August 29, 2013
Back in 1990 the European Commission launched its first INTERREG Community Initiative (ICI), financed via the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) with more than one billion Euros. One of its main goals was to create a common vision on the future of borders in Europe. Best practices of cross-border cooperation from Benelux and the Rhine Basin started to be adopted by the European Community as part of a broader plan for cooperation and integration (L. O’Dowd, 2003: 22). Gradually, cross-border cooperation become an instrument able to enhance the effectiveness of local, regional or transnational institutions and policies (European Commission, 2011: 11).
From 1994 to 1999, encouraged by the success of the first ICI, the European officials supported the implementation of the INTERREG II Community Initiative (ICI II). This time, the total budget was more than 3.5 billion Euros. Social and economic disparities dividing “old” and “new” Europe were now tackled at regional level.