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Cross-border cooperation within the framework of the TACIS programme
The purpose of the Communication is to enhance cross-border cooperation to contribute to the stability of the European Union's new neighbours. Sustainable projects that help solve specific problems in the border areas will be undertaken. Priority is given to institution building to enable local and regional authorities, the key players in this programme, to participate in the operations.
Commission Communication on cross-border cooperation within the framework of the TACIS programme [COM(1997) 239 final - Not published in the Official Journal].
1. The enlarged European Union (EU)'s new borders with New Independent States (NIS) and the countries of Central and Eastern Europe (CCEEs) increase the need for stability in these areas. The European Commission therefore proposes cross-border cooperation operations under the Tacis programme to pave the way for sustainable socio-economic development.
2. This cooperation can also contribute to the pre-accession process for the CCEEs through additional financing of border-crossing management and infrastructure.
Objectives and instruments
3. The programme aims to support sustainable projects (transfer of know-how, development of cross-border contacts, financing of small infrastructures and joint enterprises) with a cross-border impact. Priority is given to projects in which local or regional involvement and systemic impact can be demonstrated.
4. The objectives are to contribute to:
- improving the efficiency of border crossing and controls. The means for this are improving border-crossing procedures, setting up suitable infrastructure and improving border security through joint management programmes. The priorities are:
- facilitating local movement across borders;
- border crossing points between the EU, the CCEEs and the NIS;
- helping border regions overcome specific development problems arising from their peripheral location. This is to be done by establishing links between border networks, cooperation and creating inter-community enterprises;
- addressing cross-border environmental issues with studies and projects.
5. One prior condition of any operation is local and regional capacity.
6. The priority is institution building to enable local and regional authorities to participate in the operations. This support will be accompanied by development of cross-border networks and border management. Priority is also given to projects that create direct links between border communities.
7. Local cooperative operations on a smaller scale with an appropriate amount of funding are also a priority. They will be financed under the Tacis mechanism for small projects.
8. The programme's principle focus is on the borders between the NIS and the EU and between the NIS and the Baltic States. It also covers the borders separating Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and Moldavia from the CCEEs.
9. The procedures provide for intensive participation by local and regional authorities and a degree of flexibility. The selection criteria are based on cross-border impact, synergy with other Community programmes like Interreg and Phare, and absorption capacity.
10. Tacis cross-border cooperation must aim to harmonise its approach with that of Phare and Interreg and to simplify and clarify the Community financing system as much as possible. It must be based as far as possible on existing regional structures.
Role of local and regional authorities
11. Operations must be identified and prepared by the local and regional authorities as much as is possible. The national authorities have a role in approving the final programme and in projects of national interest such as border crossing points.
12. Information meetings are planned for the initial stages.
13. Since the 1980s the EU has supported cross-border cooperation through the Structural Funds under the Interreg initiative and a similar Phare programme. In December 1994 the Essen European Council decided to draw up a regional and good neighbourhood plan to encourage multi-annual and multilateral cooperation in land and sea border regions between the EU and the CCEEs, CCEEs and CCEEs and CCEEs and the NIS. The areas covered were transport, public services, the environment, economic development, human resources and agriculture.
14. In 1995 the Pact on Stability in Europe was a further effort to bring an end to the threat of tension and crises and create an area of good neighbourliness and cooperation in Europe.