Interreg Europe

Third call for projects
2024-03-20
2024-06-17 12:00

(

Europe/Brussels

)

130000000
unspecified
unspecified
48 months

Description

Through its cohesion policy, the European Union works to reduce disparities both in the levels of development and in quality of life in European regions. It promotes actions aiming at making the European territory more innovative, more sustainable, and more inclusive, thus improving quality of life of the inhabitants. The large majority of the funds designated to reduce these disparities are managed at the regional or national levels. The European Union believes that regional development can also be improved through cooperation across borders.

In this context, the Interreg Europe programme supports the exchange and transfer of experience, innovative approaches and capacity building among public authorities and other policy relevant organisations across Europe with a view to improving their regional development policy instruments including programmes under the Investment for jobs and growth goal.

Eligible area

The programme eligible area covers the whole European Union territory with its 27 Member States, including insular and outermost regions. In addition, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Moldova, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Norway, Serbia, Switzerland and Ukraine are full members of the programme and organisations from these countries are eligible1 to participate in projects. Partners from other countries can participate at their own costs.

Action supported

This is a call for proposals for interregional cooperation projects. These projects gather policy-relevant organisations from different countries in Europe working together on a common regional development issue. The first three years of the projects (‘core phase’) are dedicated to exchange and transfer of experience among the participating partners in order to improve the policy instruments addressed by the project. In the fourth and last year (‘follow-up phase’), the regions mainly focus on monitoring the results and impact of the cooperation. A detailed description of this action is provided in section B ‘Projects’ of the programme manual.

At least one of the policy instruments addressed in a project must be an Investment for jobs and growth goal programme. The policy instruments addressed by a project must be carefully selected and clearly defined at the application stage. In particular, the following elements should be ensured:

– Only one main policy instrument is addressed per participating ‘region’.

– The scope of the different instruments is in line with the issue addressed by the project.

– The project addresses existing policy instruments whose time span covers at least the duration of the Interreg Europe projects. Policy instruments under preparation may be addressed only if sufficient details are available on its scope and nature (each policy instrument needs to be described in the application form) and if its policy responsible authority is already confirmed.

Priorities Programme scope

The programme is structured around one single cross-cutting priority, the Interreg-specific objective ‘a better cooperation governance’. This means that beneficiaries can cooperate on any topics of shared relevance in line with their regional needs, as long as this falls within the scope of cohesion policy. Projects need to select a specific objective in their application form. The programme also recognises the need to concentrate resources on those policy areas that are most relevant and urgent for regions in Europe. For this reason, the programme plans to indicatively concentrate the largest share of its budget (80%) on the thematic areas covered by a selection of specific objectives.

80% of the budget:

1. Smarter Europe

(i) Research and Innovation capacities, uptake of advanced technologies

(ii) Digitisation for citizens, companies, research organisations and public authorities

(iii) Sustainable growth and competitiveness of SMEs and job creation in SMEs, including by productive investments

(iv) Skills for smart specialisation, industrial transition & entrepreneurship

(v) Digital connectivity

2. Greener Europe

(i) Energy efficiency and reduction of greenhouse emissions

(ii) Renewable energy (iii) Smart energy systems, grids and storage

(iv) Climate change adaptation, disaster risk prevention, resilience

(v) Access to water and sustainable water management

(vi) Circular and resource efficient economy

(vii) Protection and preservation of nature and biodiversity, green infrastructures, pollution reduction

(viii) Sustainable urban mobility for zero carbon economy

4. More social Europe

(i) Effectiveness and inclusiveness of labour market, access to quality employment, social economy

(v) Equal access to health care, health systems resilience, familybased and community-based care

(vi) Culture and tourism for economic development, social inclusion and social innovation

20% of the budget:

3. More connected Europe

(i) Climate resilient, intelligent, secure, sustainable and intermodal TEN-T

(ii) Sustainable, climate resilient, intelligent and intermodal national, regional and local mobility

4. More social Europe

(ii) Accesses to education, training and lifelong learning, distance and on-line education and training

(iii) Inclusion of marginalised communities, low-income households and disadvantaged groups

(iv) Socio-economic integration of third country nationals, including migrants

5. Europe closer to Citizens

(i) Sustainable integrated territorial development, culture, natural heritage, sustainable tourism and security (urban areas)

(ii) Sustainable integrated territorial development, culture, natural heritage, sustainable tourism and security (other than urban)

In addition, in the context of the Interreg-specific objective ‘a better cooperation governance’, Interreg Europe can support ‘non-thematic’ cooperation on issues dealing with pure implementation related challenges of regional development policies (e.g., state aid, public procurement, territorial tools, financial instruments, evaluation and monitoring). These governance related issues are also important when working on more efficient regional development policies. Further information on the programme priority axes and specific objectives can be found in the Interreg Europe Cooperation Programme and section 2.5 of the programme manual.

