INTERREG IVC Frequently Asked Questions
When was the programme approved?
The programme was submitted to the European Commission on 19 April 2007. It was approved on 11 September 2007.
When was the programme officially launched?
A launch conference took place on 20 and 21 September 2007 in Lisbon, Portugal. This Interregional Cooperation Forum was the closing event of INTERREG IIIC and officially launched the new INTERREG IVC programme.
When will the next call for proposals take place?
All funds for INTERREG IVC project funding have now been allocated. Please visit the news section for the latest details. There will therefore be no further calls for proposals in this programming period (2007-2013). We invite to sign up to our newsletter, as we will continue our activities disseminating the results of cooperation projects that could be taken up by interested regions.
Assistance to Applicants
Information Points have been set up in Rostock (Germany), Katowice (Poland), Valencia (Spain) and Lille (France) to provide assistance to applicants and support the network of national and regional contact points. Further details can be found on the programme website. Updated information will always be communicated through this channel.
Is INTERREG IVC organised into 4 zones as under the previous INTERREG IIIC programme?
No. There is one single programme for the whole European territory, including the EU 27 Member States, Norway and Switzerland.
Who is the Managing Authority of INTERREG IVC?
The Managing Authority of INTERREG IVC is the Conseil Régional Nord-Pas de Calais, Lille, France.
Where is the Joint Technical Secretariat of INTERREG IVC based?
The Joint Technical Secretariat (JTS) is located in Lille, France. In addition, the JTS works closely with four Information Points which deliver information and technical advice to applicants. They are based in Katowice (Poland), Lille (France), Rostock (Germany) and Valencia (Spain).
Which regions are eligible under INTERREG IVC?
The eligible INTERREG IVC cooperation area covers the whole territory of the European Union with its 27 Member States, including their insular and outermost areas, as well as Norway and Switzerland.
Can partners from non-EU Member States be eligible under INTERREG IVC?
The general rule is that partners coming from non-EU Member States can participate in INTERREG IVC but at their own costs. However, partners from Norway can make use of national funds. Swiss partners should refer to the Swiss National Contact Point in order to know more about the availability of Swiss funds. Finally, there is currently no agreement on the harmonised use of EU funds between INTERREG IVC and IPA / ENPI (Instrument for Pre-Accession / European Neighbourhood Policy Instrument).
Are the programme documents available in languages other than English?
No. The official programme documents are only available in English which is the working language of the programme. Some Member States might provide informal translations in their national language, for informational purposes only. Please contact the National Contact Point to see if this is the case. However, only the English version as approved by the Monitoring Committee is authentic and should be used as reference. The application form and all annexes have to be submitted in English.
What is the rationale of the INTERREG IVC Programme?
The INTERREG IVC Programme is an exchange and capitalisation programme which aims to improve, through the exchange of experience and good practices, the effectiveness of regional development policies. Indeed, it focuses on the identification, analysis and, under certain conditions, the transfer of good practices. Therefore:
- The “natural” target group of the programme are regional and local public authorities, as these bodies are responsible for regional and local policies;
- INTERREG IVC is fundamentally different from cross-border and transnational cooperation programmes. In particular, it is not primarily dedicated to ‘implementation’ or to ‘experimentation’. Core activities of INTERREG IVC projects should always be related to the exchange of experiences at policy level.
What themes of cooperation are eligible?
The programme is organised around two thematic priorities related to the Lisbon and Gothenburg agendas. A certain number of sub-themes are defined for each of the priorities:
- Priority 1: Innovation and the knowledge economy (ERDF €177 million)
- Innovation, research and technology development
- Entrepreneurship and SMEs ;
- Information society ;
- Employment, human capital and education.
- Priority 2: Environment and risk prevention (ERDF €125 million)
- Natural and technological risks (including climate change) ;
- Water management ;
- Waste prevention and management ;
- Biodiversity and preservation of natural heritage (including air quality) ;
- Energy and sustainable transport ;
- Cultural heritage and landscape.
What is meant by ‘cross-cutting’ approach to sub-themes?
The INTERREG IVC programme supports projects that aim, through the exchange of experience and good practices, to improve regional policies addressing the above sub-themes. It is evident that these sub-themes are interlinked in many ways, within and even between the two priorities. Therefore projects can propose a cross-sectoral and integrated approach where appropriate. However, each project has still to select only one sub-theme and have a clear focus on a specific regional policy issue. The integrated approach does not mean that one project can address several sub-themes at the same level. It should instead be reflected in the manner in which the project addresses the specific sub-theme. This would for instance be the case of a project focusing on cluster policies in the sector of renewable energy. Such a project would have a clear single focus on Priority 1 (‘entrepreneurship and SMEs’ sub-theme) but it would still have a link with Priority 2 (‘energy and sustainable transport’ sub-theme).
What types of interventions are possible under INTERREG IVC?
Two types of interventions are possible: Regional Initiative Projects and Capitalisation Projects.
What are Regional Initiative Projects?
Regional Initiative Projects are “classic” interregional cooperation projects focusing on the exchange of experiences and the identification, analysis, dissemination and possible transfer of good practices. They have to focus on one of the sub-themes identified in the programme manual which are closely related to the Lisbon and Gothenburg strategies. In addition, activities can go from traditional networking activities to transfer of experience and/or implementation of pilot projects. Regardless of the intensity of cooperation, all Regional Initiative Projects must have a particular focus on the exchange of experience at policy level.
What are Capitalisation Projects?
