Interreg : European Territorial Co-operation

European Territorial Cooperation (ETC), better known as Interreg,  is one of the two goals of cohesion policy and provides a framework for the implementation of joint actions and policy exchanges between national, regional and local actors from different Member States. The overarching objective of European Territorial Cooperation (ETC) is to promote a harmonious economic, social and territorial development of the Union as a whole. Interreg is built around three strands of cooperation: cross-border (Interreg A), transnational (Interreg B) and interregional (Interreg C).
Five programming periods of Interreg have succeeded each other:
 INTERREG I (1990-1993) -  INTERREG II (1994-1999) - INTERREG III (2000-2006) - INTERREG IV (2007-2013) - INTERREG V (2014-2020)

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    Interreg Danube Transnational Programme project 'LENA' has won the German 'Projekt Nachhaltigkeit 2018'/'Sustainability Project 2018' Award. The award is an established quality seal with national recognition in Germany and stands for innovative and effective commitment to sustainable development. It provides access to an attractive, regional and nationwide network, increased public awareness and the opportunity to shape public discourse and gain supporters. 

    LENA - Local Economy and Nature Conservation in the Danube Region is connecting nature and people for well-being and prosperity across seven Danube countries (Bulgaria, Croatia, Hungary, Germany, Romania, Serbia and Slovenia) and 11 protected areas. The project shares know-how and experience for sustainable economic development in protected areas through enhancing, for instance, sustainable income generation from wild plants; fishing-based livelihoods; and regional tourism marketing. 

    From a total of 450 applications, 40 national and two special international winners (LENA is one of them) were announced on 11 July  and will be awarded during the official ceremony on 12 September, in Berlin. 

    More information is available here.

    This ERDF-funded project aims to foster cross-border cooperation in Germany and Denmark in the fields of education, sport, leisure and culture in preparation for the construction of the Fehmarnbelt tunnel.

    The kultKIT project will focus on breaking down language and cultural barriers at the German-Danish border in the Fehmarnbelt region in a bid to promote cross-border cooperation ahead of the construction of the Fehmarnbelt tunnel.

    The new link between Germany and Denmark will comprise an 18-km underwater road and rail connection. Once this is functional, it will be crucial for young people in both countries to get to know their neighbours better and to understand their language and culture. In this way, they should be able to take greater advantage of cross-border opportunities in education, training and employment.

    In preparation, the kultKIT project will bring stakeholders from both sides of the border together to discuss potential challenges for cross-border cooperation. They will also organise activities and share experiences to foster cross-border contacts in athletics, music, chess and more. Furthermore, the ERDF-funded project will provide financial support for cross-border micro-projects in these areas.

    Related links:

    Source article on 12/07/18

    Photo: ©Thinkstock/Wavebreakmedia

    The global financial crisis, which hit Europe in 2008, resulted in intensive, barely controllable labour migration in the Baltic Sea region mainly from eastern to western countries. The eastern countries were suffering from youth unemployment and emigration. The western recipient countries were struggling to employ immigrants properly. Uncertainties regarding wages, taxes, social benefits, and working time often ended in unfair treatment of foreign employees. As a response to these developments, 21 social partners including employers' associations, trade unions, and governments from nine countries around the Baltic Sea established a platform called Baltic Sea Labour Network (BSLN), which was launched as an Interreg project in 2008. This cooperation around the Baltic Sea was an indispensable necessity, as Katariina Röbbelen-Voigt, project manager of the BSLN, explained: "None of the problems could have been solved in only one country". The social partners' challenge was twofold: to make labour mobility smoother and to lower emigration.

    The Baltic Sea Labour Forum has expanded since the end of the project in 2011 as new members joined the organisation. This transnational social dialogue not only helps meet challenges within labour markets around the Baltic Sea, it is also a platform for sharing experiences between different cultures. "In every country the employer and trade union organisations negotiate with  each other about salaries, about working conditions and other things in different ways," says Katariina Röbbelen-Voigt. These differences give a chance to learn from each other and come up with more constructive solutions. By maintaining a transnational social dialogue between politicians, employers’ associations and trade unions, the Baltic Sea Labour Forum originally funded by Interreg continues to foster European integration for a more competitive Europe.

