A number of the new co-operation programmes have evidently been worried about receiving very high numbers of project applications, causing much work for programme staff, and much disappointment for applicants, with all programmes having limited budgets. This has resulted in some programmes adopting a two stage process, with expressions of interest as a first step, and then full applications being invited from a limited number of projects only.
This is a good strategy on paper, but it does run a major risk - as expressions of interest (EoIs) are easier to write, there could be a lot more of them, as applicants think that there is nothing to lose at that stage. And so it seems to have proved.
First up was the new Mediterranean programme, which received a massive 531 EoIs in response to its first call. A month or so later, this was smashed by the South-East Europe programme, which set a new record of a frankly quite terrifying 821 EoIs. The Border Crosser is very glad not to be working in the programme secretariat.
All of this is, of course, good news. There is clearly enormous interest in co-operation across most of Europe. The South-East figures were especially good if you consider 1 in 4 of the 5,400 partners in the submissions came from outside the Union, and 1 in 3 of those came from Serbia. They really are so co-operative down there.
Of course, the real test will be on project quality and how relevant the content actually proves to be. But that is for later on. Now, anyone going to beat 821?