EU internal border regions cover 40 % of the EU territory and host 30 % of the population. Many of these regions are underdeveloped, mainly because their distance from administrative centres and/or insufficient infrastructure limits their capacity to communicate, connect economic actors and develop. EU cohesion policy aims to reduce this disparity through European Territorial Cooperation programmes.
A 2017 Commission communication demonstrated that removing only 20 % of the obstacles to cross-border cooperation would add 2 % to the regions’ GDP and create up to 1 million jobs. Despite the potential gains from stemming the losses from cross-border barriers, ex post evaluations on earlier cooperation programmes noted their lack of focus, the absence of a coherent strategy uniting projects, and the limited synergies with the mainstream operational programmes in these regions.
In view of this, the European Court of Auditors is currently conducting an audit to assess whether the Commission and Member States are effectively tackling the challenges faced by internal border regions. In particular, we will examine whether the programmes focus on resolving cross-border challenges or simply address general development needs.
If you wish to contact the audit team, you may do so at the following email address: ECAemail@example.com.