Brussels, 18 September 2012
European Cooperation Day: Sharing borders, growing closer
Celebrating the achievements of European regions and countries working together across borders. That is what is behind European Co operation Day which for the first time will be marked on the same day across Europe, both in EU member states and neighbouring countries.
Speaking from the European Parliament in Brussels to launch more than 200 events in 40 countries, the EU's Commissioner for Regional Policy Johannes Hahn said: "Territorial cooperation projects help build trust. They foster mutual understanding. They are essential ingredients of European integration. They bring communities together – this is the European Union in action".
European Territorial Cooperation is an increasingly important theme in EU Regional Policy. Regions and cities from different EU Member States are encouraged to work together and learn from each other through joint programmes, projects and networks. Citizens living outside the EU's external borders are also benefiting from a policy whose goal is to help tackle the issues of border regions by promoting better networks and common action.
Among the showcased projects highlighted on European Cooperation Day - officially marked on September 21 - is HEALTH, an Austro-Hungarian-Slovenian initiative that aims to improve energy and resource efficiency in the health sector.
Partners from Czech, Slovak, Hungarian and Austrian regions in the Edtwin project are also creating school-based partnerships and internships in the neighbouring regions, as well as language courses for children in the Central European region.
European Territorial Cooperation covers three types of programmes:
cross-border co-operation programmes along internal EU borders. ERDF contribution: €5.6 billion.
transnational co-operation programmes cover larger areas of co-operation such as the Baltic Sea, Alpine and Mediterranean regions. ERDF contribution: €1.8 billion.
the interregional co-operation 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. ERDF contribution: €445 million.
Since the beginning of the 1990s, around 30,000 cross border projects have received investment from the EU. They have delivered huge benefits to people living in Europe: from creating jobs to protecting the environment to improving health care services, transport and energy.
The results of a study into the INTERREG III initiative (2000-2006) showed projects directly or indirectly creating or safeguarding 115,000 jobs/employment opportunities and nearly 5,800 start-ups and businesses.
The initiative is coordinated by the INTERACT programme in association with the European Commission (DG REGIO, EuropeAid and European External Action Service), and supported by the Committee of the Regions and the European Parliament.
Shirin Wheeler (+32 4607 66565)
Annemarie Huber (+32 2 299 33 10)