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Impact of enlargement on regions bordering candidate countries - Community Action plan (July 2001)

The communication :
and annex with information by member State :

Map of regions bordering candidate countries and main economic indicators

The action plan proposes a series of measures which should help prepare for enlargement of the Union. In particular, it should encourage regions on opposite sides of the border to grow closer together as part of the accession process. The range of measures proposed by the Commission fall into three main categories:

  • Measures aimed at providing specific additional funding to assist the transport infrastructure and to promote small and medium-sized firms and youth exchanges. In particular, EUR 150 million is earmarked for new transport links in the framework of the trans-European networks (2003-06), EUR 50 million of which will come from a reallocation of existing funds. At the same time, it is proposed that the maximum level of Community support for individual trans-European infrastructure projects should be raised from 10% to 20%. Additional support of EUR 15 million (EUR 10 million of which is already provided for in the 2001 budget) is to benefit information exchange and mentoring projects between small and medium-sized firms on opposite sides of the frontier in border regions. A EUR 10 million boost in funding for the European YOUTH programme is to be used specifically for projects in border regions.

  • Measures aimed at allowing resources available under existing INTERREG III A programmes or existing structural assistance to be reallocated. In particular, as from 2003, Member States may reallocate funds earmarked for individual regions in order to provide border regions with even greater support than they have received to date in preparing for enlargement between 2003 and 2006. In addition, EUR 20 million of the funding provided under the INTERREG programme for networking in general is specifically reserved for cooperation projects in border regions.

  • Measures aimed at coordinating different European policies more efficiently in order to take account of the particular needs of border regions. First, the Phare CBC Regulation is to be amended by the end of 2002. This should enable follow-up financing to be provided for INTERREG projects. Member States, acting in agreement with the Commission and in accordance with the national assistance criteria proposed by the Member States in 1997, will also be able to grant state aid targeted at border regions. Lastly, the special situation of border regions will also have to be taken into account in the information policy of both the Union and the Member States.

In addition, the European Investment Bank will provide extra lending facilities aimed at promoting environment and transport investments in border regions in the applicant countries. This has been made possible by an allocation of EUR 50 million under the Phare programme.
Overall financing under this action plan for the harmonious development of border regions amounts to EUR 245 million, EUR 50 million of which is specifically reserved for border regions in the applicant countries. EUR 115 million of the total comes from new reserves and the remaining EUR 130 million from reallocations.

For the purposes of amending the Financial Regulation for the trans-European networks, the proposed measures require a prior initiative on the part of the Commission, in collaboration with the Council and Parliament. The additional funding allocated must be approved by the budgetary authority.

The Financial Regulation for Phare and the INTERREG Guidelines are amended by means of a Commission decision. All other measures require an initiative by the Member States.

Implementation of the action programme will be monitored by a special Commission working group set up for this purpose.


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