Preparation of the European programmes for 2021-2027: What account is being taken of the cross-border territorial approach?

April 2020

Preparation of the European programmes for 2021-2027: What account is being taken of the cross-border territorial approach?

The Covid-19 crisis demands that European and cross-border cooperation be strengthened. The 2021-2027 programmes, the preparation of which is continuing, should be informed by the lessons learned from it. The draft regulations proposed by the Commission, which are in the process of being negotiated with the Parliament and the Council, contain positive innovations for cross-border territories that address their aspirations, as expressed in the Cross-Border Cooperation Strategies along France’s borders. The MOT encourages all of the stakeholders to take them on board.

First of all, the Commission is opening up Interreg; regional and national programmes, as well as other policies (transport, etc.), must take account of cross-border, transnational and interregional issues.

Other points to note:

1. Introduction of a specific "Better Interreg governance” objective

By reserving at least 10% of the budget for support for the structuring of cross-border governance via this objective, programmes will notably be able to fund actions of network building, statistical observation, assistance to players in overcoming obstacles (using the model of the b-solutions initiative), or micro-projects to foster meetings between citizens.

2. A new objective: "A Europe closer to citizens"

The formulation of an objective focused on the “territorialised” approach complements the more sectoral approach that prevailed before. It leads at European level to the drafting of BOPs by the Commission – strategic documents in which the latter puts forward its analysis of the needs on each border, using a functional approach, prior to the drawing-up of future programmes. Cross-border structures (EGTCs and others) can play a crucial role in this, by coordinating future integrated strategies and by acting as the single beneficiary in order to channel larger amounts of funding into a given cross-border territory. The adoption of Cross-Border Cooperation Strategies in France is also contributing to this dynamic, by coordinating players on the French side of the border (including to ensure account is taken of cross-border territories in regional operational programmes and State-region planning contracts (CPER)), and by initiating dialogue with their cross-border neighbours.

3. The ECBM regulation and the possibility for local players to propose solutions to governments to overcome obstacles, as exemplified by the Aachen Treaty on the Franco-German border

To address the low level of interoperability of national legislations, which hampers the development of cross-border projects, the draft ECBM regulation creates a process that enables border region players to propose innovative solutions to governments, via a network of national focal points, which coordinate with one another along each border, and within the framework of a European network steered by the DG REGIO contact point. Interreg programmes will also now be oriented towards overcoming obstacles (see the governance objective). The innovations introduced by the Franco-German Aachen Treaty already anticipate on the Franco-German border the development of such an instrument, by involving governments, territorial executive powers, national parliamentarians and cross-border governance structures in overcoming obstacles in a joint steering committee.

4. The requirement for greater account to be taken of cross-border structures and territories in the design and monitoring of cross-border programmes

The place of cities and cross-border territories in programmes (in their strategy, partnerships and monitoring committees) is a crucial issue.
The Commission recommends involving territorial authorities and cross-border players such as EGTCs in the drawing-up of the 2021-2027 operational programmes. If the OPs are drawn up without involvement from local players, they run the risk of not being adopted.

More info on the new Cohesion Policy 2021-2027

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