For 30 years, INTERREG's objective has been to promote the harmonious development of the Union's territory at different levels by fostering cross-border cooperation, transnational cooperation, interregional cooperation and, since 2000, cooperation for the outermost regions (ORs). Thanks to the Interreg regulation 2021-2027, the specificities of the Outermost regulations are recognised trough a specific strand (Strand D).
The objective of the specific strand D established for the outermost regions is to allow them to cooperate with their neighbouring countries and territories in the most efficient and simple way. To this end, the Interreg Regulation offers the possibility to manage both external funds and the ERDF under the same set of rules. Consequently, under strand D, calls for proposals can be launched for combined funding by the ERDF, the Neighbourhood Instrument, Development Cooperation and International Cooperation () (NDICI Global Europe - Regulation (EU ) 2021/947 of the European Parliament and of the Council) and the Overseas Territories Association Decision (OAD – Council Decision (EU) 2021/1764 of 5 October 2021) .
Strand D covers cooperation within a defined and generally extended geographical area:
Five cooperation programmes in the outermost regions are representing 3.5% of the INTERREG total amount, with over EUR 280 million EUR as follows:
Owing to the aim of this cooperation which is to facilitate the regional integration of outermost regions in their neighborhood, each project must have a third country (non-EU) as a partner. This obligation is fulfilled by means of two alternative funding mechanisms
One of the novelties for the new programming period provided by the Interreg Regulation consists of offering to outermost regions 3 management methods when combining the contributions from the ERDF and from one or more external financing instruments:
Outermost regions stand for the EU in the areas mentioned above and these cooperation programmes are unique tools that contribute to the objective of the Commission for a “stronger Europe in the world”.
For instance, the “Indian Ocean” Interreg programme participates in the Team Europe Initiatives for Mauritius and the Union of Comoros and the “Caribbean Area” programme has organised the first conference aiming to find common solutions between the countries in the area on the sargassum disaster.
The Madeira-Azores-Canarias (MAC) programme is extending its geographical coverage to four new countries in Africa and so does the Mozambique Channel programme. These programmes will cover all the priorities set out by political cohesion, with a particular emphasis on Green Deal, Mobility and Governance. Due to the need to cooperate more intensively with third countries and OCTs, the Interreg Specific Objective for a “Better Governance” is particularly relevant for strand D programmes.
Outermost regions cooperation programmes count with the achievement of landmark projects such as the Maroni ferry on the French Guyana and Suriname border or the Satellite-based environmental monitoring in the Indian Ocean (project SEAS-OI). These programmes also offer individuals and companies a number of possibilities of exchanges notably in the fields of innovation, research, health, culture, education and training.