The Border-Crosser has been visiting the INTERREG IV C Forum in Lille (www.interreg4c.eu), and what a scary experience it has been. If anyone tries to tell you that co-operation is not very popular, then you should send them to one of these events. 1200 people networking like fury, with lots of techy briefings on application forms and programme manuals thrown in for good measure (the Border-Crosser gave these a miss, it must be admitted).
Some interesting political elements were tossed into the mix as well, with the key message that, to be and to remain relevant, interregional co-operation needs to link itself much more closely to national and regional programmes. This may seem self-evident - after all, what's the point of exchanging experience and best practice, if the new information gleaned is not put to good use? - but because co-operation has for too long been seen as a parallel and distinct element of Cohesion Policy, this link has not been made successfully, and many good lessons learned have never been fully implemented in the regions concerned.
It seems that this message is finally getting through, which is important for lots of reasons: not least in making a case for getting a much bigger allocation for interregional co-operation than the pitifully small amount of funds allocated this time round. € 300 million for a programme covering the whole EU (which could have been used three times over in the first call alone!) is pretty poor.
The fight for more recognition for interregional co-operation goes on, but things are looking brighter.
And if you don't understand the title, Google it!