Cross-border cooperation has the potential to transform a border into a possibility for development. By working together, bordering regions can jointly identify and address the specific challenges and opportunities presented by the border between them, which inevitably will lead to better relations between them and will foster a lasting trust through an integrated approach to cooperation, with the aim of exploiting unused potential to boost economic development.
Cross-border cooperation encourages networking between people, as well as between local communities and businesses. EU funding for such cooperation contributes to stability and prosperity between the union's borders and facilitates the generation of social capital and mutual understanding among the communities either side of the border, which is an important element of our vision for liberal and democratic Europe.
"European territorial cooperation programmes offers the opportunity to look outwards, work together and coordinate activities as partners"
The European Union has used funding from the regional development fund to finance cross-border and other territorial cooperation between the member states since 1990. In my capacity as parliament's regional development committee, I would like to foster and welcome cooperation between the different regions of the European Union.
This also applies to Gibraltar and Spain. European territorial cooperation programmes offers the opportunity to look outwards, work together and coordinate activities as partners, to provide added value through cooperation and deliver additional benefits to each territory.
In some ways, this area is already an example of how Europe should work. There are 10,000 frontier workers of many different EU nationalities who live in Spain but work across the border. Gibraltar has a base labour force of 22,907 workers (2013), and 32.76 per cent of these people are frontier workers, or, in other words are normally resident in Spain but employed in Gibraltar.
In turn, Spain provides an outlet for residents of Gibraltar to spend their leisure time and money in shops, restaurants and hotels. All this is possible because Europe needs regional cooperation, progress and development for all European citizens.
Therefore, cross-border territorial cooperation on both sides is entirely possible through identifying areas for cooperation on a mutually beneficial basis. In this case, areas of cooperation could include environment, tourism, sport, education and culture, and boosting the competitiveness of small and medium enterprises.
Other potential areas for cooperation include renewable energy, accessibility and mobility of workers, and cooperation in transport issues, particularly airport, ports and inland transport.
Such cooperation should aim at providing integrated solutions, thus promoting the sustainable and integrated development of both Gibraltar and Spain. It will also strengthen cooperation between citizens and entities on both sides of the border.
There are many opportunities for social, economic and territorial cooperation. During the EU's new programming period for structural funds, Gibraltar can benefit from two territorial cooperation programmes, namely the south-west Europe and the Mediterranean programmes.
Both programmes aim to ensure growth and employment by making their respective regions more competitive and also support territorial cohesion and environmental protection to ensure sustainable development.