EU’s external action: ‘cross-border cooperation’ component to undergo major changes
June 7, 2018
Substantial changes regarding the future of Cross-Border Cooperation (CBC) programmes currently implemented under the European Neighbourhood Instrument (ENI), will be introduced for the period 2021-2027.
On 29 May 2018, the European Commission presented its proposal for the future of Cohesion Policy beyond 2020. The Cohesion Policy is the main EU’s investment policy for regional development and includes, among other instruments, the European territorial cooperation goal, better known as Interreg: this latest provides a framework for the implementation of joint actions and policy exchanges between national, regional and local actors from different EU Member States.
Here are some of the changes envisaged for the period 2021-2027 and included into the draft Interreg Regulation issued on 29 May:
– Approximation with Interreg rules : “In a major effort to simplify and maximise synergy”, the draft Interreg Regulation proposes to apply most of the rules of internal territorial cooperation between Member States to cooperation with non-EU countries. As a consequence, programmes belonging to the EU’s future external financing instruments, such as the Neighbourhood, Development and International Cooperation Instrument (NDICI), will be implemented mostly under the rules established by the Interreg Regulation.
– New programmes : the current ENI CBC programmes will be divided into different types of programmes:
• external “Interreg Neighbourhood CBC programmes”, limited to EU Member States and partner countries sharing land borders;
• maritime cooperation programmes (such as the current ENI CBC Med Programme for instance) covering territories around sea-basins.
The list of Interreg programmes to receive financial support will be contained in an implementing act to be adopted by the European Commission.
– Thematic framework: some of the policy objectives of the Cohesion Policy and Interreg-specific objectives should also be relevant for external cooperation programmes.
Given the scale of the reform proposed by the European Commission, it is important to build on the achievements of the past 2007-2013 period and the current 2014-2020 phase to ensure a smooth transition towards the future 2021-2027 Interreg programmes involving Mediterranean Partner Countries. Therefore, efforts should be put in a dialogue with Partner Countries to jointly develop priorities and programmes that focus on mutual interests in the Mediterranean area.
The draft “Neighbourhood, Development and International Cooperation Instrument (NDICI)” Regulation, to be presented on 14 June, should contain further information on the articulation between European territorial cooperation and EU external funding instruments.