Innovative character

The Interreg Europe programme has supported and continues to support a high number of projects and regions. As reflected in Annex 01 of the present terms of reference, the first call projects already cover a wide range of regional development issues. Information on these projects and on 2014-2020 projects is available on the programme website www.interregeurope.eu. Organisations interested in the third call are therefore invited to check whether the issue addressed in their project idea is already covered by these projects. If this is the case, proposals submitted in the third call should demonstrate how they differ from or build on these experiences.

Since Interreg Europe cannot finance the mere continuation of past projects, the question of innovative character is particularly important for partnerships already supported under previous EU programmes and which would like to develop a follow-up proposal. Past projects partnerships can apply again only if they bring major changes to their composition. Therefore, a new proposal may include only one or two regions from a previous project.

Partnership requirements

The following organisations are eligible to receive Interreg or Norwegian funds.

• Public authorities,

• Public law bodies (bodies governed by public law),

• Private non-profit bodies.

Private non-profit bodies, discovery partners and partners from Switzerland cannot take on the role of lead partner. Beyond the issue of eligibility, one of the key success factors for any application is to ensure that the proposed partnership is coherent with the objective and issue addressed in the proposal.

In line with the programme’s objective, the policy responsible authorities are the core target group of Interreg Europe. These organisations can be national, regional or local authorities as well as other relevant organisations responsible for elaborating and/or implementing regional development policies. In the case of Investment for jobs and growth goal programmes, the responsible authorities are the relevant managing authorities or intermediate bodies.

Each ‘region’ involved in a project has to identify the main policy instrument it aims to improve through the cooperation. The direct involvement of the authorities responsible for these instruments is a key feature for projects to achieve their objectives. Therefore, the involvement of the policy responsible authority as partner is compulsory for at least 50% of the policy instruments addressed in a project application. For the remaining policy instruments (if any), these authorities must be involved as an ‘associated policy authority’.

Projects must involve partners from at least three countries, at least two of which must be beneficiaries from EU Member States, with the latter applying for Interreg Europe funding. Therefore, to be eligible in the third call, the applications submitted have to ensure that at least four out of the five areas below are represented in the partnership with at least one project partner:

North: Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Sweden

East: Austria, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia

South: Croatia, Cyprus, Greece, Italy, Malta, Portugal, Spain

West: Belgium, France, Ireland, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Switzerland

Candidate countries area: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Moldova, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia and Ukraine

It should however be highlighted that the fulfilment of eligibility criterion 5 is not sufficient to ensure that a partnership goes beyond transnational cooperation areas. For instance, a transnational programme like MED already covers four of the five geographical areas defined by Interreg Europe (South, East with Slovenia and Bulgaria, West with part of France and the candidate countries area with Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and North Macedonia).

Recommendations for the quality assessment

One of the objectives of Interreg Europe is to support as many regions of the programme area as possible. In this context, the participation of partners from the following areas is strongly encouraged for this third call:

– Candidate countries. For the first time, the Interreg Europe call is open to seven EU candidate countries.

– Switzerland. After two calls open to 29 Partner States, Switzerland remains the only Partner State not yet represented in projects. Swiss authorities at different institutional levels (cities, cantons) can be contacted to join projects.

– Other regions not yet represented in the 1st and 2nd call projects (see also Annex 02). The list of NUTS 2 regions not yet represented in the first and second call projects is available as Annex 02 of the present document. The participation of partners from these regions / countries will be regarded positively during the quality assessment.

Remarks

Based on the past experience, the total ERDF budget of a project usually goes from 1 MEUR up to 2 MEUR. The eligible project activities are co-financed by the Interreg funds at a rate of either 70% or 80% depending on the legal status of the project partner from the 27 EU Member States and the 7 EU candidate countries. Partners from Norway and Switzerland are not eligible to receive Interreg funds but can receive co-financing from their respective national funds. Organisations from Norway are invited to contact the Norwegian Interreg national point of contact to receive information on Norwegian funding opportunities.

When preparing an application, it is essential to identify the relevant ‘policy responsible authority’ of each policy instrument addressed by the project. In case of doubt, the relevant Partner State should be contacted since only the Partner State can confirm whether an organisation from its territory qualifies as a policy responsible authority for the policy instrument addressed in its country.