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. Thirty-six 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;
- two further calls for proposals will be open in 2020, involving public authorities and cross-border entities from internal EU borders, with the possibility to involve also partners of EFTA countries. Similarly to the second call, the third and the fourth ones aim to document osbstacles of an administrative and/or legal nature that hinder cross-border cooperation. A total of 50 more advice cases will receive support from legal experts analysing the reasons of the impediments and outlining solutions to overcome them.
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 is to be released in Spring 2020.
More publications showcasing lessons learned and policy recommendations will follow.
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.
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