BULGARIA-MACEDONIA CROSS BORDER COOPERATION PROGRAMME 2014-2020
The INTERREG IPA Cross-border Cooperation Programme Bulgaria – the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia is designed in the framework of the European strategy for a smart, inclusive and sustainable growth and the relevant national and regional strategic documents. The main policy framework at European, macro-regional and national level as reflected in the programme are as follows:
The Europe 2020: A European Strategy for Smart, Sustainable and Inclusive Growth
The Europe 2020 strategy is shared among the European institutions, the Member States and the social partners in order to take the necessary action to reach the Europe 2020 targets. The strategy puts forward three mutually reinforcing priorities:
- Smart growth: developing an economy based on knowledge and innovation,
- Sustainable growth: promoting a more resource efficient, greener and more competitive economy and
- Inclusive growth: fostering a high-employment economy delivering social and territorial cohesion.
It sets focus on five overarching headline targets that have to be reached by 2020. These targets require a mixture of national and EU actions, utilising the full range of policies and instruments available.
In the context of the INTERREG IPA Cross-border Cooperation Programme Bulgaria – the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia the synergy with the aforementioned national and EU actions is sought.
THE PROGRAMME AREA
The programme area is located in the South-Central part of the Balkan Peninsula. It covers a territory of 18 087 km² and has a population of 980 375 people The border line is 165 km of land border.
The territory includes on Bulgarian side two NUTS III districts - Blagoevgrad and Kyustendil (52,5% of the CBC programme area), comprising of 23 municipalities, 462 settlements and a population of 452 973 people (46.2% of the total programme area population, 6,2% of the country population).
The territory on side of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia comprises of the North-East, the East and the South-East NUTS III statistical regions (47,5% of the programme area, 33,4% of the country area), consisting of 27 municipalities, 597 settlements and a population of 527 402 people (53,8% of the total programme area population, 25.6 % of the country population).
More than half of the Programme area is mountainous, with forests occupying 46.5% of it, but also numerous valleys with fertile land. The climate is diverse, from moderate-continental, transitional-continental and mountainous to Mediterranean along the river valleys. The area is rich in water resources: rivers (the biggest are Struma, Mesta, Bregalnica, Strumica / Strumeshnica); lakes (part of Dojran Lake, Vodoca, Mantovo; 233 lakes in Rila and 186 in Pirin, of which the most popular are the Seven Rila lakes) and thermal waters, available across the whole cooperation area.
The CBC region is characterized by a concentration of population, economic and social activities in several regional centres (Blagoevgrad, Kyustendil, Dupnitsa, Sandanski, Goce Delchev and Petrich on Bulgarian side; Kumanovo, Shtip and Strumica on side of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia – 37% of the region’s population) and numerous sparsely populated rural and peripheral areas in the mountains and closer to the border. The orientation of each part of the CBC region is towards its internal centres rather than cross-border which is also due to the fact that important transport corridors run through them thus providing easier access to outside centres and links to the countries’ capitals.
Good foundation for regional cooperation: Accumulated cross-border cooperation experience, similar challenges and the same languages and mentality provide good foundation for regional cooperation. Opportunities for institutional capacity building and cross-border cooperation will enhance mutual confidence and partnerships and further develop institutional support mechanisms as well as sharing of good practices and experiences in different fields.