The capitalisation on IPA CBC programmes and concept of the new generation of IPA CBC programme (IPA CBC post 2020) were set as the key challenges for the upcoming period. These two will also be the focal activities of the CBIB+ phase 3 project in the upcoming period. Considering the current situation in the implementation of IPA CBC programmes 2014-2020 as well as the importance of these two issues for the successful implementation of the new generation of CBC programmes, the 7th CBC Regional Consultative Forum was fully dedicated to these topics.

The Regional CBC Forum, organised under the auspices of the Directorate General for Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations (DG NEAR), with the support of the EU-funded multi-beneficiary project ‘Cross-border Institution Building – CBIB+ Phase III’ took place on 19 and 20 November 2019 in hotel Ibis Styles Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Over 60 representatives of the national authorities and joint structures, as well as of the Delegations of the European Union and DG NEAR, managing the EU-funded cross-border programmes under the 2014-2020 Instruments for Pre-accession Assistance (IPA II) attended the event.

Ms Zara Halilović, Assistant Director, Directorate for European Integration, on behalf of the national authorities of Bosnia-Herzegovina, and Mr Colin Wolfe, Head of Unit ‘Western Balkans Regional Cooperation and Programmes’ in DG NEAR, on behalf of the European Commission, greeted the participants at the event. They underscored the following:

  • the forum represents a great opportunity to exchange views and pieces of information on how the IPA II CBC programmes are being implemented and the expectations for improvement under the post-2020 programmes’ generation;
  • the relevance to disseminate good practice examples of CBC projects;
  • CBC projects are seen as a success story at local level which needs to be visible to a wider social audience;
  • the second round of calls for proposals in almost all programmes were published this year and in general the selection process is well under course;
  • more efforts have to be invested in progressing towards the entrustment of indirect management where this is not yet a reality;
  • the commitment of the European Commission to put forward once again next year the start of accession negotiations with Albania and North Macedonia, despite the opinion of some Member States;
  • the significance of meetings of this kind as a proof that regional cooperation and working together are meaningful to show the Western Balkans progress in EU accession in a different light;
  • CBC should serve as a showcase that participants are bringing results and impact with their actions to the local population in socio-economic development and environmental protection;
  • CBC demonstrates that people at local level can cooperate and make a difference working on practical things.

The first session of the Forum was dedicated to the presentation on the progress made for the implementation of nine 2014-2020 IPA II CBC programmes, major challenges in the implementation and good practice project examples. The presentations were followed by proactive and constructive discussion on both achievements and possible solutions for the challenges in implementation of the programmes.

During the first part of the second session of the Forum, the performance framework and usage of the WB IPA CBC monitoring system: the case of the IPA II CBC programmes North Macedonia – Albania and Bosnia and Herzegovina – Montenegro were presented by programmes’ representatives and CBIB+3 project and later discussed in plenary. The second part of this session was reserved for the presentation of the Mid-term evaluation of the 2014-2020 IPA II CBC programmes (planned timetable and input needed from the programmes’ managing structures) and the compulsory guidance application package for IPA II CBC calls for proposals. Both presentations were delivered by Mr Laurent Guirkinger, CBC Coordinator in DG NEAR.

During the third session, the Forum participants had a chance to benefit from the lessons learned and good practices of the capitalisation under the Interreg and Interreg IPA CBC programmes, presented by Mr Nebojša Nikolić, Communication Manager, Interact programme.

The first session of the Forum’s second day was focused on presenting the proposed approach for the systematic and targeted capitalisation activities and launching of the capitalisation network on environment under the IPA II CBC programmes.

The focus of the second day was on post-2020 IPA CBC programmes’ preparation. The information on the progress with the IPA III CBC programming framework and expected timeframe was presented by Mr Laurent Guirkinger. Later followed the consultation process on the draft proposal presented through four working groups dealing with specific aspects of programme definition and implementation. Subsequently, the conclusions from the group discussions were presented and discussed in plenary.

The session before closure of the event was dedicated to the presentation of the key conclusions of the workshop for JTSs of the IPA II CBC programme that was organised in September 2019 in Montenegro. Mr Darko Čukuranović, Programme Associate for CBC Programmes Serbia-Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia – Montenegro, Ministry of European Integration, the Republic of Serbia presented the main conclusions from the discussion on interventions needed for further improvement of the quality of IPA CBC projects. Mr Nikola Đonović, Project Officer with Communication Specialization, JTS for Montenegro – Albania and Montenegro – Kosovo programmes made presentation on better usage of available information and modalities for reinforcing the visibility and promotion of IPA II CBC programmes within and outside WB borders.

Back-to-back with the 7th CBC Regional Consultative Forum, the CBIB+ phase 3 project Steering Committee meeting was organised on 19 November 2019.

*This designation is without prejudice to positions on status, and is in line with UNSCR 1244 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo declaration of independence