Other countries and institutions
The African Union is Africa's premier institution and principal organization for the promotion of accelerated socio-economic integration of the continent, which will lead to greater unity and solidarity between African countries and peoples.
The AU is based on the common vision of a united and strong Africa and on the need to build a partnership between governments and all segments of civil society, in particular women, youth and the private sector, in order to strengthen solidarity and cohesion amongst the peoples of Africa.
As a continental organization it focuses on the promotion of peace, security and stability on the continent as a prerequisite for the implementation of the development and integration agenda of the Union.
African Union is looking to develop a border region co-operation programme similar to INTERREG for African Union Member States.
African Union has expressed a particular interest as well in the European Grouping of Territorial Co-operation concept, and how a similar instrument could potentially be developed for Africa.
EEA Financing Mechanism
The European Economic Area (EEA) countries (Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway) provide funding to reduce economic and social disparities through the EEA financial mechanism and the Norwegian financial mechanism.
The countries eligible for support are Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Greece, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia and Spain.
A total of €1.8 billion is available for the period 2009-2014. The thematic priorities include:
- Environmental protection and climate change
- Human and social development
- Cultural heritage
- Strengthening civil society
- Justice and home affairs
- Research and scholarship
Alignment with EU policy priorities
In the previous programming period, the Commission screened all 1250 projects that in order to check that they complied with EU policies.In the new (2009-2014) period the grants will be allocated in line with EU policy to programmes comprising of several individual projects. This means that the Commission will not screen individual projects any more, but it will check the programmes (estimated to represent about 135 programmes).
Practical information, including guidance for applicants and examples of funded projects, is available on the EEA Grants - Norway Grants website.
MERCOSUR was founded in 1991 by the Treaty of Asunción between Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay. The treaty defines its objectives, principles and instruments and lays down its institutional structure. Mercosur was conceived initially as an essentially economic integration arrangement to promote a custom union and a common market among the four founding countries. However, since 2002 the Mercosur leaders have agreed upon the need for a development model in which growth, social justice and people's dignity are linked.
The cooperation between MERCOSUR, on the one hand, and the European Union, on the other hand, is strengthening and deepening. In the framework of the globalisation of markets and increasing trade openness, questions regarding balanced regional and territorial development become ever more important.
In this context, MERCOSUR countries face similar challenges to those facing many Member States of the European Union in terms of the need for structural adjustment so that new opportunities for growth are fully exploited while seeking to promote balanced development at regional level. Exchanges of experience between MERCOSUR, on one hand, and the European Commission, on the other hand, can therefore contribute to enhanced understanding of the nature of regional problems and the regional policy response.
The principal objectives of the exchange of experience between MERCOSUR and the European Commission are:
- to co-operate and exchange information on geographically targeted and other relevant policies contributing to growth, competitiveness, employment and to achieve a better, and sustainable, territorial balance in the framework of a market economy;
- to exchange information on experiences in setting up and implementing regional policy with special emphasis on ways to promote the development of disadvantaged regions and areas including urban, rural and border areas;
- to exchange views and best practices on the organisation of multi-level forms of governance and on participative governance through the involvement of partners in the conception and implementation of regional programmes;
- to exchange experience on developing regional strategies and methodologies of multi-annual programming and implementation.
A MERCOSUR Structural Convergence Fund (FOCEM , its Spanish acronym) was recently created (2005) to spur cooperation and integration among the four full members (Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay) and to increase support for the lesser developed economies. FOCEM resources are intended for infrastructure works, increase in competition in smaller economies, promotion of social inclusion and strengthening the institutional structure and the integration process. It appears that while the approval process is multi-stage, projects such energy inter-connection are getting underway.
A seminar on "Regional development policies in the EU and MERCOSUR" will take place on 3-5 December 2008 in Brasilia (Presidency pro tempore of MERCOSUR) to cover topics such as regional policies management, managing information for decision-making, cross border cooperation, current regionalization and financing regional development. Presentation - Programme
The West African Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA in French acronym) has implemented macroeconomic convergence criteria and an effective surveillance mechanism; has adopted a customs union and common external tariff (early 2000); has harmonized indirect taxation regulations; and has initiated regional structural and sectoral policies.
The EU - South Africa Strategic Partnership - Action Plan calls for further cooperation in regional policy between UE and South Africa.
One of the major challenges facing South Africa remains wide-spread poverty coupled with high unemployment and wide income inequality, as well as substantial regional variations.
South Africa has a clear dual economy, the one being modern and relatively well developed the other characterised by underdevelopment and an entrenched crisis of poverty.
Europe's experience gained in addressing regional inequalities, in particular through in the implementation of the Structural and Cohesion Funds could serve to inform South Africa's efforts to address the challenge of the dual economy.
- First joint SA-EU seminar on Regional Policy 16 September 2010
- Second joint SA-EU seminar on Regional Policy 14 September 2011