Interreg IIIA is a EUR 65.5 million/£40 million Ireland/Wales joint programme, which was launched in 2002. It aims to encourage west Wales and eastern Ireland to work together, with an integrated approach to economic, social and environmental development. Projects considered for grants might include initiatives, which promote greater links between businesses, training in basic skills, green transport initiatives, community enhancement, tourism ventures, or marine & environmental management.
INTERREG IIIA is supported by the European Union and is designed to encourage partnerships across borders and in doing so to stimulate regional development. Within the development of this Programme, the physical and institutional aspects of cross-border co-operation on maritime borders distinguish them in many aspects from that in land borders.
The National Assembly for Wales and the Government of Ireland are committed to the principle of partnership and this has been central in developing the arrangements for preparing and implementing the Programme.
In 2007 the programme was extended as INTERREG IV until 2013.
The main objectives are:
- Achieving sustainable development by a progressive integration of local economic, social and environmental development, of a region which is forward looking and attractive in terms of its quality of life, social equity, environment and its communication links.
- Establishing a region geared to the needs of competing in a global economy. This will be achieved by developing the relationship between the public, private and voluntary sectors to help create quality jobs in a modern economy.
These objectives will be achieved in ways, which contribute to the crosscutting themes of equal opportunities, environmental sustainability and Information and Communications Technology. Achieving the objectives will require two key Priorities. These are:
1. To Encourage the Economic, Social and Technological Development of the Cross-Border Area.
2. To Achieve Sustainable Growth by Enhancing the Overall Quality of the Cross-Border Area
With a third Priority (Technical Assistance) supporting the whole of the Programme.
An objective of the Information and Communication Technology measure (Priority 1 Measure 4) is to explore integrated transport opportunities for those using ferries, air, rail, bus and cycles to travel between Wales and Ireland and to consider the development of green transport initiatives.
The strategy for the INTERREG IIIA Programme derives from the socio-economic baselines, the environmental profile, the evaluation of the INTERREG II Programme and the momentum for broadening, deepening and strengthening the relationships it created. It is informed by the Regional Analysis SWOT tables which identify weaknesses to be addressed and opportunities to be availed of in the Programme.
The strategy recognises the overall objective of the European Union, that is "to promote throughout the Community a harmonious, balanced and sustainable development of economic activities". It is also informed by the sustainable development strategy for Ireland, as well as the duty on the National Assembly for Wales to promote sustainable development in its activities.
A total of EUR 45 million (approximately Stg£29.3) is available in ERDF (European Regional Development Fund) funding for the Programme. The Programme is broken into two priorities and the following activities may be funded:
- Priority 1 Measure 1: Business and Enterprise Development EUR 8.5
- Priority 1 Measure 2: Rural Development and Diversification EUR 7.1
- Priority 1 Measure 3: Education, Training and Human Resource Development EUR 7.6
- Priority 1 Measure 4: Communications in Technology and Transport EUR 3.8
- Priority 2 Measure 1: Marine and Coastal Development and the Environment EUR 8.5
- Priority 2 Measure 2: Culture, Heritage and Tourism EUR 9.5