September seems likely to be a busy month in the world of cross-border co-operation. I hear the Commission is very close to approving the first of the new programmes for 2007-2013. Who will be first, I wonder? Ireland-Wales is very well placed according to my sources, as is Spain-Portugal. Whoever it is will be a new champion, as the Finnish-Swedish programmes that were adopted 3 months before anyone else in 2001 are not quite in the first wave this time.
One point that I have heard several times recently is the importance of getting the programmes up and running quickly. There is momentum to build and and eager project partners waiting for contracts to get started. So maybe the prize should really be for the programme which can get projects selected first? In this case, keep a watch on the Ireland-Northern Ireland-Western Scotland (www.seupb.ie) programme. They appear to have done an awful lot of pre-development work and could well have projects in place later this year.