Events 11 may 2000
The new generation of programmes
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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 Alps
- South-western Europe
- North-western Europe
- The North Sea
- 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
regions: Canary Islands, French overseas departments, the Azores and Madeira
of these areas can be consulted at http://ec.europa.eu/regional_policy
Strand C, interregional cooperation, is the successor to the earlier
Recite and Ecos-Ouverture programmes. It supports the creation of networks to
All regions of the Union are eligible for Strand C.
They know all about cooperation
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
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