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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    Tomorrow, the Commissioner for regional policy Corina Crețu will be in Munich, Germany, to participate in the first annual Alpine macro-regional Strategy Forum alongside Karl-Heinz Lambertz, President of the Committee of the Regions. "This first forum will be an opportunity to make an initial assessment and to renew our commitment to the strategy, to work more closely together, across borders, in this big and beautiful region” stated Commissioner Crețu, "It will also be an opportunity to reflect on the future of our macro-regional strategies after 2020." The Alpine Strategy, which brings together seven countries (France, Germany, Italy, Austria and Slovenia, as well as Liechtenstein and Switzerland) along with 70 million people, aims to further pool resources in the region to address common challenges, such as air pollution, road congestion and to increase trade. These resources include 80 different programmes financed by European Structural and Investment Funds; the aim of the strategy is to ensure the best use of the aforementioned programmes for everyone. 

    The registration for the 1st Annual Forum of the EU Strategy for the Alpine Region (EUSALP) is now open! The event, taking place on 23-24 November 2017 at BMW World in Munich, is jointly organised by Bavaria (current Presidency of the EUSALP) and the European Commission (Directorate-General for Regional and Urban Policy). 

    Stakeholders from the Alpine region will gather to take stock of the progress achieved so far and to define the way ahead. The Forum will showcase the first results of the nine thematic Action Groups and look into the question how to tackle challenges in the region such as climate change, international economic competition, Alpine transit traffic and decreasing biodiversity together. 

    As the event aims at involving civil society, a Citizen's Dialogue and a Youth Parliament will take place back-to-back with the 1st Annual Forum of the EUSALP. 

    The deadline for registration is 21 November 2017. 

    More information, including the programme and practical information, can be found here.

    A Cohesion Policy that includes all regions – the strongest and the weakest – is vital for the success of the European Union.

    Europe's regions are the backbone of the European Union – politically, economically, socially and culturally. Continued strong support for regions after 2020 is therefore vital to Europe’s success. The European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) enable us to create real impetus and increase investment. They ensure that Europe is meaningful and accessible to citizens, encouraging cooperation.

    From an early stage, Bavaria has developed its positions on the ESIF reform that will take place after 2020. Our core concern, which we share with Europe’s other regions, is to preserve a suitable level of the ESIF for all European regions. This is especially the case for the more developed regions such as Bavaria so that their stronger regional excellence continues to benefit their less-well-developed neighbours through increased demand and extra added value. A common European support policy brings Europe together instead of dividing it into ‘donors’ and ‘recipients’.

    There is also more to a strong region like Bavaria than booming towns and cities. In particular, the districts bordering the Czech Republic are part of structurally weaker areas, and therefore priority areas for European Regional Development Fund intervention.

    EU regional policy is so important to us because it directly affects people in Bavaria and in European regions elsewhere. Many projects in Bavaria can only be implemented thanks to EU funds. In contrast to short-term crisis-management mechanisms, the ESIF provides long-term funding throughout the entire funding period, with funds and resources fixed in advance. This enables a high degree of planning and financial security. It also makes it possible to pursue important pan-European objectives that do not necessarily give ‘quick wins’ but instead require longer-term political staying power. The long-term, sustainable, grant-based ESIF should not be replaced by selective, short-term funding instruments; instead, its strategic, shared, results-oriented project funding structure should be maintained.

    "Build bridges not walls" must be Europe’s motto after 2020. All sides should work together without creating unnecessary divisions. This requires even stronger cross-border cooperation. The Interreg programmes have made an indisputable contribution to Europe’s integration. Working with neighbours clearly demonstrates to local people the added value of a stable Europe – the border areas of the past have become the meeting places of the future.

    New policy approaches, such as macro-regional strategies, should also be strengthened and further synergies created in transnational EU programmes. As the presiding president of the EU Alpine Strategy (EUSALP), Bavaria is committed to strengthening EU macro-regional strategies after 2020. It is also strongly committed to limiting the bureaucratic burden in funding policy, thereby strengthening self-reliance while ensuring that regional aid maintains its added value.

    European Cohesion Policy is a genuine expression of European solidarity – the stronger parties support the weaker ones. Bavaria understands and values this. It has itself experienced solidarity from others on its journey from agricultural state to land of innovation. Today, Bavarian companies collaborate with partners across Europe. A strategic European regional policy therefore has all European regions within its scope, including the more developed ones. This is the only way we can strengthen social and regional cohesion within and between Member States, while supporting the economic success of all regions. Where we succeed in doing this, and where local people experience concrete successes from European cooperation, citizens will enjoy new-found confidence in the EU.


    Minister of State for European affairs and regional relations of Bavaria

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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).

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