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Call for expression of interest for border regions to participate in a pilot to overcome barriers to cross-border business activities

Deadline:  15/03/2021

Call objectives

The call aims to mobilise border regions that have already acknowledged and experienced market access barriers due to regulatory or administrative obstacles.

The call should lead to long-lasting, structured partnerships of volunteer border regions, which eventually should result in the alleviation or abolishment of market access barriers.  

Pilot focus areas

Each group of applicants (the ‘pioneer partnership’) should cover two or three regions that border each other in the EU, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein. They should identify one or more barrier(s) they would like to address together, in maximum three of the areas listed below

  • posting of workers
  • recognition of professional qualifications
  • cross-border provision of (digital) services
  • licensing and other related requirements
  • insurance requirements
  • marketing and advertising restrictions

This list is non-exhaustive and other areas including cross-border trade with goods could be proposed if the identified barrier persists on both sides of the impacted border region and there is a commitment from border regions to find solutions jointly.

Activities of the pilot and involved services

The Commission will invite and give guidance to volunteer border regions to help them think out-of-the box to resolve market barriers. In case of applications aiming to address multiple market barriers, the Commission might make a selection of barriers to offer guidance on.

Solutions to existing barriers might be found within existing legal frameworks, for instance by using digital tools more efficiently, but can also include further legislative actions.

Guidance in finding common solutions will be provided by the relevant Commission services. Guidance could be provided, for example, through sharing good practices for the same barrier(s) in other border regions. Furthermore, the Commission will provide guidance to the selected partnerships in the application of the ‘cross-border mechanism’.  

The Commission will also involve the SME Envoys of the respective EU countries of the volunteer regions so that an effective follow-up and link to SME policy in general can also be ensured at their level.

The outcomes of the joint work of selected partnerships might further be used as regulatory sand-box solutions, which might serve as a basis for EU-level solutions recommended to all European regions.

The pilot does not involve any EU funding.

Eligible participants

Eligible participants of this call are regional authorities forming a pioneer partnership with their peers in two, or maximum three, neighbouring border regions that are in charge of implementation of the focus areas in question. Equally eligible are Euregios provided they have legal personality and any European Groupings of Territorial Cooperation (EGTC) representing a pioneer partnership.

Eligible participants should sign a joint commitment letter in which they agree on the focus area and the market access barriers which they wish to work on. This joint commitment letter should clearly indicate their willingness to find common solutions.

Applicants are recommended to seek support from relevant business support organisations in their regions, such as members of the Enterprise Europe Network, that can give invaluable input into the nature of the market barriers reported by their business clients.

Selection of the pioneer partnerships

The Commission will select up to five pioneer partnerships.  

The assessment of expression of interest will be based on

  • whether the pioneer partnerships fulfil the eligibility criteria, including the geographical coverage of the partnerships
  • whether the pioneer partnerships can demonstrate their joint commitment to work on common solutions
  • whether the pioneer partnerships can demonstrate the economic impact of the market barrier(s) in the chosen focal area

Application: content and deadline

Applications should be submitted in a PDF document of maximum five pages and should address the following points

  • identification of a focal area
  • identification of one or more market barriers in the selected focal area
  • description of the economic impact of the barrier(s)
  • roadmap outlining how the partner regions intend to address this/these barrier(s)

The application should be accompanied by a joint commitment letter by the participating regions, indicating clearly their readiness to find common solutions.

Applications should be sent to:

Deadline: 15 March 2021, 17.30 (CET)

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