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Panorama Inforegio

The quarterly magazine of the actors of regional development

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Events 11 may 2000

The new generation of programmes is launched

On 11 May 2000 the headquarters of the central Italian regions in Brussels hosted the launch of the new Community Initiative Interreg III (cross-border, transnational and interregional cooperation). At the launch, Michel Barnier, the Commissioner responsible for regional policy, gave the regional representatives an insight into the initiative, which is entirely financed by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

The purpose of Interreg III is to encourage the Union's harmonious, balanced and sustainable development. In short, it pursues an aim common to much structural assistance: to increase economic and social cohesion within the current EUR-15 and within a future enlarged Union.

Map Europa

Interreg: cooperation across national and regional borders

Borders can still be a barrier to regional development. They separate people who often do not speak the same language and operate under different administrative systems. By being literally on the sidelines, moreover, border areas do not always get the expected attention from the central administrations.

For 2000-06, Interreg III will have a budget of EUR 4.875 billion. By focusing on three major themes: cross-border, transnational and interregional cooperation, Interreg III will shift partnership up a gear and encourage decentralisation. The involvement of local actors and of the regional and local authorities must be clearly set out in the proposals that Member States have to submit to the European Commission by November 2000. To be fully effective, the initiative requires the regions concerned to establish genuinely cross-border or transregional programmes, sharing one and the same funding and administrative structures.

Interreg can also facilitate the process of European Union enlargement. Applicant countries are broadly involved in this Initiative, which has been encouraging cooperation with non-member countries for the last 10 years. To make it even more effective, much effort has recently gone into coordinating Interreg more closely with the aid granted to the applicant countries through the Phare, Tacis and Meda programmes.

Interreg III : A-B-C

Interreg III carries on from the measures started by Interreg II (cross-border and transnational cooperation) and extends them to include interregional cooperation. This extension was necessary in view of enlargement and the increasing demands for decentralisation.

Strand A, cross-border cooperation, aims to transform regions located on either side of an internal or external border of the Union into real economic and social poles. To qualify for Interreg funding, the areas in question have to draw up and implement their development projects jointly.

This strand mainly involves areas bordering the Union's internal and external frontiers, and certain coastal areas.

Strand B involves transnational cooperation. It will also pursue the objectives of Interreg IIC and the Terra initiative, among other things, and will strive to create broad regional groupings adopting a common approach to their development.

The areas eligible under Interreg IIIB are as follows:

  • The Western Mediterranean
  • The Alps
  • South-western Europe
  • North-western Europe
  • The North Sea
  • The Baltic
  • The Atlantic area
  • The Northern periphery
  • Central Europe, the Adriatic, the Danube and south-eastern Europe
  • "Archimed": all of Greece, Sicily, Calabria, Apulia and Basilicata
  • Outermost regions: Canary Islands, French overseas departments, the Azores and Madeira

Maps of these areas can be consulted at

Strand C, interregional cooperation, is the successor to the earlier Recite and Ecos-Ouverture programmes. It supports the creation of networks to encourage development.
All regions of the Union are eligible for Strand C.

They know all about cooperation

Euroregional media (Belgium, Germany, Netherlands)

Five media houses have decided to work together to increase local awareness of the Meuse-Rhine Euregio among its inhabitants. With one media house located in each of the 5 partner regions, they participate in a broad programme of information exchange. A Euroregional media centre was created in 1996 and is based at the public television station for Belgium's German-speaking Community. Three people collect, process and disseminate the information. The centre also arranges for the information to be translated and adapted in line with each television station's needs. Five public television channels are currently taking part in the project; private partners are also showing an interest....

Italy on-line with Greece

The Italian region of Apulia, Western Greece, Epirus and the Ionian islands are engaged in a project to set up data communication centres encouraging the development of SMEs. To this end, the centres will offer various on-line services: technology consultation, distance learning and e-commerce. Two centres will commence operations shortly. The first will cover the regions of Patras and Igoumenitsa in Greece, the second those of Bari and Brindisi in Italy.


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