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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    The closing conference of the EU-Canada component of the EU's highly successful World Cities cooperation project was held in Ottawa on Friday 20 June 2016. The project, which originates in a proposal of the European Parliament, provides for the pairing of city authorities and actors in Europe with their counterparts in, respectively, China, India, Canada and Japan, with the aim of encouraging exchanges of experience and best practice, and the development of joint projects. Participating in the Ottawa event were the Canadian cities of Saanich, Edmonton, Ottawa and Halifax and their EU counterparts, respectively, Almada (PT), Vitoria-Gasteiz (ES), Hannover (DE) and Tallinn (EE).

    In his keynote address to the conference, Ronnie Hall, chief advisor in the Directorate General for Regional and Urban Policy said that urbanization was a global challenge. He drew attention to the role of urban development as a central pillar of the EU's cohesion policy programmes for 2014-2020. "We have put in place a battery of actions to advance the urban agenda in Europe, and our cities have responded enthusiastically. More of the EU's resources will be directly managed by the cities than ever before. The cities also have new opportunities to experiment and to link up with European counterparts. We are in the process of creating a fund of experience which will also contribute to our international relations with cities outside the EU", he said.

    The conference was informed of the progress made under the different pairings between the EU and Canadian cities, respectively. The broad reference themes for each pairing were the same: resilience and adaptation, ecosystems services and low carbon development. The cities then defined concrete opportunities for cooperation within these themes according to specific needs and experience.

    For Ottawa/Hannover, the two cities have chosen to consolidate their cooperation through a Memorandum of Understanding which was signed by the Mayor of Ottawa, Jim Watson, at City Hall on 19 May 2016 (having been signed earlier by the Mayor of Hannover, Stefan Schostok).

    For Saanich/Almada, a particularly interesting development was the establishment of the Almada Local Climate Platform (PLAC), launched in April 2016. It will seek to engage the local community in efforts to achieve the goal of an 80% reduction in GHG emissions by 2050 in accordance with the Paris Local Leaders Declaration under the Paris Climate Conference (COP 21) at the end of 2015. The operations under PLAC foresee the possibility to involve outside specialist advisers and Almada has formally offered such a role to Saanich, an offer which has been accepted. For Vitoria Gasteiz/Edmonton, the cooperation has resulted in a long list of projects and policy fields where each will seek to benefit from the advice of the other. Such is the intensity of the planned cooperation that the two sides expect to sign a letter of agreement in the coming weeks. In this way, the impact of the World Cities will stretch beyond the project itself.

    Mr Hall concluded his keynote speech by referring to future prospects for EU-Canada cooperation. He said, "We are at present preparing a World Cities follow-up project to be implemented from this year onwards which will be a larger, more ambitious International Urban Cooperation Programme bringing together city and regional actors, including the private sector. It will include a specific component for EU-North America exchanges, and will build on the very concrete, project-centred approach that we have developed together over recent years".

    On 17 June, Professor Kevin Morgan, Cardiff University and Special Adviser to Commissioner Creţu, will deliver a lecture on " The Public Animateur: Place-based innovation and the Smart State"

    The lecture will involve a 45 minute presentation from Prof. Morgan, followed by a response from Dr. Michaela Trippl, University of Lund, followed by questions from the audience. The lecture will take place at the premises of the Directorate-General for Regional and Urban Policy (DG REGIO) on 17 June 2016 from 16:00 to 18:00.

    Academics, staff from DG REGIO and other Commission services, other EU institutions as well as from the Member States' representations and regional offices are welcome to participate!

    This is the fifth of a series of academic lectures organized by DG REGIO in cooperation with European Regional Science Association (ERSA) on key issues in regional and urban policy. The purpose of this lecture series is to make available to a broad range of policymakers important research in the context of the preparation for post-2020 EU Cohesion Policy proposals.

    See the videos of the previous lectures on the dedicated Inforegio webpage.

    More information on registrations and on the upcoming lecture series

    In September 2015 the Commission launched the Cross-border Review, to study the obstacles that people in the border regions are still facing. Part of this review was an EU-wide public consultation, for which the results are unveiled today.

    Not only did respondents clearly identify remaining cross-border issues, but they were also asked to put forward concrete ideas on how to overcome them, which are compiled in this report.

    They mention five main obstacles:

    1. legal and administrative barriers (lack of recognition of qualifications, differences in social security, pension and taxation systems),
    2. language barriers,
    3. difficult physical access (lack of infrastructures and of integrated public transport systems),
    4. lack of cooperation between public authorities on cross-border issues, and
    5. economic disparities (differences in the labour market and wages, creating asymmetric flows).

    More than €10 billion from ESI Funds will be invested in fostering cross-border cooperation over 2014-2020.

    More Information

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Introduction

Interreg 25 Years25 years ago this year, 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 near   investment for Growth and Job. The 25th anniversary of Interreg is being celebrated this year with a variety of events around Europe culminating in a ceremony on European Cooperation Day in Luxembourg on 15-16 September. 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.

Interreg evolution

Interreg programmes are funded by the European Regional Development Fund to support the harmonious development of the European Union's territory at different levels. Interreg has three types of programmes: cross-border, transnational and interregional.

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:
-Concentration
-Simplification
-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).

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 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

Publications

European Territorial Cooperation: building bridges between people