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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    An ERDF-funded project organised an extensive emergency flood simulation exercise in the Austria-Italy border region of East and South Tyrol. All local relevant civil defence organisations took part.

    The exercise was part of the ERDF-funded Interreg Italy-Austria project ‘Cross-border Civil Protection East Tyrol-South Tyrol’ which set out to test cross-border communication and cooperation in the case of an emergency in the region.

    Various flood, destructive water flow and other hazard scenarios were simulated on both the South and East Tyrolean sides of the border. On the South side, the exercise focused on communication between operation centres. On the Sillian slopes in the East, a search-and-rescue operation for injured victims was simulated.

    Over 150 people took part in the exercise, including members from both the South and East Tyrol mountain rescue teams, including the dog squadron, the White Cross, the Red Cross, volunteer fire brigades, the Austrian Armed Forces, the police, the road service, the Forestry Department and the South Tyrolean Medical Service, among others.

    The exercise aimed to improve the exchange of information and experiences, the understanding of civil protection and effective cross-border communication among those taking part.

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    Source article on 09/11/18

    Author: lpa/stol

    Photo: © Thinkstock/johannes86

    On December 4, 2018, the European Commission is organising a big event to address healthcare cooperation topics in border regions.

    This ground-breaking event showcases the latest mapping study on successful cross-border health cooperation and its handy toolkit for practitioners keen to set up their own joint projects. Through panel discussions, interactive workshops and networking opportunities, healthcare professionals, patient-care groups, policy-makers, cooperation experts and other stakeholders will brainstorm how cross-border cooperation on health can be further developed throughout the Union.

    Hosted at the Centre Borschette in Brussels, this compact one-day event features respected names in health and cross-border cooperation, including high-level representatives of European and cross-border institutions and senior experts on health systems and policies.

    "Health transcends territory" is one of European citizens’ main concerns and border regions are on the frontline to develop concrete solutions for an improved access to good quality healthcare. This is the spirit and the driving force behind the Enhancing Healthcare Cooperation in Cross-border Regions Conference.

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    Following the European Commission's communication ‘Boosting growth and cohesion in EU border regions’, the DG for Regional and Urban Policy launched a pilot project to test new ways of collecting data for cross-border cooperation areas. Eight statistical institutes participated in this project led by Statistics Netherlands.

    The report presents the findings of the project, which focused on labour market indicators. Three types of data have been reviewed: the labour force survey (LFS) data, data extracted from national administrative sources and mobile phone data.

    Using the Labour Force Survey, it is not feasible to produce all indicators for individual NUTS3 border regions, but these can be produced for groups of NUTS-3 border regions. In addition, combing labour force survey with other datasets and small-area estimations could help to improve the availability of data for individual NUTS-3 regions.

    National administrative sources are shown to be quite successful sources of information. They can quantify and characterise cross-border workers and foreign citizens living in border regions. The test case revealed the significant potential of administrative sources to capture cross-border employment.

    Finally, mobile phone data can be used to measure and characterise people moving across the border. These first results are very promising, but data access remains problematic and further methodology development is needed.

    Report "Border Region Data collection"


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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 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 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