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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News

    Today the European Commission adopted the first ever single report on the implementation of the four existing European Union (EU) macro-regional strategies: the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region, the EU Strategy for the Danube Region, the EU Strategy for the Adriatic and Ionian Region and the EU Strategy for the Alpine Region

    The report provides an assessment of the state of implementation of the current strategies and takes stock of the main results achieved to date. It draws lessons from the experience gained so far and presents a number of recommendations on possible developments of the strategies and their action plans, also in the light of the future cohesion policy. 

    Common cross-cutting issues relevant for all four strategies are addressed in the report, regardless of their degree of maturity (e.g. policy making and planning, governance, monitoring and evaluation, funding and communication). Key results and challenges for each macro-regional strategy are presented in specific sections. 

    Overall the implementation of the four EU macro-regional strategies, covering 19 EU Member States and 8 non-EU countries, has generated stronger interest in and awareness of the European territorial cooperation and territorial cohesion and its added value. They have led to increased coordination and strengthened cooperation in certain areas (e.g. navigability, energy, climate change) and between countries concerned, as well as intensified cooperation with non-EU countries, bringing them closer to the EU. Strategies have also contributed to shaping policy, implementation of existing legislation and a deeper dialogue between different actors. 

    However, the strategies have not shown yet their full potential and certain challenges still need to be overcome. Greater ownership and responsibility need to be retained by Member States who initiated the strategies; effectiveness of governance systems needs to be improved; relevant existing funding sources (EU, regional, national) need to be better coordinated. The report also underlines the importance of administrative resources and capacity to deliver the set objectives. 

    Certain questions are raised in the light of future cohesion policy. These are, in particular, concerning synergies and complementarities between EU macro-regional strategies and programmes supported by the European Structural and Investment Funds, as well as alignment of strategies with Interreg transnational programmes and further improvement of governance system. 

    The report is accompanied by a Commission Staff Working Document which provides more detailed information concerning the state of implementation of each macro-regional strategy, as well as specific recommendations. 

    The report provides a comprehensive understanding on how the four EU macro-regional strategies work by including concrete examples implemented in the respective areas. Each of these has specific added-value, such:

    • the quality of the Baltic Sea water is improving and nutrient inflows are being reduced through implementation of projects like PRESTO or Interactive water management (IWAMA);
    • innovative and sustainable use of marine resources and cooperation between relevant actors and initiatives in the Baltic Sea region in this field is being further actively promoted by the SUBMARINER Network;
    • in the Danube river basin, the coordinated management of water and risk management though projects like SEERISK reduces considerably the risk of damage by floods;
    • bottlenecks to navigability of the Danube are being removed and security of navigation improved though projects like FAIRWAY and DARIF;
    • cooperation with EU countries on concrete issues of common interest within the EU Strategy for Adriatic and Ionian Region helps Western Balkan participating countries paving their way towards the EU accession;
    • aiming at a sustainable economic growth respectful of the environment, green/blue corridors linking land and sea in the Adriatic and Ionian Sea have been identified as a key area where strategic projects should be promoted;
    • establishing a cross-border educational space for dual vocational training in the Alpine region is addressed through projects like ‘mountErasmus’;
    • cross-border connectivity in the Alpine region is improved with regard to passenger transport by developing ‘AlpInfoNet’ into a cross-border travel information system. 

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    Two more opportunities are available for Europe's youth to be proactive and contribute to societies across the continent. The European Commission launched the European Solidarity Corps. If willing to gain invaluable experience and acquire valuable skills, young people between 18 and 30 can sign up for this fresh opportunity. Applicants will have the chance to make a difference by working in education, health, social integration, assistance in the provision of food, shelter construction, reception, support and integration of migrants and refugees, environmental protection or prevention of natural disasters. The Commission hopes that in the next 4 years as many as 100 thousand young people will join the European Solidarity Corps. Already a few thousand have applied since the launch date.

    Providing the youth with more opportunities is of capital importance for them and implicitly for the development of Europe. Regional Policy has been a major provider of funding for youth-focused projects and most recently it is set to allocate 1 million euro to allow young Europeans to volunteer in an Interreg cross-border, transnational or interregional programme. This will give the chance to fresh-minded Europeans to gain first hand work experience at the heart of European cooperation. Managed by DG Regional and Urban Policy the volunteering programme will foster a greater sense of European belonging, citizenship and solidarity among hundreds of young Europeans.

    These programmes are a statement for the concern showed for the fate of young people across Europe. Initiatives such as these are paramount to keeping the youth involved in the development of their societies and connected to the future of Europe. And, as in the words of European Commissioner Corina Creţu, it is an opportunity to "further advance the European project".

    European Solidarity Corps

    "the Great Regional Awakening: New Directions" is the title of the annual conference that the Regional Studies Association will organise in Dublin from 4th to 7th June 2017.

    There is a growing realisation that regional inequalities have both contributed to, and amplified, the ‘Great Recession’ that shook advanced and emerging economies alike. It is also becoming apparent that the crisis has been having very different impacts spatially. This will only help to further exacerbate uneven economic development, fuelling more trouble down the line. In Europe, major economic fault-lines are re-emerging between and within national economies; between the core and the periphery; between urban and rural areas; between city-regions and within cities themselves. This pattern is replicated elsewhere - in advanced, emerging and developing world. There is an urgent need to re-examine all aspects of local and regional development and how it relates to national and international economic dynamics; and to social, political, cultural, technological and environmental processes. Having spent over 50 years advocating more balanced regional development, the Regional Studies Association is now spearheading a major effort to address these pressing issues in such challenging times.

    Academics, researchers, students and those working in policy and practice are invited to submit their proposals for papers by 24th February.

    the Great Regional Awakening: New Directions

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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 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

Publications

European Territorial Cooperation: building bridges between people