and Mediterranean regions. The total ERDF contribution amounts to €1.8 billion.
The interregional cooperation Programme (INTERREG IVC) and 3 networking Programmes (Urbact II, Interact II and ESPON) cover all 27 Member States of the EU. They provide a framework for exchanging experience between regional and local bodies in different countries. The total ERDF contribution amounts to €445 million.
The budget of €8.7 billion for the European Territorial Cooperation objective accounts for 2.5% of the total 2007-13 allocation for cohesion policy, including the allocation for Member States to participate in EU external border cooperation Programmes supported by other instruments (IPA and ENPI).
The European Territorial Cooperation Programme “Greece-Bulgaria 2007-1013” is a cross-border cooperation Programme. Cross-border cooperation is essentially about "filling the gaps". It does so through agreed cross-border “analysis and response” strategies, specifically formulated and tailored for each border region. It deals with a wide range of issues, which include:
- Encouraging entrepreneurship, especially the development of SMEs, tourism, culture and cross-border trade;
- Improving joint management of natural resources;
- Supporting links between urban and rural areas;
- Improving access to transport and communication networks;
- Developing joint use of infrastructure;
- Administrative, employment and equal opportunities work.
Whether the challenge relates to infrastructure (building bridges), to markets and services (linking universities to business to clients) or to cultural or linguistic barriers, cross-border co-operation is intended to address them.