Share the obstacle you face: make of a specific problem a European solution!
b-solutions is a 4-year initiative to tackle legal and administrative border obstacles/difficulties along EU internal borders. It is promoted by the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Regional and Urban Policy (DG REGIO) as one of the actions proposed in the referred Communication Boosting growth and cohesion in EU border regions, adopted by the Commission on 20 September 2017. The initiative is managed by the Association of European Border Regions (AEBR).
With b-solutions, AEBR and DG REGIO strive to be closer to local administrations in border areas: the initiative represents a great occasion to collect information with a bottom-up approach in which practitioners of cross-border cooperation can tell what obstacles they encounter when trying to realise projects with the neighbouring countries.
To obtain as many information as possible about the state of play of cooperation within the European Union, AEBR and DG REGIO have planned to launch four calls for proposals under b-solutions:
- the first call for proposals was opened in early 2018 to address cross-border partnerships and structures from internal EU (and, potentially, EFTA as associated partners) land borders. Aim of the call was to receive proposals for projects to overcome legal and administrative border challenges by presenting innovative solutions. 36 applications were submitted of which thirty-one were considered eligible and consequentely assessed by the Selection Committee. Finally,10 Pilot Actions were awarded a sub-grant of up to € 20,000 each to support the realisation of their projects;
- the second call for proposals was launched in early 2019 to engage public authorities and cross-border entities from internal EU borders, with the possibility to involve partners also from EFTA countries. The objective of the call was to draw the attention of public authorities experiencing osbstacles of administrative and/or legal nature to be better identified thanks to the help of external legal experts. Upon the quality assessment performance made by the Association of European Border Regions (AEBR) and the EU Commission's DG REGIO, among the 44 applications received, 33 advice cases were selected to receive support from assigned legal experts with knowledge of cross-border instances. The experts were assigned to one or more advice cases with which they cooperated in structuring the definition of the identified hurdles in a clear and systematic way, as well as to elaborate solutions to them and to outline a legal framework from which to proceed;
- a third call for proposals has been launched in July 2020. Out of 27 applications received by October 2020, 23 cases addressing legal and administrative obstacles have been selected to receive technical support from legal experts who will analyse the reasons of the impediments and will propose possible solutions;
- finally, in mid-January 2021, the Association of European Border Regions (AEBR) opened a fourth and final call for proposals to select a maximum of 27 border obstacles more.
Among the 30 proposals received, 24 of them have been awarded to receive legal specialised support by legal experts, following the same scheme of the previous two calls.
The overall implementation period of cases selected under this call goes from April 2021 up to end of June 2021.
Following the indications included in the EU Commission's Communication "Boosting Growth and Cohesion in European Border Regions (COM(2017)534)" all the calls for proposals are structured in thematic areas which refer to priority fields for cross-border cooperation and within which pilot actions are implemented and advice cases classified.
The thematic areas are: employement, public transport (of passengers), health - including emergency services, instituional cooperation, multilingualism, eGovernment, information services, evidence and data.
Information on the pilot actions and advice cases under each topic are available here.
AEBR disseminates the results of the Pilot Actions and Advice Cases throughout the whole duration of b-solutions. A consolidated report (compendium) illustrating main findings and proposals to foster cooperation was released in Spring 2020.
A second compendium, including the result of the third and fourth calls for proposals, together with other publications, addressing both specialised and general audiences, will follow in winter 2021/2022.
A crucial aspect of the b-solutions initiative is the capitalisation of the information collected, which is relevant not just to EU and regional policy-makers but also to all cross-border actors around the EU. Hence, the dissemination and communication aspects of the initiative are fundamental for the long-term success of the action.
The exploitation of results will concentrate on the replicability of tested solutions to solve cross-border obstacles in other EU border regions.