The 2021 edition of ‘Europe, let’s cooperate!’, an interregional cooperation forum organised by Interreg Europe, was held virtually on 24-25 November. The special focus of this year’s event was the launch of the 2021-2027 Interreg Europe programme.
The two-day event showcased project results, provided an opportunity for networking with potential partners, and walked participants through the key features and novelties of the new programme.
The programme still needs to be approved by the European Commission and validated by the future Monitoring Committee. But regions are encouraged to prepare now for the future programme!
Below are some of the key features as it currently stands (subject to final validations mentioned above) as communicated during the ‘Europe, let’s cooperate!’ event.
What is Interreg Europe?
Interreg Europe is one of the project funding programmes of the European Union for European Territorial Cooperation. It supports cooperation across borders to jointly solve common issues and falls under the “interregional” strands (Interreg C).
The programme helps regional and local governments across Europe to develop and deliver better policy. Through interregional cooperation and shared solutions, the programme aims to make sure that government investment, innovation and implementation efforts all lead to integrated and sustainable impact for people and places.
The objective of the programme has not changed from the previous programming period. It remains to improve regional development policies, including investment for growth and job programmes.
The objective of each project is to improve policy instruments of participating regions.
All EU regions are eligible for the programme. Norway and Switzerland are eligible as associated countries. The minimum area to be covered by partner regions is yet to be determined. There will be some requirement (yet to be defined) to ensure broad coverage of partner regions across Europe.
Eligible beneficiaries who can receive funding from Interreg Europe are public authorities, bodies governed by public law (e.g. environmental agencies, business support agencies, etc.), and private non-profit bodies (e.g. chambers of commerce, cluster organisations, etc.). However, private non-profit bodies cannot take on the role of lead partner in Interreg Europe projects.
The cross-cutting priority of the programme is on “capacity building” as applied to the 6 topics of: Smart, Green, Social, Connected, Citizens, Governance. 80% of the programming budget will be concentrated on the 3 key topics of Smart, Green and Social. This concentration goes along with Cohesion Policy and relates to the programme-level – meaning that the total budget of the Interreg Europe programme 2021-2027 will be concentrated on these three topics, but individual projects can address any of these 6 topics.
One novel feature of the next programming period is that pilot actions will be possible from the start of the project, as well as at the mid-term point. This new approach opens the possibility of ‘learn-by-doing’. Previously, it was only possible to undertake pilot actions around phase 2, following initial interregional learning and transfers.
Projects will have 2 phases over a 4-year implementation. The ‘core phase’ (over 3 years) will be dedicated to the exchange of experience to achieve policy improvements, followed by a ‘follow-up’ phase (1 year) to monitor policy improvements.
There will be additional flexibility between phases and it will be up to each project to design the follow-up phase. There can still be learnings between partners in the second phase.
While the process is currently being reviewed, Action Plans will be focused on the regions which did not achieve results (a policy improvement) by the end of the core phase. Action Plans then become documents of actions where organisations will try to implement learnings from projects in the last year of the project.
The total programme budget will be increased to 334 MEUR (ERDF). It is expected that the average project budget will be around 1-2 MEUR (ERDF).
The co-financing rates for public or public equivalent bodies will be 80% ERDF.
Policy Learning Platform:
This service will remain for the next Interreg Europe programming period (2021-2027). This service is dedicated to take stock of all knowledge gathered around the Interreg Europe funded projects and make them available to any interested region in Europe. The platform includes services such as a knowledge hub, a community of peers, expert policy support, and a peer-review service.