Cross-border cooperation in a northern light
CHISINAU. Finnish and Norwegian experiences from border management and cross-border cooperation could serve as best practices for other European border regions, the participants of this year’s European CBC Forum concluded.
The 3rd Forum on Cross-Border Cooperation in a Wider Europe took place in Chisinau, Moldova, and assembled a number of key stakeholders in European CBC.
This year’s forum devoted special attention to the experiences of Norway and Finland, two countries, which over the last 20 years have developed well-functioning mechanisms on border management and cross-border cooperation with their common eastern neighbor, Russia.
A new book published in connection with the CBC Forum concludes that a key element of success in both countries’ policies is the central role of the border areas themselves in policy making and practical cross-border cooperation. “Issues of regional development and CBC must be entrusted to regional authorities, because only the regional level of power is capable of recognizing the development needs on the ground”, the publication titled Ex Borea Lux? (“Is the light coming from the north?”), reads.
Although varying hugely in terms of both history and geography, the two borders are gradually being transformed from dead ends to dynamic gates of interaction, much thanks to systems based on a strictly rule-based border management, zero-tolerance for corruption and at the same time increasingly flexible mechanisms for cross-border traveling.
In addition, the two countries have developed innovative project grant mechanisms supporting a wide range of cross-border activities. While Finland has been in forefront in the development of EU mechanisms such as Interreg and ENPI CBC, Norway has successfully developed grant programmes in the Barents Region.
The book, which is published with support from the Finnish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Norwegian Barents Secretariat, includes both Finnish and Norwegian case studies, which are studied and reviewed by experts from other border regions, among them from Moldova, Ukraine, Russia, Hungary and Poland.
Key examples used in the book are from the Finnish-Russian cooperation in Euroregion Karelia, and from the Barents Region, where both Norway, Finland and Russia are key stakeholders.
The Forum on Cross-Border Cooperation in a Wider Europe is supported by organizations from several European border regions and organized by the Prague-based Institute of Stability and Development. The next Forum will take place in Joensuu, Finland.