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INTERREG III is one of the four Community Initiatives . It was launched on 28th April 2000 following the positive experiences of its predecessors INTERREG I, INTERREG II and REGEN. It aims to stimulate transeuropean cooperation between years 2000 and 2006. The current phase of the INTERREG initiative is designed to strengthen economic and social cohesion throughout the EU, by fostering the balanced development of the continent through cross-border, transnational and interregional cooperation. It is therefore divided into three strands (A, B and C).

The INTERREG III Community Initiative receives funding from the EU and the Member States. EU financing comes from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), in the form of non-reimbursable grants. In total, INTERREG III has an ERDF budget of €4,875 million at 1999 prices. This funding was allocated to the three strands - A 67%, B 27% and C 6%.

Under the Strand B the EU territory (including the neighbouring regions) was divided into 13 different strategic areas (macro regions) (see the picture below). Each of the areas forms an independent programme with a separate budget, management, specific thematic focus, specific implementation procedures, etc.

The Commission delegated the responsibility for the implementation of the INTERREG III B programmes to the countries that are covered by particular programme. All INTERREG III B programmes foster transnational cooperation between national, regional and local authorities “to promote a higher degree of territorial integration across large groupings of European.

regions, with a view to achieving sustainable, harmonious and balanced development in the EU and better territorial integration with candidate and other neighbouring countries”. A special focus of this transnational cooperation is put on spatial planning and regional development.

One of the INTERREG III B programmes is the Baltic Sea Region Neighbourhood Programme. It is seeking to strengthen economic, social and spatial cohesion by focusing on disparities between different territories in order to reach an increased level of BSR integration and to form a sustainable part of Europe. It is a continuation of the INTERREG IIC BSR Programme, which was also designed to provide co-financing to transnational projects on spatial planning and regional development in the BSR.

The BSR INTERREG III B Neighbourhood programme is implemented in line with the Northern Dimension Action Plan, the VASAB 2010 strategies, and with the programmes of the Council of the Baltic Sea States (CBSS), HELCOM and Baltic 21.

All 13 Interreg IIIB programs

On 16 March 2003, the European Commission launched the Communication on Wider Europe. Some months later, the European Commission proposed significant steps to improve the EUs interventions at its external borders after enlargement. The concept of the Neighbourhood Programmes was then developed in the Communication of 1 July 2003 “Paving the Way for a New Neighbourhood Instrument”. It should cover the transition period 2004-2006 and are supposed to build on the experience from current cross-border and transnational cooperation programmes. The 2004-2006 Neighbourhood Programmes are intended to foster cooperation with neighbouring non-candidate countries through better co-ordination of existing instruments, i.e. INTERREG with Tacis CBC. They succeed the Tacis Cross-border cooperation Small Project Facility, which since 1996 has fostered cross-border relations between local, regional authorities and NGOs.

The Implementing Guidelines for the Neighbourhood Programmes 2004 – 2006 (from June 11, 2004) stipulate that the joint structures are to be established and joint procedures to be

implemented for support of joint projects, combining the internal (INTERREG) and external ) funding (Tacis). All applicants that plan to request funding from the external funding (Tacis) to finance the activities of RU/BY partners involved in their projects must be familiar with the information provided there.

Source: Baltic Sea Region INTERREG III B Neighbourhood Programme - PROGRAMME MANUAL Eighth call for project proposals 25 July – 23 September 2005.

More information of the BSR INTERREG III B Neighbourhood Programme can be found from their website http://www.spatial.baltic.net/.

The key strategic objectives of the programme

The BSR INTERREG III B Programme’s special feature is to promote joint solutions to joint problems by transnational co-operation. Its strategic objective is to strengthen economic, social and spatial cohesion by focusing on disparities between different territories in order to reach an increased level of BSR integration and to form a sustainable part of Europe. This objective has been expressed by three thematic priorities for projects, each addressing a particular policy area. The first two of those priorities have been further specified and subdivided into three measures.

LogOn Baltic belongs to the Priority 2 (Promotion of territorial structures supporting sustainable BSR development and integration of the Baltic Sea Region) and its measure 2 (Creating sustainable communication links for improved spatial integration.

Application, assessment, approval procedures

The quality assessment is carried out by the JS with support of a group of independent external experts, selected through an open tender procedure. Experts (representing different sectors and countries) demonstrate extensive professional experience and qualifications in the fields of regional development, spatial planning as well as project management and financial structure. The recommendations of the experts are used by the Secretariat when compiling the assessment reports and making proposals to the SC.
In regard to the projects requesting the external funding (Tacis) also the EC Delegations will provide comments for the assessment reports.

The Steering Committee approved 20 project proposals out of 52 regular projects submitted in the eighth application round. In addition, out of 10 submitted Tacis upgrade projects, eight proposals were approved, which together with regular projects will consume all the Tacis funds currently available in the programme under the Tacis Action Programme 2004 (MEUR 3,8). The majority of projects are approved under conditions (in particular budget reductions) and will have to apply the required changes in their setups as well as provide relevant clarifications before they can be contracted.

The eighth call for applications was closed on 23 September 2005. The approval decision was taken by the Steering Committee on 9 December 2005 in yer.

Altogether there are 120 projects approved in the Baltic Sea INTERREG IIII B programme. All remaining ERDF funds are committed (MEUR 16,8), therefore no regular rounds are planned to be organized in the future.
 

 

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