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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    The European Commission has approved the reallocation of more than €660 million in cohesion funds to address the effects of the coronavirus crisis through the modifications of two regional operational programmes (OPs) in Lombardy and Sicily in Italy.

    Commissioner for Cohesion and Reforms, Elisa Ferreira said, “I am glad to approve these programme modifications for Italy, one of the most affected countries by the pandemic. The Coronavirus Response Investment Initiative is delivering concrete positive results helping Italy and other EU Member States to overcome the crisis.”

    Lombardy will thus have the opportunity to strengthen its health services with over €193 million and the resilience of its SMEs by providing €10 million of working capital.

    The amended operational programme of Sicily will provide €4.3 million in support to the health sector, up to €320 million in liquidity to SMEs, €75 million to support the tourism sector and €60 million for improvements in schools and higher education institutes.

    The modifications of these OPs will also increase temporarily the co-financing rate to 100% for eligible actions, thus helping beneficiaries overcome liquidity scarcity in the implementation of their projects.

    Modifying the programmes is possible thanks to the exceptional flexibility provided under the Coronavirus Response Investment Initiative (CRII) and Coronavirus Response Investment Initiative Plus (CRII+), which allows Member States to use Cohesion policy funding to support the sectors most exposed sectors to the pandemic.

    Commission and external experts assisted the authorities of Bulgaria, Croatia and Slovenia to better target investments in order to make their respective health sectors more efficient and resilient in the future. The results of the joint project, initiated and financed by the Commission, were presented today during the closing hybrid event, taking place contemporarily in Ljubljana, Sofia, Zagreb and Brussels. The three countries together have participated in the process of elaborating a methodology for mapping infrastructure, human resources, existing capacities, present and future needs in the area of emergency and long-term care. This allows them to prepare their strategies and plan future investments, supported by cohesion policy funding, but also other instruments like the Resilience and Reform Facility or national budgets. The important work done under the guidance of the public health expert Dr. Aleksandar Džakula will also contribute to strengthening the health sector, taking into account the lessons learned from the coronavirus pandemic.

    Commissioner for Cohesion and Reforms Elisa Ferreira said: “The current emergency has once again confirmed that having efficient and accessible healthcare is fundamental for the welfare of our citizens and the resilience of our societies. Cohesion policy will continue investing in strengthening health sectors in the Member States as a key asset in tackling social and territorial disparities. I am glad that his initiative will help Bulgaria, Croatia and Slovenia prepare better, more forward-looking and sustainable investments." 

    The Minister of Health of Slovenia, Dr. Tomaž Gantar, said: “While preparing for the next programming period, we see certain areas in which we must invest in the future, in order to ensure efficiency, effectiveness and resilience of healthcare and long-term care system in Slovenia. These areas are renovation and modernization of infrastructure, buildings and equipment in order to optimize service delivery and improve efficiency; further we must ensure high and stable level of patient safety and quality in the future; take further steps in digitalization of our health care system, invest in health promotion and disease prevention. We must continue strengthening primary health care. We also need to work on capacity building of health workforce in the direction of integrated care and to respond to inequalities in health by addressing in particular vulnerable groups and we need to work on multidisciplinary teams and better cooperation between different levels and professionals. These are all development opportunities, as we see it.


    EU cohesion policy is investing important resources in a number of different areas such as Europe’s ageing population, healthcare infrastructure and sustainable systems, adequate skills, e-health, health coverage and quality, and health promotion programmes. In order to ensure sustainable and efficient investments in the next long-term EU budget 2021-2027, national and regional authorities need to develop long-term investment strategies, which take an integrated approach when analysing the investment needs for infrastructure, equipment, skills, innovative technologies and new care models. Member States wanting to invest in health care with cohesion policy funding have to base this on a thorough mapping of their needs, including primary and long-term care, with the aim of making public health care more resilient, cost-effective and accessible to all.

    The closing event was organised in a hybrid way, with a live conference in Ljubljana as online participation. During the first day the participating teams of experts, the European Commission and public authorities from the different member states participated in a final workshop with the expert Dr. Džakula and shared their experience. The second day was an occasion for the European Commission to reiterate the importance of well-planned health system investments for the upcoming programming period and share the lessons learnt from the project with a wider audience.

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    An ERDF-funded project is helping micro and small companies in the Swiss-Italian diary industry make products that are more competitive internationally, while seeking to improve the supply chain.

    The project is being implemented in the Aosta Valley, Italy, and the Canton of Valais in Switzerland.

    Work will involve analysing the existing regulatory framework, management methods and processing technologies, products and by-products, and the supply chain.

    Next, companies in the cross-border area will receive scientific and technical support to improve their processes and logistics. One aim is to find ways of consolidating shipments and better matching supply and demand. This could reduce transport costs, congestion, noise and air pollution and accidents.

    Companies in the dairy, agri-food or logistics sectors can volunteer to test and develop solutions, including use of next-generation internet technologies.

    The ERDF is providing funding of EUR 1 273 998, out of a total budget of EUR 1 533 599 for Italy and CHF 740 000 (EUR 685 000) for Switzerland.

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    Source article on on 02/09/2020


    Photo: © iStock/branex

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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).

  • 60 Cross-border – Interreg V-A, along 38 internal EU borders. ERDF contribution: EUR 6.6 billion.
  • 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 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 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 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 May 22-23 2019

Interreg Annual Meeting June 18-19 2018

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