Cohesion policy encourages regions and cities from different EU Member States to work together and learn from each other through joint programmes, projects and networks. In the period 2007-13 the European Territorial Co-operation objective (formerly the INTERREG Community Initiative) covers three types of programmes:
- 53 cross-border co-operation programmes along internal EU borders. ERDF contribution: €5.6 billion. (2007-2013)
- 13 transnational co-operation programmes cover larger areas of co-operation such as the Baltic Sea, Alpine and Mediterranean regions. ERDF contribution: €1.8 billion. (2007-2013)
- The interregional co-operation programme (INTERREG IVC) and 3 networking programmes (Urbact II, Interact II and ESPON) cover all 27 Member States of the EU. They provide a framework for exchanging experience between regional and local bodies in different countries. ERDF contribution: €445 million.
European Territorial Cooperation (ETC) counts for a relatively small part of EU Regional Policy. But if the current agreement on Regional Policy funding for 2014-2020 is approved by the European Parliament and Council, its budget would increase to €8.9 billion. Under the new reforms to Regional Policy, currently in the final stages of negotiation, ETC programmes will also be more focused on investments that create the right conditions for future growth.
Commissioner for Regional Policy, Johannes Hahn, said: “These cooperation programmes and projects bring European citizens closer together, sharing ideas across borders and finding solutions to shared problems. We have hundreds of ETC projects in EU regions and member states and in some neighbouring regions outside the EU. They are actively improving the daily lives of European citizens across borders, by creating jobs, protecting the environment, strengthening health care services, and investing in transport and energy infrastructure. I hope that the funding that has been proposed will be confirmed, so as to bolster the good work they are doing and ensure their continued momentum into the future.”
This week will see numerous EU programmes joining forces on and around 21st September to showcase the results and benefits of cooperation between regions across borders. The breadth of European Territorial Cooperation is in itself an achievement. It extends from community-based projects linking people in Northern Ireland and the border region of Ireland, to joint activities bridging communities in for example Austria and Slovenia, to broader transport or environmental strategies joining EU member States and regions, such as in the Balkans. For the second year, more than 100 events will be taking place in 30 countries, to raise awareness of the positive impact of cooperation through EU regional policy.