LACE - TAP (1996-2001)

Project title: LACE - TAP (1996-2001) - Technical Assistance and Promotion of Cross-Border Cooperation on internal and external border
Project starting date: 09-1996
Project end date: 12-2001

The LACE-TAP measure was proposed to the European Commission in March 1996 by the AEBR and its implementation commenced in September 1996 following approval by the Commission.  Its overall duration is envisaged to be until the end of the year 2001. 

The measure was implemented in two phases:

  • Phase 1 covered the period from 1 September 1996 to 31 March 1999.
  • Phase 2 was divided in two periods:

           - Period A commenced on 1 April 1999 and its duration was extended to 31 March 2001

           - Period B for the remainder of the project to 31 December 2001

LACE - TAP concerned Technical Assistance and Promotion of Cross-Border Cooperation on internal and external border regions of the EU, especially related to the Community Initiative Interreg IIA and aimed at a stronger involvement of regional and local level and social partners in cross-border cooperation. The project began in September 1996 and it was intended to accompany Interreg IIA until its completion in 2001.  The first phase of LACE-TAP ended in December 1998.

LACE-TAP built on the experience of the LACE (Linkage, Assistance and Cooperation for the European Border Regions) pilot project which was carried out between 1990 and 1995 by AEBR, with the support of the European Commission.  This pilot project supported cross-border cooperation in the EU and established LACE as the observatory for cross-border cooperation.

The European Commission (DG XVI, now DG REGIO) supported LACE-TAP with a grant covering two-thirds of its costs, contributions from AEBR and the (cross) border regions cover the remaining costs.

What were the aims of LACE-TAP?

Until the year 2001, LACE-TAP aimed to

  • encourage the development of cross-border cooperation in those parts of Europe where it had no tradition and to increase the intensity of cross-border cooperation in others with longer tradition;
  • facilitate the effective implementation of the Interreg IIA Community Initiative, by providing EU-level and specific technical assistance to border regions to regional, local and social partners throughout the European Union, and to the European Commission.
  • establish cross-border cooperation structures and organisations.

What were the activities of LACE-TAP?

LACE-TAP offered a broad range of instruments and activities to encourage and facilitate cross-border cooperation.  The project makes use of three main activities:

1) Networking

Networking involved activities in which regional and local practitioners, experts, social partners and other representatives of the border regions exchanged actively information and experience throughout the European Union. This included feedback from the border regions concerning strategies, projects, cross-border structures and specific related problems, as well as information and advice to the border regions regarding good practice from an EU-wide point of view. Main tools were as follows:

  • the development and coordination of a European network of practitioners, linked with Interreg/European border regions and national/regional experts;
  • development and updating of the European border regions’ database to provide the infrastructure for the networking activities and valuable inputs to the EU-wide monitoring;
  • the establishment and operation of a number of TAP offices and antennae in border regions and in Brussels. They facilitated flows of information to and from the European Commission and generally the EU-level via AEBR and served as important reporting system on the progress of cross-border cooperation. They also played a major role in disseminating publications within border regions and at national level.

2) Technical Assistance

Through its technical assistance LACE-TAP systematised and crystallised good practice at EU level and transferred know-how to groups of border regions, mainly focusing on those with objective 1 status and other priority border regions. Technical assistance was also provided to the European Commission and as appropriate to national authorities responsible for Interreg. Tools included:

  • a Think-Tank to exchange scientific knowledge and to provide advice in the field of cross-border cooperation. It aimed to discover new needs and ways of responding to them.
  • a Core technical team which offered a central resource of high standard expertise
  • advisory support to provide know-how which was lacking in certain categories of border regions; between 15-20 border regions were be supported every year.
  • workshops, seminars and conferences addressed to regional and local practitioners and national/regional experts. They aimed to transfer know-how, information and advice on EU-level best practice to groups of border regions. They included training and thematic workshops in various border regions, an annual international conference and review seminars with Commission’s desk officers and evaluators of operational programmes;
  • exchanges and study visits to facilitate direct contacts between practitioners from groups of less advanced border regions and successful operations in other border regions.

3) Publications

Various forms of European-wide publicity in different languages were used to raise awareness of issues affecting the European border regions and promote good practice.  They included:

  • an updated Practical Guide as a comprehensive technical document presenting EU-wide technical advice for reference purposes and practical answers to cross-border cooperation matters;
  • a magazine with a widespread diffusion in all European border regions as well as EU/national level institutions;
  • info-sheets dedicated to particular themes (sectoral reviews on spatial planning, environment and tourism, economic development, etc.) and presenting Interreg O.P.s, projects, etc.
  • special studies, reports, working documents:
    • Vademecum on cross-border and interregional cooperation at the external borders of the EU,
    • Study on maritime cross-border cooperation,
    • Report on the future of Interreg,
    • Crossborder Financial Management
    • The EU Initiative INTERREG and future developments

Comprehensive information on the LACE-TAP project is contained in the Final Reports

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