Following the Russian military aggression against Ukraine and in line with the Commission‘s decision to fully implement all EU restrictive measures, the Commission has suspended the cooperation with Russia and its ally Belarus in the European Neighbourhood Instrument cross-border cooperation programs (ENI CBC) as well as in the Interreg Baltic Sea region program.
This means, among others, that no further payments will be made to Russia or Belarus. The suspension has immediate effect for the nine ENI CBC programs involving Russia and Belarus and for the transnational program Interreg Baltic Sea region under the programming period 2014-2020. The overall EU funding for the eight programs with Russia is €178 million, while the total EU funding for the two programs with Belarus amounts to €257 million. The rules on the ENI CBC provide for the suspension of cooperation with external countries in case of breaches to international law, human rights, democratic principles, and the rule of law. Cooperation with both countries in programs under the new programming period 2021-2027 is also suspended.
Commissioner for Cohesion and Reforms, Elisa Ferreira, said: “The Russian military aggression is a blatant violation of the UN Charter, international law and the rules-based order. Suspending all cross-border and transnational programs and payments to Russia and Belarus and, at the same time, strengthening the support to Ukraine is a concrete expression of European and Cohesion policy solidarity with the Ukrainian people.”
Further support to Ukraine
At the same time, the Commission is urgently exploring legal and operational possibilities to strengthen the existing cross-border cooperation programs between EU countries (Poland, Hungary, Romania, Slovakia) and Ukraine, as well as the participation of Ukraine in the ENI CBC Black Sea Basin Programme or the Interreg Danube Transnational Programme.
With more than 1,000 existing partnerships between regional and local authorities of the EU and Ukraine border regions, the programs offer opportunities to channel rapid, effective support to Ukraine, including for the refugees.