Between February 4 and 16, potential applicants to an EU-funded programme on territorial cooperation between Ukraine and Belarus can attend information days held across Ukraine. The programme provides funding opportunities for cross-border projects jointly implemented by participants from Ukraine and Belarus. The deadline for proposals is April 19, 2016.
The Belarus-Ukraine programme is one of four programmes within the framework of the Eastern Partnership Territorial Cooperation (EaPTC), which receives a total of €12.5 million of EU funding annually. The share allocated to the Belarus-Ukraine amounts to €3.3 million. On the Ukrainian side, the Chernihiv, Zhytomyr, Kyiv, Rivne, and Volyn’ regions take part in the programme; in Belarus, the Gomel and Brest regions participate. Each project is eligible to receive between €60,000 and $250,000 in EU funding. To be eligible for the programme, the applicant organisations, which must be Ukrainian and Belarusian, must cover 10% of the total costs of the project.
An information day was held in Zhytomyr on February 8, bringing together about 100 government representatives, municipalities and NGO activists.
“These info days are very useful,” says Zhanna Solovyova, head of the Zhytomyr NGO, Modern Format . “Putting together a project proposal requires time and a clear understanding of the different nuances of the programme. This is an opportunity to learn about the programme. Having attended this event, it will be much easier for participants to prepare their proposals, and organisers will receive better quality of applications.”
“For the last few years, we have been actively cooperating with international foundations and programmes,” says Borys Pakholiuk, deputy director of the Department for Economic Development of Zhytomyr City Council. “We have some experience with project proposals and plan to assist local NGOs in preparing proposals for the competition. There are many opportunities to accomplish interesting things through this programme in the spheres of education, culture, and healthcare. City Council can help in implementing and co-funding these projects, as applicants must cover 10% of costs.”
EaPTC is a unique programme. It is the first time the EU has provided opportunities for Eastern Partnership countries to implement cross-border projects without the participation of EU member states. In addition to the Belarus-Ukraine programme, there are three other programmes within the EaPTC: Moldova-Ukraine, Georgia-Armenia, and Georgia-Azerbaijan. In each case, the partners jointly and independently define their priorities and operational goals. The Belarus-Ukraine programme has three priority areas: improving the living conditions of local communities in the border regions through joint projects, supporting economic and social development; addressing common challenges in the fields of environment, employment, public health; any other fields having a cross border dimension; culture, education and sport.
Another interesting component of the programme is the EaPTC Support Programme, which conducts the information days in cooperation with the EaPTC Managing Authority (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit, GIZ). The information days are, in practice, training sessions for programme applicants. The EaPTC Support Programme goes even further and hosts “project clinics,” allowing applicants, before officially submitting their projects to the programme administrator, to apply to the EaPTC Support Programme to assess their project proposals in terms of quality and compliance with the requirements of the competition. The applicants can also get free individual consultation on budget, bureaucratic, and other concerns associated with the application process. Consultations for the Belarus-Ukraine programme began on February 8 and will continue until February 21.
Alexei Sekarev, team leader of the EaPTC Support Programme team, says that they expect to receive about one hundred project proposals. “The competition will be tough,” he predicts. Sekarev answered questions at a press conference together with Erk Roeloffs, head of the EaPTC administration, and Yaroslav Laguta, deputy head of Zhytomyr Oblast State Administration. A local newspaper covering the event ran the optimistic headline, “From now on, thanks to EU funding, the Zhytomyr region will be able to develop together with Belarus.” The EaPTC seeks to accomplish exactly that.
The overall objective of the Eastern Partnership Territorial Cooperation (EaPTC) is sustainable territorial cooperation between border regions to benefit their social and economic development. It is achieved by strengthening cross-border contacts between local authorities, communities and civil society organisations for the development of joint solutions to common social and economic challenges.
More information: www.eaptc.eu