Today, a vast majority in the European Parliament adopted Pascal Arimont‘s final report on the Interreg-programme for the next funding period 2021-2027. Belgian Rapporteur Arimont fought for a strong and clear mandate to secure Interreg funding and to make cross-border cooperation easier.
“In the light of the European policy challenges represented by nationalist tendencies and anti-European stances, Interreg is an important symbol against the concept of isolation and for cooperation amongst neighbours. We want border hindrances to be removed - including, above all, the ones in people’s minds. Border regions should become communal spaces in which Europe becomes a tangible reality in everyday life. This is what the Interreg programme enables us to do”, said Pascal Arimont, who is the European Parliament’s Rapporteur and chief negotiator. “It is therefore imperative not to cut the programme's budget. We as parliamentarians objected to the Commission’s budget proposal and suggested a substantial increase of funding. This is important, not just for European border regions but for Europe as a whole. EU Member States must have good neighbourly relations”, explains Arimont who recommended adding an extra EUR 2.73 billion to earmark a total amount of EUR 11.16 billion for European territorial cooperation.
“Furthermore, we want to reduce red tape to help organizations to implement their cross-border activities more easily. The requirements have increased from one funding period to the next, to such an extent that prospective beneficiaries are already being deterred from even making an application. There still is too much paperwork involved. We should enhance cross-border cooperation and motivate people to carry out these projects instead of creating new obstacles”, added Arimont. “In particular small projects and people-to-people projects bring individuals together at local level and are hugely important for the development of border areas. Applicants are usually civil society actors. To ensure that such small projects can be successfully implemented, it is crucial that arrangements for them should be simplified and that the rules governing them should be clear”, concluded Arimont.
Interreg is one of the key instruments of the European Union supporting cooperation across borders through project funding. Its aim is to jointly tackle common challenges and find shared solutions in fields such as health, environment, research, education, tourism, transport, sustainable energy and more. Interreg is one of the two goals of the EU Cohesion Policy and is funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).
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