From Calarasi to Ruse, from Costanza to Veliko Tarnovo, EU Cohesion Policy has supported hundreds of actions and infrastructure investment in the fields of transport, science, education, youth employment, environment and support for small and medium-sized enterprises in Romania and Bulgaria.
Cross-border cooperation (Interreg V-A) in specific, represents one of the main goals of the policy, aiming at tackling common issues and challenges identified from border regions, at enhancing the growth dynamics of those areas, while promoting the values of solidarity and shared mentality.
Despite the occasional shadows and delays in the project planning, the difficulties in the implementation and the bureaucratic obstacles, the Romanian-Bulgarian cross-border cooperation has transformed the economy and the relations between the two countries, improving significantly the quality of life of their citizens.
In this special report, EURACTIV focuses on some of the most important aspects of this shared socioeconomic ecosystem, capturing its core characteristics and added value.
When it comes to European structural funds, one of the main concerns is the capacity of the member states to attract them. Cooperation between public authorities has proven to be a driving factor.
Ahead of the European Week of Regions and Cities, the debate on Cohesion policy continues to spark tension inside the Brussels bubble as well as among stakeholders and networks of regions and cities across Europe.
Strahil Karapchanski, the deputy mayor of Ruse, the largest Bulgarian city on the Danube, told EURACTIV about the history, the present and his hopes for the future of cross-border regional cooperation with Romania, which he has helped to oversee.
Since 2014, the Romania-Bulgaria Interreg programme has helped to boost the economy on both sides of the border by promoting cross-border trade and boosting cooperation in tourism, agriculture and industry. EURACTIV spoke to a business representative of companies operating in the area.
While Brexit and the new EU priorities threaten to reduce the funds allocated for cross-border cooperation after 25 years, the Commission wants to improve Interreg with a new legal framework for cooperation between regions.