The European Commission adopted today a cross border cooperation programme for Greece and Bulgaria which first priority is to boost the competitiveness of SMEs and help them expand beyond local markets. It is worth €129 million, with a contribution from the European Union of more than €110 million from theEuropean Regional Development Fund.
Corina Crețu, Commissioner for Regional Policy, said: "This programme will help the border regions of Bulgaria and Greece to work together and address common challenges. This new programme is clearly result-oriented and will make a real difference on the ground, from improved transport infrastructure to opportunities for new jobs."
The programme will focus on the following four priorities:
- A Competitive and Innovative Cross Border Area
- A Sustainable and Climate adaptable Cross Border Area
- A Better interconnected Cross Border Area
- A Socially Inclusive Cross Border Area
The programme, which covers 11 Greek and Bulgarian regions, will also improve cross border cooperation to better protect the local population from the risk of flooding. It will develop and promote the border area's cultural and natural heritage. Furthermore, investments under the Interreg programme will improve the management of water resources and cross border connectivity. This means reduced travel times as well as improved traffic safety. Finally, the programme aims to expand social entrepreneurship in the border area, leading to increased employment in social enterprises and enhanced delivery of social services to vulnerable communities.
Some expected results:
- Improved entrepreneurial climate
- Better access to key markets and a wider customer base for SMEs.
- Increased resilience to cross border natural disasters (floods).
- Increased tourist traffic in the border area.
- Reduced travel times and improved traffic safety.