BusDev - Business Development Opportunities at External EU Borders


In 2017 European Commission published a special communication to the Council and the European Parliament “Boosting growth and cohesion in EU border regions” which summarized 2 years of work and dialogue on finding ways to enhance the competitive and cohesive situation of border regions along EU’s internal borders. Less attention so far has been paid to border regions at the external EU borders, with analysis mostly reduced to security aspects.

This ESPON targeted analysis will look at the border regions at the EU external border from broader perspective by addressing challenges and opportunities for development of entrepreneurship in the cross-border areas. By involving three cross-border pilot regions – in Latvia and Lithuania bordering Belarus and Russia, and Romania bordering Moldova – the study will seek answers on how closeness to the EU external border can be an asset to socio-economic and regional development. More specifically, the research will look into policies and support mechanisms which are required to stimulate business development and cohesion of these and similar remote areas, decreasing their segregation.

The targeted analysis will primarily focus on the territories of the project stakeholders:

  1. The Latgale planning region in Latvia.
  2. Eight municipalities in Lithuania which are members of the Euroregion “Country of Lakes”.
  3. Four counties in Romania which are participating in the Joint Operational Programme Romania-Republic of Moldova through the European Neighbourhood Instrument.

These regions are characterised by relatively slow economic development despite different interventions of the European Structural funds, low level of competitiveness, lack of a truly diverse economy, low level of investments in research and development and limited accessibility due to poor quality of the transport infrastructure.

Stakeholders’ knowledge needs:

  • What are the main challenges faced by the local businesses in the cross-border areas at the EU external border?
  • Why the existing policies and business support mechanisms have not been efficient in delivering the expected socio-economic development results? What has worked and what has failed?
  • What are the development perspectives and added value that closeness to the EU external border can provide in terms of attracting investments and conquering new markets thus stimulating socio-economic development?
  • What policies need to support these processes taking into account the socio-economic and geopolitical circumstances?
  • What concrete support mechanisms need to be developed that could stimulate entrepreneurs to develop their businesses in the cross-border areas by using this specific location and other conditions as an asset? What concrete actions this would imply?
  • What kind of cross-border cooperation among the EU countries and the neighbouring countries across the EU border could stimulate development of entrepreneurship on the external borders of the European Union?
  • What kind and what level of business knowledge local entrepreneurs have? How to increase the knowledge of local entrepreneurs about business related topics, especially trade near by the border area.

 Main outcomes

  • Analysis of the existing business environments at the EU external border in the project stakeholder territories, indicating main challenges and opportunities;
  • Assessment of territorial effects of existing policies and business support mechanisms in the project stakeholder territories;
  • A framework for common territorial strategies at EU external borders, pointing out how the opportunities of being close to the EU external borders can help attract investments and improve economic development;
  • Recommendations on what concrete policies and support mechanisms need to be established, with proposals for the necessary financial interventions and activities that could be funded by the EU funds, including those supporting territorial and cross-border cooperation.


  • Latgale Planning Region (Lead Stakeholder), LV
  • Ministry of Environmental Protection and Regional Development, LV
  • Euroregion “Country of Lakes”, LT
  • Regional Office for Cross Border Cooperation Romania – Republic of Moldova (BRCT Iași), RO
  • Association of European Border Regions (AEBR)


  • Spatial Foresight: LU (lead contractor)
  • BGI Consulting, LT
  • LIDEEA Development Actions, RO 


€ 245 300


December 2019 – January 2021


  • Inception delivery, 23 January 2020
  • Interim delivery, 13 July 2020
  • Final delivery, 14 December 2020

Contact: Zintis Hermansons (Project Expert), [email protected] ; Johannes Kiersch (Financial Expert),  [email protected]



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