What is Interreg Europe?
Interreg Europe is a European Union funding programme that promotes regional cooperation to improve economic, social, and environmental development in Europe. The programme provides funding and technical assistance to regional and local governments, as well as other stakeholders, in order to assist them in sharing experiences and best practices, as well as developing and implementing policies and strategies that address common challenges.
Interreg Europe is a subset of the larger Interreg programme, which promotes cross-border cooperation and regional development throughout Europe. The European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) funds the programme, which includes all EU Member States as well as Norway and Switzerland.
Interreg Europe is organised around four major themes: research and innovation, SME competitiveness, low-carbon economy, and environment and resource efficiency. The programme typically funds projects that involve collaboration between at least two regions from different countries and can include activities such as joint research, knowledge transfer, and capacity building.
Interreg Europe’s overall goal is to support the implementation of the European Union’s cohesion policy, which seeks to reduce economic, social, and territorial disparities between EU regions.
What Topics do Interreg Europe cover?
Interreg Europe addresses four major thematic priorities, which are as follows:
- Research and Innovation: This priority focuses on strengthening research and innovation capacities and encouraging regional innovation-led economic growth. It supports initiatives that aim to strengthen the connections between research and business, promote technology transfer, and improve the innovation ecosystem.
- SME Competitiveness: The goal of this priority is to improve the competitiveness of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) by fostering entrepreneurship, innovation, internationalisation, and access to finance. It also focuses on strengthening regional innovation systems and assisting SMEs in adopting new technologies.
- Low-Carbon Economy: This priority promotes energy efficiency, renewable energy, and resource sustainability as part of the transition to a low-carbon economy. It aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve energy security, and promote long-term economic growth.
- Environment and Resource Efficiency: This priority is concerned with environmental protection and promoting the sustainable use of natural resources. It backs initiatives that aim to improve air and water quality, reduce waste and pollution, and promote the circular economy.
Interreg Europe covers a wide range of cross-cutting issues, including digital transformation, social innovation, cultural heritage, and rural development, among others, in addition to these four thematic priorities. These issues are addressed across all thematic priorities, demonstrating the complexity and interconnectedness of regional development challenges.
History of Interreg Europe
Interreg Europe derives from the European Territorial Cooperation (ETC) goal, which was established by the European Union in the early 1990s to promote cross-border, transnational, and interregional cooperation among European regions. The goal was to promote the development of a more cohesive and integrated Europe, as well as to reduce regional disparities.
The first Interreg programme was launched in 1990, with the goal of encouraging cross-border cooperation among regions located on the EU’s external borders. Since then, the Interreg programme has grown to include all EU regions and a broader range of cooperation activities.
Interreg Europe, in particular, was launched in 2015 as part of the European Union’s Cohesion Policy for the 2014-2020 period. It was designed to succeed the previous Interreg IV C programme, which ran from 2007 to 2013. Interreg Europe is one of several Interreg programmes, including Interreg A (cross-border cooperation), Interreg B (transnational cooperation), and Interreg C (cross-national cooperation) (interregional cooperation).
The European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) funds the programme, which has a budget of more than €500 million for the 2014-2020 programming period. Hundreds of projects have been supported by the programme across Europe, involving thousands of partners from regional and local governments, universities, research institutions, business associations, and other stakeholders. These projects have aided in a variety of regional development outcomes, such as job creation, innovation, environmental sustainability, and social inclusion.