Cross-border Cooperation (CBC) programmes are drivers of local economic, social, environmental and cultural development. The programmes operate between Western Balkans beneficiaries of Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance (IPA) funding and are prime examples of good neighbourly cooperation at the level of local stakeholders in remote, small and usually underdeveloped communities near borders.
Across the Western Balkans, remote communities along borders face many challenges, from stagnant economic growth and high levels of unemployment, to social exclusion of minorities, women or elderly people, and environmental threats or degradation.
Rural areas have high potential for development and the EU seeks to finance this in order to unleash the potential for economic and job creation activities.
In cooperation with national authorities and EU Delegations, within any given cross-border area EU investment includes local authorities, local civil society organisations, and educational institutions. Projects cover areas such asprotection of the environment, tourism, cultural heritage, education, health, social inclusion, entrepreneurship, research, and people-to-people cooperation. There are nine CBC programmes between IPA beneficiaries financed initially by IPA II for the period of 2014-2020, which are still underway.
In view of the challenges, continued support to cross-border cooperation is a priority for the EU. CBC programmes support the cross-border areas across the region in a number of ways.
Support centres on:
Employment, labour mobility and social and cultural inclusion across the border – This helps with better access for job seekers to the labour market in cross-border areas and particularly contributes to increasing employment opportunities and social inclusion for vulnerable groups.
Protecting and promoting the environment – The region is extremely rich in environmental resources and biodiversity. Protecting and valorising these assets is one of the key points for sustainable development and offers many possibilities for cross-border cooperation.
Encouraging tourism and cultural and natural heritage – Whilst tourism has made an important contribution to the growth of the area, the vast size of the regional tourism market indicates a largely unexploited potential. The CBC programmes support the region in further increasing this potential through diversification of the tourism offer by building on natural and cultural heritage.
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