European Cross-Border cooperation, known as Interreg A, supports cooperation between NUTS III regions from at least two different Member States lying directly on the borders or adjacent to them. It aims to tackle common challenges identified jointly in the border regions and to exploit the untapped growth potential in border areas, while enhancing the cooperation process for the purposes of the overall harmonious development of the Union.
37.5% of the EU population lives in border areas, along some 38 internal borders made up of geographic, linguistic barriers often bearing the scars of European wars. First developed as a Community initiative in 1990, Interreg was reorganised as a formal "objective" of European Cohesion Policy in 2000.
European Cross-Border cooperation, known as Interreg A, supports cooperation between NUTS III regions from at least two Member States lying directly on the borders or adjacent to them. This aims to tackle common challenges identified jointly in border regions and to exploit the untapped growth potential in border areas, while enhancing the cooperation process with a view to strengthening the overall harmonious development of the Union.
Cross-border cooperation programmes support NUTS III regions laying directly on the borders, or adjacent to them. They are managed by joint structures, situated in one of the countries, responsible for the whole programme.
In some border areas, cooperation still had to heal the scars of history and turn recent ‘enemies’ into ‘neighbours’ to foster sustainable trust along many borders, as a stepping stone towards more mature stages of cooperation ranging from tackling common handicaps – especially risk prevention and emergency response activities- to more integrated cooperation approaches aiming at exploiting together untapped potential to boost economic development in often peripheral regions.
In particular, the more integrated stages of Cross-border cooperation contribute to a harmonious territorial development by retaining brains in the border areas that would otherwise migrate to the economic and service-wise more attractive national centers. This is achieved by enhancing the quality of life in the often peripheral border regions, notably via investments in:
With a budget of 6.7 billion EUR, the 73 cross-border Co-operation programmes for 2021-2027 aim to boost cooperation actions across borders between neighbouring regions and countries. These cross-border programmes are made up of 49 internal programmes, 24 external (10 IPA and 14 NEXT) and the PEACE + programme.
The concept of ‘embedding’, which has been developed for the 2021-2027 programming period also ensures that there is much closer coordination between mainstream and interreg programmes. This broadens the scope of mainstream regional and interreg programmes to co-ordinate actions in terms of a cross-border dimension.
|EUR 6.6 billion||56 programmes|
|EUR 6.7 billion||73 programmes|
There are 56 cooperation programmes for the period 2014-2020 with an allocation of EUR 6.6 billion. These programmes are involved in a wide variety of activities which have a direct impact on cross-border cooperation.
The 2014-2020 period requires each of the programmes to be more focused in terms of results and priorities, in line with the reformed EU Cohesion Policy. This has ensured maximum impact and even more effective use of the investments.
For the first time in 2015 a specific Eurobarometer survey on border regions has been run. The goal was to measure attitudes of population in the EU border regions about EU funding, neighbouring population and all many other information useful to design more targeted EU interventions in the future. More than 40 thousands people were interviewed. Flash Eurobarometer 422 Cross-border Cooperation in the EU.
The survey on border regions was be repeated in 2020: EU Cross-border cooperation survey (2020)
For the last 25 years, the European Union has been investing in cross-border cooperation through Interreg, a financing instrument for regional development across borders. Although much progress has been made, difficulties remain in many areas, such as:
Although Interreg has been an important part in alleviating border obstacles and enhancing a spirit of cooperation, Interreg funding is not the only answer. Many of these obstacles call for changes in laws and/or administrative procedures.
The European Commission's Directorate-General for Regional and Urban Policy (DG REGIO) therefore wants to examine what obstacles remain and how they affect people, organisations, businesses and public authorities in border regions. This analysis could in the future be used to assess whether the Commission can take further action, either on its own initiative or together with national and regional authorities.
To know more about the Cross Border Review and its various steps, please consult the dedicated webpage
Cross-border projects are supported in Europe's regions - in EU Members and non-Member States alike. Most of these have been centred around the EU's internal borders and the citizens who live there. Relatively small in budget, the projects have many concrete outcomes: removing barriers to better security, transport, education, energy, health care, training and job creation.