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.
The entire Interreg programme is delivered through two priorities.
Priority 1: Co-operation for a more prosperous cross-border region:
It will do this by helping to diversify and develop the economy
- By encouraging innovation and competitiveness in enterprise and business development and
- By promoting tourism;
Priority 2: Co-operation for a sustainable cross-border region:
It will do this by supporting activities that
- Promote cross-border co-operation in policy development and
- Improve access to services to promote the quality of life for those living in the eligible area.
INTERREG co-operation includes:
Cross Border (INTERREG IVA) programmes aim to bring adjacent cross-border regions closer together through the development of joint projects. Under these programmes, projects can be financed in a wide variety of themes e.g. culture, tourism, economic development and transport.
Transnational programmes (INTERREG IVB) aim to promote a higher degree of territorial integration, with a view to achieving sustainable, harmonious and balanced development across the EU and better territorial integration with candidate and other neighbouring countries. Key areas of focus include: Innovation, Environment, Accessibility and Sustainable Urban Environment. There are 13 programme zones, three of which are relevant to Northern Ireland.
Interregional Co-operation (INTERREG IVC) focuses on the identification, analysis and dissemination of good practices by public authorities in order to improve the effectiveness of regional and local policies. Co-operation projects are eligible across all 27 EU states, plus Norway and Switzerland.
INTERREG IVC provides funding for interregional cooperation across Europe. It is implemented under the European Community’s territorial co-operation objective and financed through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). The Operational Programme was approved in September 2007 and the period for INTERREG IVC will last from 2007-2013. This programme follows on from the INTERREG IIIC programme which ran from 2002-2006.
The overall objective of the INTERREG IVC Programme is to improve the effectiveness of regional policies and instruments. A project builds on the exchange of experiences among partners who are ideally responsible for the development of their local and regional policies.
The areas of support are innovation and the knowledge economy, environment and risk prevention. Thus, the programme aims to contribute to the economic modernisation and competitiveness of Europe. INTERREG IVc is linked to the objectives of Lisbon and Gothenburg agendas.
Typical tools for exchange of experience are networking activities such as thematic workshops, seminars, conferences, surveys, and study visits. Project partners cooperate to identify and transfer good practices. Possible project outcomes include for example case study collections, policy recommendations, strategic guidelines or action plans. INTERREG IVC also allows light implementation or piloting, but only if these complement the exchange of experience activities.
The programme supports two types of projects : Regional Initiative Projects and Capitalisation Projects.
In Regional Initiative Projects partners work together to exchange experiences in a policy field of their interest. They can choose between three levels of intensity for their cooperation. These vary from simple networking to the development of policy instruments or the establishment of mini-programmes.
In Capitalisation Projects partners build on already identified good practices. Capitalisation projects are set up to transfer these good practices into mainstream programmes of EU Structural Funds. This is done by developing action plans and involving relevant policy makers. The European Commission offers additional expertise to some of these projects, named Fast Tract Projects.
The INTERREG IVC Programme is financed through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), whose principles and regulations are laid down in Council Regulation N° 1083/2006 (General Regulation), Council and Parliament Regulation N° 1080/2006 (ERDF Regulation) and Commission Regulation N° 1828/2006 (Implementation Regulation). The Regulation on the use of the Euro in Structural Funds (Commission Regulation N° 0643/2000) also applies to the INTERREG IVC Programme.