On the occasion of the European Cooperation Day and a week after the celebration of the 25th anniversary of Interreg, the umbrella framework for Regional Policy's cross border cooperation programmes, the Commission is launching an EU-wide public consultation on the remaining obstacles to cross border cooperation.
Numerous legal and administrative borders still exist and add a burden on cross border activities. As a result, a significant economic potential remains untapped in our border regions. With this public consultation, the Commission will be able to take stock of the opinion of 185 million EU citizens living in border regions in regards to the obstacles they are facing in their everyday life and their suggestions on how to overcome them.
Speaking from Vienna where she launched the consultation, Commissioner for Regional Policy Corina Creţu said: "More than €10 billion from Cohesion Policy funds will be invested in our regions over 2014-2020 to foster cross border cooperation. But funding is not enough and I believe we can do more. In the course of this mandate the Commission intends to make concrete proposals to solve remaining cross border issues and for this, we need the valuable input of the citizens who are facing these obstacles on a daily basis. I count on many of you not only to take part in the consultation but also to spread the word and encourage citizens, organisations and businesses to respond."
To support her initiative, Commissioner Creţu asked the senior managers of her services in the Directorate-General for Regional and Urban Policy to contribute to this information gathering and to promote, on the ground, the benefits of our Interreg programmes. Between now and mid-October Commission officials will visit eleven border areas across Europe, in order to meet citizens and their representatives and to study best practices.
The online public consultation will run for three months, until 21 December 2015, and covers the EU's internal border regions including the borders with Norway and Switzerland. The initial conclusions will be published in early 2016.
This consultation is part of a wider Cross Border Review, which also consists of:
- A scientific study on “Easing legal and administrative obstacles in EU border regions”. The study was launched in July 2015 and will deliver its final results in the beginning of 2017. It will present a full inventory of border obstacles in the EU, possible solutions to overcome them, case studies for selected policy areas and recommendations for future work.
- A series of stakeholder workshops, involving border region associations, academia, entrepreneurs and others. The first workshop took place in early September 2015.