European Territorial Cooperation (ETC) has been a part of cohesion policy since 1990.It is the instrument that is designed to solve problems which transcend national borders and require a common solution, and to jointly develop the potential of diverse territories.
The amount allocated to ETC for the 2021-2027 budgetary period is 8 billion EUR. These resources will support cooperation across borders through numerous INTERREG programmes divided over three categories:
The Romania – Bulgaria Cross Border Cooperation Programme is part of the INTERREG A family. Its goal is to develop the border area between the two countries by supporting joint initiatives that look for solution of common challenges or common use of the untapped growth potential. It has run for 2 programing periods already and almost 350 projects have been implemented. Thus, approximately 476 million euros were invested in wide-range of interventions from improving accessibility and connectivity, to promoting socio-economic development, supporting environment protection, promoting human capital and improving governance.
The programmes target area consists of 7 counties in Romania (Mehedinti, Dolj, Olt, Teleorman, Giurgiu, Calarasi, Constanta) and 8 districts from Bulgaria (Vidin, Vratsa, Montana, Pleven, Veliko Tarnovo, Ruse, Silistra, Dobrich). That area faces some territorial challenges, incl.:
- The counties and the districts from the cross-border area are part from the poorest 10 regions from EU; strong economic disparities in crossborder region;
- Danube – natural barrier in the way of cross-border cooperation, which make the area into a peripheral one (there are only 2 bridges cross the Danube on 470 km);
- Lack of transport infrastructure – there are only 220 km of Highway parallel with the border line (Bucharest-Constanta);
- Physical deterioration of ports infrastructure;
- Poor health of the population in the border area;
- Unexploited potential transport given the Danube water;
- Low rate of urbanization;
- Border region faces a strong population migration phenomenon and an important poverty and social exclusion risk