    The full article on the topic is available here:

    Photo © BSLN project


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In 1990, Interreg was developed as a Community Initiative in with a budget of just EUR 1 billion covering exclusively cross-border cooperation. Later, Interreg has been extended to transnational and interregional cooperation. For 2014-2020 European territorial cooperation is one of the two goals of Cohesion Policy besides investment for Growth and Job.

Interreg evolution

The 25th anniversary of Interreg has been celebrated in 2015 with a variety of events around Europe. Over the years, Interreg has become the key instrument of the European Union to support cooperation between partners across borders. The aim: to tackle common challenges together and find shared solutions - whether in the field of health, research and education, transport or sustainable energy.

2014-2020 period – Interreg V

In accordance with the new design of the European Cohesion Policy 2014-2020 and the targets set out in Europe 2020, Interreg has significantly been reshaped to achieve greater impact and an even more effective use of the investments. Key elements of the 2014-2020 reform are:
-Results orientation
The fifth period of Interreg is based on 11 investment priorities laid down in the ERDF Regulation contributing to the delivery of the Europe 2020 strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth. At least, 80% of the budget for each cooperation programme has to concentrate on a maximum of 4 thematic objectives among the eleven EU priorities:

11 priorities

The fifth programming period of Interreg has a budget of EUR 10.1 billion invested in over 100 cooperation programmes between regions and territorial, social and economic partners. This budget also includes the ERDF allocation for Member States to participate in EU external border cooperation programmes supported by other instruments (Instrument for Pre-Accession and European Neighborhood Instrument).

  • 60 Cross-border – Interreg V-A, along 38 internal EU borders. ERDF contribution: EUR 6.6 billion.
  • 15 Transnational – Interreg V-B, covering larger areas of co-operation such as the Baltic Sea, Alpine and Mediterranean regions, as well as some non-EU countries. ERDF contribution: EUR 2.1 billion.
  • The interregional co-operation programme, INTERREG Europe, and 3 networking programmes (Urbact III, Interact III and ESPON) covering all 28 Member States of the EU, as well as Norway and Switzerland and in case of URBACT also Iceland and Lichtenstein. They provide a framework for exchanging experience between regional and local bodies in different countries. ERDF contribution: EUR 500 million.

Interreg Budget

Interreg and inter-regional cooperation 2014-2020: state of play - video recording of the briefing (07/05/2015)

2007-2013 period – Interreg IV

The forth programming period of Interreg had a total budget of EUR 8.7 billion (2, 5 % of the total 2007-13 allocation for cohesion policy). This budget includes the allocation for Member States to participate in EU external border cooperation programmes supported by other instruments (Instrument for Pre-Accession and European Neighborhood Instrument). The budget was distributed as follows:

  • 60 Cross-border – Interreg IV-A, along 38 internal EU borders. ERDF contribution: EUR 5.6 billion.
  • 13 Transnational – Interreg IV-B, covering larger areas of co-operation such as the Baltic Sea, Alpine and Mediterranean regions. ERDF contribution: EUR 1.8 billion.
  • The interregional co-operation programme (INTERREG IVC) and 3 networking programmes (Urbact II, Interact II and ESPON) cover all 28 Member States of the EU. They provide a framework for exchanging experience between regional and local bodies in different countries. ERDF contribution: EUR 445 million.

The European Grouping of Territorial Cooperation

Meetings & Events

Interreg Annual Meeting April 26-28 2017

Interreg Annual Meeting June 6-7 2016

Interreg Annual Meeting September 15 2015

Interreg Annual Meeting May 19-20 2014

European Territorial Cooperation Annual Meeting 2013

Annual meeting of cross-border programmes 2011


European Territorial Cooperation: building bridges between people