New Project to Develop a Form of Cross-Border Economic Development Unique to the Irish Border Region

The Centre for Cross Border Studies (CCBS), in association with the International Centre for Local and Regional Development (ICLRD), launched its exciting new project: ‘Towards a Border Development Zone’ on 24th June 2013.  This project is funded under the EU INTERREG IVA programme managed by the Special EU Programmes body, and will be rolled out as part of the wider Ireland-Northern Ireland Cross-Border Cooperation Observatory (INICCO II) initiative managed by the Centre for Cross Border Studies.

This innovative EU INTERREG funded research and conference project will explore the potential of a joint economic development approach across the whole Irish and Northern Irish cross-border region, from Derry to Dundalk, and from Donegal to Down, including all the towns and counties in between. In doing this it will build on the work of the three existing local authority-based cross-border networks: East Border Region (EBR), Irish Central Border Area Network (ICBAN) and the North West Region Cross Border Group (NWRCBG).

The project will aim to stimulate a form of cross-border economic development that is uniquely adapted to the border region – and to do this in particular by building on the experiences of successful border region firms, and by focusing on the capacity of local authorities in both jurisdictions to promote and lead this process.

The project promoters have this month commissioned five ‘scoping studies’ into aspects of this proposed Border Development Zone: one on the overall strategy and structure that might be adopted, and four on key potential development sectors in the region: SME enterprise with export potential, tourism and recreation, agriculture and food  processing, and low carbon initiatives and renewable energy.

A  project steering group – drawn from CCBS , InterTradeIreland, IBEC-CBI Joint Business Council,  the cross-border networks, local authorities, business leaders  and the ICLRD – will be chaired by Padraic White, former head of IDA Ireland and chair of Louth Economic Forum.

The five studies will be presented to an international conference, jointly hosted by the ICLRD and the Centre for Cross Border Studies, at an Irish border region venue in early 2014. Five ‘implementation groups’ coming out of this conference will plan an application to the 2014-2020 EU INTERREG V programme for funding to begin to carry out a ‘Towards a Border Development Zone’ strategy as developed through this project.

For further information on this initiative, see the Centre for Cross Border Studies website, www.crossborder.ie