Programs of cross-border cooperation (Poland-Belarus-Ukraine, Latvia-Lithuania-Belarus) are important for regional cooperation on the local level. In regional projects, the EU allocated to Belarus nearly EUR 53 million between 2007 and 2013, with most projects still operating.
One practical example of bilateral cooperation to foster people-to-people ties is MOST, a mobility program for young professionals.
TAIEX, the Technical Assistance and Information Exchange instrument, is always open for Belarusian public administration agencies interested in studying the best European practices in a wide range of fields.
The largest EU Research and Innovation programme Horizon 2020 is open for the Belarusian academic community, and so is SOCIEUX (Social Protection EU Expertise in Development Cooperation). This instrument is targeted at supporting the efforts of partner countries to better design and manage their social protection systems.
Despite difficulties in bilateral relations, the European Union and Government of Belarus maintain a sectoral dialogue in the spheres of economy, energy, environment and transport. Many sector ministries seek European support and funding.
In December 2015, the National Coordinating Unit for the EU Tacis Programme in Belarus was transformed into the Centre for International Technical Assistance of the European Union (EU ITA Centre). The Centre supports international technical assistance beneficiaries in Belarus and participates in development and implementation of EU programmes.
Programming of international assistance in Belarus is shaped by the National Programme of International Technical Co-operation. The 2012-2016 programmes continues the focus on the national priorities of (1) human development, improvement of level of life, social development and assistance; (2) sustainable economic growth through innovation, international cooperation, investment and resource and energy efficiency; (3) environment protection, ecological sustainability, rehabilitation of Chernobyl affected areas. Accordingly, the EU has defined the following broadly framed and interrelated priorities of development cooperation with Belarus for 2014-2017:
Social inclusion is a priority that can translate into projects directed at prevention of non-communicable diseases, social inclusion of people with disabilities and older persons, development of vocational education, fostering gender equality and empowerment of women, demographic security. At present, the EU is supporting a program to help improve healthcare in Belarus. The program includes a range of measures aimed at reducing alcohol and tobacco consumption and promoting healthy lifestyles, thus helping bring down the number of cases of cardiovascular and respiratory diseases. It will also help improve breast cancer detection and reduce child injury rates. The budget of this program is EUR 8 mln. A new vocational education program will include measures that help bring Belarus' vocational education system into compliance with new economic trends and meet the ever-changing demand of the market and employers. The program is expected to help young professionals find their first jobs more quickly. It is also expected to help Belarus incorporate the principle of lifelong learning into its education system and make sure older citizens adapt and remain in the workforce longer. The EU allocated EUR 11.5 mln for the program.
Environment remains at the core of sustainable development for both the EU and Belarus. The Delegation of the European Union supports projects in the fields of air and water quality assurance and preservation of biodiversity, in waste management, energy efficiency, renewable energy and green economy. The amount of funding in 2012-2020 is expected to reach EUR 37 mln.
- Local and regional economic development
Local and regional economic development remains a key area of cooperation. In the late 2015, the sides began designing a new regional and local development program. Greater emphasis will be placed on supporting the development of the private business sector.