Russia and the EU have agreed to allocate a total of 600 million EUR to cross-border project cooperation. The sum, half of which is provided by the Russian side, could open a new era in project cooperation between the two sides.
The deal was officially announced by Russian Minister of Regional Development Dmitrii Kozak and EU Commissioner of Regional Policy Danita Hübner, during the latter’s visit to Moscow this week.
Of the funding, the Russian federal budget will match the EU Commission’s 122 million EUR. In addition, the Russian regions involved will match the 180 million EUR of the EU border regions.
From the Russian side, the Northwest Russian subjects will be the cooperating parties. From the EU side, Finland the Baltic states will be cooperation partners. The Russia-EU border is 2200 km long.
In addition, non-EU member Norway is cooperation partner, first of all through the Kolarctic Programme.
Russian regional focus
The new money allocated will open up unprecedented opportunities for east-west cooperation in northern Europe. While the western side so far has provided by far most of the project money, the Russians will now have their own substantial contributions.
At the same time, the Russian Ministry of Regional Development will keep a close eye on the project spending and could use the funding as a pressure tool against the regional administrations. According to the ministry website, Minister Dmitrii Kozak says projects which fail to bring economic results will have “political consequences”. He also says that the regions which start up failed projects will be deprived the chance to get more federal project money.
The 600 million EUR is a breakthrough in Russian-EU project cooperation. At the same time, however, the announcement comes more than a year after original schedules. The ENPI programme was originally to start providing project funding already from spring 2009. Now, the programme deadlines will start only from spring 2009.