One of the key policies carried out by the European Union is the regional policy. In fact, the EU assigns to it more than a third part of its total budget, so it is one of the crucial investment policies.
Its mission is to maintain internal cohesion: to reduce economic, social and territorial disparities within the Union, to restructure the economy of industrial declining regions, contributing to diversify its activities. The specific objectives are focused on supporting job creation, competitiveness, economic growth, improving quality of life and sustainable development through investments that contribute to achieve the objectives of the European strategy for growth 2020, aimed at smart, sustainable and inclusive growth.
One of the means to implement this change is the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), focused in regional investments through different programs. An example would be the European Territorial Cooperation (INTERREG), currently focused on an intelligent, sustainable and inclusive development of the territories.
In the field of European Cross-Border Cooperation, the EU is currently promoting the Interreg Programme Spain-France-Andorra (POCTEFA 2014-2020). It was created to promote a sustainable development for the border region among these three nations, and it co-funds cross-frontier cooperation projects designed and implemented by partners on both sides of the Pyrenees.
POCTEFA 2014-2020 has a bugdet of 189.3 million euros and its planned projects might be eligible for ERDF funding until the 65% of their total budget. The beneficiaries of this programme may be government agencies, companies, development agencies, groups, associations, foundations, chambers of commerce and education centers, among others.
The eligible area of POCTEFA 2014-2020 brings together the departments and provinces closer to the Franco-Spanish border and Andorra, taking on a Surface of 115.583 Km2 populated by 15 million inhabitants.
Participation in European Cross-Border Projects
One of the strategic lines of action of U·TRANS is to support cities and regions to identify local demands through various participation methods and channeling the results into city or regional action plans.
In the field of European cross-border projects, U·TRANS recently collaborated with the European Group of Territorial Cooperation País d’Art i Història Transfronterer de les Valls Catalanes del Tec i del Ter, a públic-private partnership that brings together 27 French and 7 Catalan municipalities for setting up a regional cross-border project framed in the context and objectives of the program POCTEFA 2015-2020.
U·TRANS participation in this project involved the identification of opportunities and collecting proposals for action at local and regional level, with the participation of local actors of the territory, which could be aligned with the priorities and objectives of the program and the preparation of the nomination dossier and documentation required to present at the announcement POCTEFA 2015.
The result of this collaboration has been the project PATRIMC@T, whose objectives are the creation of a network of sites of cultural and historical heritage of the region and some routes interpretation of this heritage targeted to the inhabitants of the area, its visitors and especially to a young audience. This may contribute to the economic development of a rural area through the creation of a global touristic offer throughout all the year, and an structure of professional shared management.
PATRIMC@T project has been one of the 58 total projects approved in the 1st call of projects POCTEFA 2014-2020 in the programming comitee of May 11th 2016, and it has a budget of 2.9M€ ERDF grant, occupying second place for the amount of the subsidy granted.
The participation of U·TRANS as an expert consultancy firm in the formulation and configuration of this project is a clear example of action related to the identification of local needs and the development of local and regional action plans.