Everyday tales and stories from the border regions of Europe and beyond, with the aim of explaining why we border-crossers are as obsessed as we are about this subject, why it is important to all of us, and why the co-operation community needs a little bit more visibility than it normally gets.

Thursday, 1 September 2011

How lies the land?

As the Border-Crosser wakes from a very extended period of hibernation, he looks around and asks himself "how lies the land?" Where does co-operation sit in autumn 2011? What has happened since the last time the Border-Crosser put fingers to keyboard?

Well, the big news to start with is that the Commission's financial proposals for the 2014-2020 are out (click here). They were issued in June, and will be followed by all the draft sectoral regulations before the end of 2011. Then the fun starts, as the whole process gets pulled apart in the Council and the Parliament until some time in 2013 (springtime, if you want the Border-Crosser's best guess).

So how did co-operation do from a funding point of view? All told, pretty well it must be said. A proposed allocation of EUR 11.7 billion, equivalent to an almost 40% increase on the current figure (when you put them into comparable prices.) Certainly not as much as some in the co-operation world were hoping for, but in the overall economic context, and in the general EU budget squeeze, not to be sniffed at.

Certainly, it's not as much as the Commission proposed last time, but we know what happened when that proposal reached the Council (slashed, for those that don't know.) This time round, the proposal looks a more realistic starting point. In addition, the much stronger role of the Parliament is likely to help, as there are a lot of friends of co-operation in the Parliament, especially on the REGI Committee. That should mitigate Council (and some Commission) tendencies to cut away at the co-operation budget when savings are required. Finally, the development of the macro-regional strategy approach provides a stronger justification than has existed before for increasing the transnational co-operation funding in particular.

So, grounds for optimism.  However, there needs to be proof that co-operation is delivering now, otherwise there will undoubtedly be pressure to squeeze the budget during the negotiation phase.  Therefore, over the coming weeks, the Border-Crosser will be looking at what has been happening in the ETC programmes over the last year or so to assess progress.  Feel free to chip in and comment on what you have seen as well.

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