Interreg projects aim to support the delivery of EU Regional Policy by helping regions to adapt their regional policy instruments to support the aims of the EU 2020 Strategy.
The European Union’s INTERREG IVC Programme (2007-2013) fostered interregional co-operation to improve the effectiveness of regional policies and contribute to the economic development of Europe’s regions. The programme funded interregional learning projects, which allowed regions to work together to share good practices and draw-up action plans and recommendations for improving regional policy frameworks. INTERREG IVC worked in twelve thematic areas, co-financing 204 projects and identifying hundreds of good practices and recommendations for regions.
In order to benefit from this collected knowledge and experience, the programme launched a Capitalisation exercise to analyse and benchmark the results of the projects ineach area, with Greenovate! Europe working on the areas of Renewable Energies and Entrepreneurship. The Capitalisation resulted in a number of publications, offering an inventory of evidence and experience to help regional authorities and interested stakeholders to introduce or develop their regional policies.
The Capitalisation Exercise also made a number of recommendations to strengthen INTERREG IVC’s follow-up programme, Interreg Europe, to ensure that it can have maximum impact in improving regional policy performance. These included strengthening links between projects and Managing Authorities of Structural Funds, building centrally managed Platforms for collecting the recommendations and good practices of the projects, and funding two-stage projects, allowing for the implementation of regional action plans to be monitored.
For the period 2014-2020, Interreg Europe will focus on only four thematic areas, to support regions to reach the aims of the Europe 2020 Strategy for Smart, Sustainable and Inclusive Growth. The Programme will focus on influencing the spending of the European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIFs), particularly the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), which is the main tool for delivering the Europe 2020 Strategy at regional level.
Interreg Europe aims to facilitate EU-wide policy learning and capitalisation of practices among actors of regional relevance in order to strengthen regional policies. Interreg Europe will achieve this by funding interregional co-operation projects, which allow regions to work together on a shared regional policy issue.
By adopting successful approaches from other project partners, and co-generating knowledge, the regions involved in these projects should improve how their policies are implemented. The programme will also provide assistance to regions through Policy Learning Platforms, such as individual advice, peer reviews, thematic seminars and recommendations on implementation of Structural Fund Programmes.
Structural Funds to 2020
For 2014-2020, the ESIFs have set aside €270 billion for supporting Growth and Jobs in Europe’s regions, including an estimated €38 billion for sustainable energy investments. Investment is primarily targeted at Europe’s less developed regions (GDP per capita of less than 75% of EU average), but all regions receive support.
Regions are expected to focus between 50-80% of their ERDF spending on four main priorities, which are drivers for economic growth: Innovation and Research; Digital Agenda; Support for SMEs; and the Low Carbon Economy. Each region sets out its Investment Priorities in an Operational Programme, which is written with input from regional stakeholders, and approved by the European Commission.
ERDF Operational Programmes
The Interreg Europe topic of Environment & Resource Efficiency focuses on two of the Investment Priorities of the ERDF. To find out how prevalent these priorities were in the ERDF Operational Programmes, Greenovate! Europe performed a study of all 175 ERDF Operational Programmes, finding that 146 Operational Programmes contained at least one Environment or Resource Efficiency investment Priority.
The total number of times that each Priority appeared are as follows:
- IP6a – Investing in the waste sector (51);
- IP6b – Investing in the water sector (59);
- IP6c – Protecting natural and cultural heritage (94);
- IP6d – Protecting and restoring biodiversity (84);
- IP6e – Improving the urban environment (73);
- IP6f – Promoting innovative technologies (4);
- IP6g – Supporting industrial transition to a resource efficient economy (6).
Under the Environment & Resource Efficiency topic, Interreg Europe will support regions interested in priorities 6c and 6g on natural and cultural heritage, and on supporting industrial transition. Regions tackling these investment priorities could gain substantial support for their regional planning, and for accessing ERDF funding, through the Interreg Europe programme.
- Thematic Programme Capitalisation on Renewable Energy
- Thematic Programme Capitalisation on Entrepreneurship
- Study on ERDF Operational Programmes on Environment & Resource Efficiency
For more information on the Capitalisation and the G!E Studies, contact Simon Hunkin (+32 2 400 2007)