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)
- Investing in all regions: Regions still lagging behind in terms of growth or income – mostly located in the South and East of Europe – will keep benefiting from important EU support. Cohesion Policy will continue investing in all regions, as many of them across Europe – including in richer Member States – struggle to achieve industrial transition, fight unemployment and hold their own in a globalised economy;
- A tailored approach: Cohesion Policy keeps 3 categories of regions: less-developed, transition and more developed regions. To reduce disparities and help low-income and low-growth regions catch up, GDP per capita remains the predominant criterion for allocating funds. In addition, new criteria aim at better reflecting the reality on the ground – youth unemployment, low education level, climate change and the reception and integration of migrants.
- Locally-led: The 2021-2027 Cohesion Policy stands for a Europe that empowers, by supporting locally-led development strategies. Local, urban and territorial authorities will be more involved in the management of EU funds, while increased co-financing rates will improve ownership of EU-funded projects in regions and cities.
- Simplifying access to funds: The Commission proposes to make the rules less complex in the next long-term EU budget, with less red tape and lighter control procedures for businesses and entrepreneurs benefiting from EU support;
- A single rulebook: One set of rules now cover 7 EU funds implemented in partnership with Member States ('shared management'), which will make life easier for EU funds programme managers. It will also facilitate synergies, for example between Cohesion Policy funds and the Asylum and Migration Fund when it comes to the development of local integration strategies for migrants. The framework also allows for more efficient links with other funds from the EU budget toolbox; for example Member States can choose to transfer some of their Cohesion Policy resources to the InvestEU programme.
- Adapting to needs: The new framework also combines the stability necessary for long-term investment planning with the right level of flexibility in order to cope with unforeseen events. A mid-term review will determine if changes in the programmes are needed for the last 2 years of the funding period, and limited transfers of resources within EU funds programmes will be possible.
Live webstreaming: Interreg Annual Meeting 2018
The Interreg Annual Meeting 2018 will take place from 18 to 19 June in Brussels and is organized by the European Commission, Directorate-General for Regional and Urban Policy.
In accordance with Article 51 of Regulation (EU) No 1303/2013, the meeting is one of the annual opportunities to review programme implementation. It also aims to discuss with the Managing Authorities and the Joint Secretariats of all the Interreg programmes the most topical issues related to implementation.
This year, the meeting takes place right after the European Commission has presented its post 2020 proposals for Interreg. The meeting agenda has been designed to allow discussions on the future legal framework of Interreg programmes.
The meeting will start in the afternoon of 18 June. The opening plenary session will highlight the state of play of implementation of Interreg programmes and will be followed by three parallel workshops related to current implementation.
The morning session of 19 June will be the opportunity to discuss the post-2020 proposals. This will be followed by a choice of visits among three different options in Brussels, Tournai and Liège.
Regional Development and Cohesion Policy 2021-2027
For the next long-term EU budget 2021-2027, the Commission proposes to modernise Cohesion Policy, the EU's main investment policy and one of its most concrete expressions of solidarity.
The main features of the Commission's proposal for a modernised Cohesion Policy are:
1. A focus on key investment priorities, where the EU is best placed to deliver: The bulk of European Regional Development Fund and Cohesion Fund investments will go towards innovation, support to small businesses, digital technologies and industrial modernisation. It will also go to the shift towards a low-carbon, circular economy and the fight against climate change, delivering on the Paris Agreement.
2. A Cohesion Policy for all regions and a more tailored approach to regional development:
3. Fewer, clearer, shorter rules and a more flexible framework:
4. A strengthened link with the European Semester to improve the investment environment in Europe: The Commission proposes to strengthen the link between Cohesion Policy and the European Semester, to create a growth- and business-friendly environment in Europe, so that both EU and national investments can deliver their full potential. This stronger Cohesion Policy support to structural reforms will ensure full complementarity and coordination with the new, enhanced Reform Support Programme.
Report: Comprehensive analysis of the existing cross-border rail transport connections and missing links on the internal EU borders
The study includes a thorough inventory of 365 cross-border rail links which are under exploited or not exploited at all, many being abandoned lines. In total 176 missing and promising links along 43 EU and EFTA internal land borders have been recorded. Missing links represent an obvious obstacle and burden in European cross-border regions.
A pan-European demand estimation of rail travel potential was carried out for all these links. Following stakeholder consultation and taking into account the opinion of competent authorities, 48 cross-border rail connections were assessed as “potentially most beneficial projects”.
The study presents its key findings and proposes recommendations on how to smoothen the implementation of new cross-border railway connections. With the cooperation of European, national and regional stakeholders, competent authorities and infrastructure managers of many today’s missing railway links may see new passenger services in the future, contributing to the functioning of prospering and integrated European cross-border regions.
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.
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:
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:
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.
- 12 IPA Cross-border: Instrument for Pre-Accession and European Neighborhood Instrument
- 16 ENI Cross-border :International Cooperation and Development
- 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 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.