European territorial cooperation

23-03-2018

Established in 1990, the first European territorial cooperation initiative, Interreg I, focused on cross-border cooperation. Action in this area has expanded over the years to cover broader initiatives such as trans-national cooperation, involving countries from wider geographical areas, and inter-regional cooperation, which brings together regions from across the whole EU. These three strands together make up European territorial cooperation, which is one of the two main goals of cohesion policy today. With the removal of Europe's frontier posts, travelling across borders has become second nature for millions of European citizens. European territorial cooperation has brought Europeans closer together, strengthened connectivity and improved the natural environment, supported by EU mechanisms such as the European groupings of territorial cooperation, and macro-regional strategies. Yet despite these achievements, numerous obstacles to closer cooperation still remain, such as divergent national rules in the areas of employment, healthcare and social security. Recent years have witnessed increased calls to address these hurdles, with the 2015 Luxembourg EU Presidency putting forward a proposal for a new instrument for cross-border projects, and the European Commission organising a cross-border review to identify remaining bottlenecks in the area, leading to a 2017 communication on boosting growth and cohesion in EU border regions. The European Parliament has also adopted a resolution on European territorial cooperation as part of this process. With discussions under way on the future of cohesion policy, there is general agreement on the importance of strengthening Interreg beyond 2020. Yet despite the many achievements of this policy over the years, continued EU support for European territorial cooperation is arguably critical, with the partial reintroduction of border controls in recent years revealing just how fragile territorial cooperation can be. This is an updated edition of a briefing from September 2016: PE 586.666.

Established in 1990, the first European territorial cooperation initiative, Interreg I, focused on cross-border cooperation. Action in this area has expanded over the years to cover broader initiatives such as trans-national cooperation, involving countries from wider geographical areas, and inter-regional cooperation, which brings together regions from across the whole EU. These three strands together make up European territorial cooperation, which is one of the two main goals of cohesion policy today. With the removal of Europe's frontier posts, travelling across borders has become second nature for millions of European citizens. European territorial cooperation has brought Europeans closer together, strengthened connectivity and improved the natural environment, supported by EU mechanisms such as the European groupings of territorial cooperation, and macro-regional strategies. Yet despite these achievements, numerous obstacles to closer cooperation still remain, such as divergent national rules in the areas of employment, healthcare and social security. Recent years have witnessed increased calls to address these hurdles, with the 2015 Luxembourg EU Presidency putting forward a proposal for a new instrument for cross-border projects, and the European Commission organising a cross-border review to identify remaining bottlenecks in the area, leading to a 2017 communication on boosting growth and cohesion in EU border regions. The European Parliament has also adopted a resolution on European territorial cooperation as part of this process. With discussions under way on the future of cohesion policy, there is general agreement on the importance of strengthening Interreg beyond 2020. Yet despite the many achievements of this policy over the years, continued EU support for European territorial cooperation is arguably critical, with the partial reintroduction of border controls in recent years revealing just how fragile territorial cooperation can be. This is an updated edition of a briefing from September 2016: PE 586.666.