Lithuania-Poland-Russia ENPI Cross-border Cooperation Programme 2007-2013
Lithuania Polish Russia English
Lithuania-Poland-Russia ENPI Cross-border Cooperation Programme 2007-2013 BW

History of cooperation

History of cross-border cooperation in the eligible area.

Since 1946 until the beginning of the 1990s, Kaliningrad region and the Lithuanian Republic were not separated by state borders. Close interrelations and institutional ties, numerous contacts between organisations and private persons characterized that period and explain nowadays' mutual understanding of each other. On the other hand, cooperation between Polish and Russian local, regional and national governments in the eligible area started to develop actively only in the 90s. In 1990 a first border crossing point (Braniewo-Mamonovo) was opened between Poland and Kaliningrad region. At the same time (1990) Lithuania declared independence and the Russian-Lithuanian borders emerged. This resulted in an exclave character of Kaliningrad Oblast, now surrounded by the EU territory and the Baltic Sea.

Co-operation between the three countries is reflected in the work of two intergovernmental Councils: Polish-Russian and Lithuanian-Russian.

The Russian-Polish Council was officially established in 1992 by the Russian-Polish intergovernmental agreement on cooperation between Kaliningrad oblast and north-eastern voivodships of Republic of Poland (art. 15). The Council is chaired by the Minister of territorial development and relations to local municipalities of Kaliningrad regional government and by the Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs and Administration of Poland. There are 12 Commissions working within the council on thematic issues such as bordercrossings or environmental protection.

The Russian-Lithuanian Council was established in 1999 in accordance with the Russian-Lithuanian inter-governmental agreement on long-term cooperation between Kaliningrad Oblast and Lithuanian regions (art. 8). This Council is chaired by the Vice-Premier of Kaliningrad Oblast Government and the Undersecretary of Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Lithuania. Eight different Commissions work within the framework of the Council, on thematic issues such as on economic cooperation or transport.

Cross-border co-operation from the very outset has concentrated on the common problems of the neighbouring regions and aimed at making the regions more competitive and attractive. The authorities of Polish and Lithuanian regions neighbouring Kaliningrad Oblast signed agreements on permanent co-operation with their Kaliningrad counterparts. Euroregions were also established: the Nemunas-Niemen-Neman in 1997 and Euroregion Baltic (ERB) in 1998, with the participation of core regions of the programme area (Klaipeda,Taurage, and Marijampole counties, Warmia-Mazury, Podlaskie and Pomorskie Regions, Kaliningrad Oblast). Numerous activities and projects, both at regional and local level, were developed within the Euroregion frameworks and provided notably the ERB with long-term development foundations.

The Euroregional structures have also been used for channelling EU funds for regional development and cross-border cooperation from various budgetary lines. The total amount of grants allocated to projects between 1998 and 2005 exceeded 8.9 million Euros for Euroregion Baltic and 13.2 million Euros for Euroregion Nemunas-Niemen-Neman, which resulted in 240 and 279 cross-border projects respectively. In many projects the partnership had a genuine international character, although sometimes it was rather challenging due to different rules regulating PHARE and TACIS spending.

After the EU enlargement in 2004, a new EU supporting programme for the Kaliningrad. Oblast and its regional neighbours from Lithuania and Poland was launched: the Neighbourhood Programme Lithuania, Poland and Kaliningrad Region of Russian Federation. More than €44.5 million (€36.5 million from ERDF and €8 million from TACIS) were allocated to the programme for the period 2004-2006, which resulted in 162 cross-border projects granted, along two priorities: competitiveness and productivity growth of the cooperation area through delopment of cross-border infrastructure and border security, economic and scientific/technological co-operation (priority 1); and people to people cooperation, socio-cultural integration and the labour market (priority 2).

Since the mid-1990s, the number of initiatives involving regions from the eligible area has been regularly increasing. Strategic undertakings have been pursued together, as exemplified by the cooperation around the Vistula river and lagoon. The regions took part in several transnational projects, aimed for instance to enhance maritime transport (Baltic Gateway) or transnational development (South Baltic Arc).

The partners from the eligible area also cooperate within regional organizations, institutions and initiatives, inter alia: Vision and Strategies around the Baltic Sea (VASAB), Ars Baltica, Baltic Sea Sub regional Co-operation (BSSSC), Conference of Peripheral Maritime Regions of Europe - Baltic Sea Commission (BSC CPMR), Union of the Baltic Cities (UBC), Baltic Alliance of Regional Development Institutions (BARDI) and many others. Political umbrella is given by the Council of the Baltic Sea States (CBSS) and in a wider sense by the Northern Dimension as a framework for co-operation between the EU and Russia, in particular.

 



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