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Frontpage News 2009 Spurring regional development through funds and programmes

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Spurring regional development through funds and programmes

Through nine cross-border and regional funds and programmes, nearly €22 million are put to use to increase cooperation and development across European borders and regions.

This summer, several of the funds are in the process of completing open calls, and some have already allocated money to sub-projects. In June, the Latvian regional and cross-border programme, with the aim of promoting sustainable social and economic development in the country`s border regions, signed agreements with eight sub-projects that have been selected to receive funding.

Among the supported projects is a collaborative effort between Latvian and Lithuanian actors to improve the surface water quality in the Lielupe River basin, affecting both countries. The fund furthermore supports a series of projects in Latvia`s border regions to foster sustainable development, all of which are carried out in cooperation with Belarusian, Estonian, Lithuanian or Russian partners.

More than half of the support from Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway in the regional and cross-border field goes to funds and programmes. As the implementation of the grants schemes progresses, more and more projects under the funds are taking shape in the beneficiary states. The nine funds in place in Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Slovakia have all completed at least one open call for applications, which is the first step towards seeing action on the ground.

Focus on sustainable development

The nine funds all have specific focus areas that they support under the heading of regional policy and cross-border activities. Sustainable economical, environmental and social development is an aim of several of the funds. To achieve this, capacity building in the public sector, transfer of knowledge and focus on good governance is an important aspect of the activities of the funds.

Both funds in Lithuania, with a total of €7 million at disposal, aim to strengthen the capacities of local and regional authorities in order to foster development in the country`s regions. In addition, one of the funds is specifically geared towards bringing about increased cooperation between Lithuanian local and regional partners with Norwegian counterparts. Such bilateral cooperation is an integrated part of the development agenda of funds in the sector, and partnerships under these funds include entities not only from the donor states, but also beneficiary states and third countries. Read more about partnerships here.

Wide range of actors involved

Projects under the funds and programmes bring together actors from all sides of society, from NGOs and businesses to local, regional and national authorities. 118 projects involving such entities have been approved so far, a number that is set to increase markedly as more funds and programmes progress in allocating the available financial support.