The Romania and Bulgaria cross-border area has always been characterised by high levels of cooperation, even at small community level. This has even increased with over 14 years of cross-border cooperation through Interreg, with about 350 projects implemented so far. However, citizens are still unaware of the impact of Cohesion Policy on their daily lives and existing possibilities to influence it. Civic participation is key to identifying local and regional challenges, and to tackle them in the most effective and transparent way, especially when dealing with cross-border issues. Mechanisms for citizens’ participation in state and local governments are not known and very few young people are aware of this legislation in this region.
The RoBulUs project aims to address low civic participation in cross border cooperation, in particular by raising awareness among younger generations of the available opportunities offered by the Interreg Programme. The project’s goal is to make the explanation of the legal mechanisms of citizens’ involvement comprehensible to everyone, as well as further involving citizens in the planning, organisation decision-making processes and implementation of a sustainable cross-border approach. Youth are encouraged to play a role during the decision-making processes together with the relevant authorities and to engage in both the design and implementation of the activities to ensure their sustainability in the cross-border area. The project includes an integrated set of research, design, development, and dissemination of various activities, namely:
- A practical outline of the mechanisms through which citizens can get involved in the programme initiatives
- Sharing videos of 6 success stories of civic participation in the implementation of Interreg RO-BG programme (available here: https://robulus.eu/2021/07/29/videos-of-success-stories-of-citizens-participation-in-the-implementation-of-interreg-ro-bg-programme/)
- An interactive guide, providing step-by-step advice about civic participation mechanisms
- The RoBulUs mobile app which is available in three languages and facilitates access to information about cohesion policy and the 2021-2027 programming period, latest news about the activities in the project area, multimedia content such as videos, maps etc. and means of contacting local authorities to enable the easy communication of ideas.
This innovative initiative has developed these tools, available to everyone, in order to encourage young activists to get involved in the implementation of the Cohesion Policy programmes, in the 2021-2027 period.
The project is an initiative led by the International Management Institute, an association of universities and research entities realizing projects to support national and international grant schemes in Bulgaria, in the field of education, training and human capital.
This project focuses on the cross-border area of Bulgaria and Romania. The border length is 600km, of which 400km are marked by the Danube River, creating difficulties from an infrastructural point of view to develop businesses. As the area is close to the two capitals, Sofia and Bucharest, it is characterised by youth migration towards bigger towns, which offer more job opportunities, facilities and entertainment, which is a contributing factor to the lack of youth participation in civic life.
This project received a pilot grant from the European Commission (DG REGIO) and its implementation period went from the 01/01/2021 and ended in 31/01/2021.
RoBulUs contributes to improving communication and collaboration between citizens and local administrations, facilitating the exchange of information and ideas. Moreover, by increasing and improving participation of local target groups, in particular youth, the long-term sustainability of the activities and regional public policies is guaranteed.
What can be learnt from the project is that communication and civic involvement are key elements to having a positive and sustainable impact on cross-border regions. It is also noteworthy that the tools proposed by the project, especially the app, would be easy to replicate in other cross-border cooperation programmes.
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- Project "RoBulUs: Tools for Enhancing Youth Engagement in Romania-Bulgaria Cross-Border Cooperation" · Сдружение “МеждународенИнститутпоМениджмънт” (МИМ) (mimbg.org)
- The project was presented during the 6th ‘Beyond Borders: Breakfast debate’: https://futurium.ec.europa.eu/en/border-focal-point-network/news/watch-…