Public Services

Elements involved in the implementation of cross-border cooperation in the area of public services

Identification of competent authorities

As in any cooperation, the creation of shared facilities or pooling of a service requires that the competent public players are first properly identified. In practice, it is important to check in domestic law and in the provisions of the statutes that govern the respective partner authorities whether they do indeed have the competence to cooperate in a specific area.
A competence that may be exercised by an EPCI on the French side may be exercised by a region on the other side of the border (for example in the area of the organisation of public transport by road). It is important to identify the legal basis is and the way in which this competence is exercised (statutory competence, “general competence clause”, exclusive or shared competence).
Once these public actors have been identified, it is also interesting to compare their respective modes of intervention and financing in the area of activity concerned (for example transport, water treatment, culture, economic development, etc.). This analysis (of competences, and of the modes of intervention and financing of the partners in the project) makes it possible to prepare the choice of a cross-border operational structure that is compatible with the legal and operational frameworks on either side of the border.

The use of appropriate legal tools

Each cross-border project has its own legal and operational framework based on the nature of the partners concerned, the sector concerned (for example the environment, transport, culture, etc.) and the type of action envisaged (creation of a network, common investment, etc.).
In order to cooperate across national borders, local authorities and their groupings can draw on different national, European and international legal frameworks which set out a whole range of tools for cooperation, thus constituting a veritable “cross-border toolbox” (see the topic legal tools).

The search for cofinancing for cross-border services

The issue of the financing of cross-border projects is at the heart of the concerns of the partners involved in cross-border initiatives. The financing of actions that are the subject of cross-border cooperation relies in principle on the budgets of the different local authorities that undertake these actions.
However, the main difficulty lies in the fact that having the legal capacity to undertake a cross-border action or to make a cross-border investment does not give local authorities the financial capacity to carry out this action or make this investment.
By dint of their inter-regional or international scope and the financial investment they require, many investment projects and projects aimed at putting in place cross-border networks or services cannot be funded by the local authorities in the border area alone.
It is therefore important that in their cross-border initiatives these local authorities think in terms of “co-financing” by organising "roundtables", i.e. by mobilising all of the levels concerned to secure financing for the project. Applying for European funds can also be envisaged to help with the financing of cross-border projects