Capitalisation Projects (including Fast Track Projects) are interregional cooperation projects focusing specifically on the transfer of regional development good practices into Structural Funds mainstream programmes. One of the expected outputs is a concrete action plan which should ideally be signed by the respective Managing Authority and relevant stakeholders in each of the participating regions. An action plan is understood as a strategic document which defines precisely how the good practices will be implemented in each participating region.
What are mini-programmes (such as RFOs under INTERREG IIIC)?
These ambitious cooperation projects require a high level of intensity of cooperation as they for instance imply the building up of joint elaborated decision making procedures to decide on sub-projects. However, these mini-programmes have to be more focused than the RFOs supported under INTERREG IIIC as they have to be in line with the two thematic priorities of the programme.
A mini-programme is a project with a limited number of partners (maximum 8) developing a joint framework for interregional cooperation that will be implemented through a limited number of sub-projects (maximum 12) developed via calls for proposals in the participating regions.
What are Fast Track projects?
Fast Track projects are Capitalisation projects which benefit from additional expertise from the European Commission in order to contribute to the Regions for Economic Change initiative. Based on its “assessment questions”, the European Commission identifies the possible Fast Track projects from the submitted Capitalisation projects. The programme\'s Monitoring Committee takes the final decision. Therefore, there is no specific application to Fast Track Projects.
The programme refers to the ‘joint implementation of pilot actions’. What is meant exactly by pilot actions ?
There is no official definition of ‘pilot action’ as this notion may vary a lot depending on the project. However, in all cases, it means an implementation carried out by one of the partners in order to test a new approach on its territory.
It can be related to a completely new experimentation for the concerned partnership. For instance, a project under the sub-theme ‘Information Society’ may be dealing with broadband infrastructure in rural areas. All the local authorities involved have different experiences in that field (e.g. fibre optic, wi-fi) but none of them of tried the broadband connection via satellite solution. One of these local authorities may therefore take the lead to test this new solution through the connection of a local rural administration through satellite connection (as long as the costs remain reasonable for the programme and in particular the equipment costs). It has to be clear that this experimentation will be useful not only for this specific authority but also for the other partners of the project (e.g. through sharing among the partnership the preparation, implementation and evaluation of this pilot action).
A pilot action can also be related to a transfer of practice from one authority to another authority. In the same above example, it would mean that one of the partners is already experienced in satellite broadband connection and will transfer its know-how to another partner who for the first time will try this technology on its territory.
In any case, the notion of ‘pilot action’ has to be tackled with a lot of care within INTERREG IVC for the three following reasons:
- INTERREG IVC is primarily dedicated to the exchange of experience at policy level. Pilot actions have therefore to be limited in IVC projects and are possible only if they are closely related to this exchange of experience. In particular, they should contribute to enrich this exchange of experience among the partners.
- As indicated in section 2.2.3 of the programme manual, all activities supported within INTERREG IVC have to respect three core conditions: relevance, interregionality and additionality. Experience shows that applicants have often difficulties to demonstrate how the pilot actions will respect these conditions.
- Pilot actions have to be defined as precisely as possible in the application form. They cannot be decided in the course of the project’s implementation in particular since this would prevent the applicants from proposing a clear budget for these activities at the application stage.
What should be included in the implementation plan?
The implementation plan is a document that specifies how each ‘region’ participating in the cooperation will work to integrate the lessons learnt from the cooperation into its local/regional or, if relevant, national policies.
This plan can include information on the results already achieved during the project lifetime, but its main focus should remain on the future actions planned to ensure that the benefits of the exchange of experience are not lost after the project’s end. These actions could, for instance, include local meetings to mobilise relevant stakeholders and preparation of bids to be submitted in local/regional/national programmes, launch of new initiatives in the region, measures to modify a specific policy document/instrument. No specific format or template for the implementation plan is provided by the programme so it is up to each project/region to design it to its need. The methodology for drafting the implementation plans is also up to each project to define.
What is the minimum number of countries that should be represented in the partnership?
As the INTERREG IVC programme is the only cooperation programme covering the whole Europe, it is recommended that partnerships cover a wide EU area. In particular, the geographical coverage should in principle go much beyond cross-border or transnational cooperation programmes.
For projects submitted in the 4th call, additional conditions were introduced. In order to be eligible, the applications submitted in the fourth call had to ensure that the two following requirements are met:
- at least one partner from each of the four Information Point areas is represented in the partnership,
- at least one of the twelve most recent EU Member States is represented in the partnership (i.e. Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Cyprus, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia).
What is the adequate number of partners within a Regional Initiative Project?
It is up to each partnership to define the adequate number of partners with a view to facilitating efficient implementation and reflecting the project’s objectives. In fact, the higher the intensity of cooperation is, the more complex the management becomes, and the lower the number of partners should be.
Therefore, it is recommended that :
- for basic intensity cooperation projects, the partnership can involve between 8 and 20 partners ;
- for medium intensity cooperation projects, the partnership should not exceed 10 to 15 partners.
In case a project does not follow these recommendations set by the programme, a clear justification needs to be included in the application form. Based on the statistics of the first three calls (excluding mini-programmes), it can be stated that Regional Initiative Projects involve on average 11 partners.
Can private bodies be eligible as partners in INTERREG IVC?
INTERREG IVC is a programme dedicated to public authorities (in particular regional and local authorities) and to bodies governed by public law. Due to the strategic approach of the INTERREG IVC programme, regional and local public authorities represent the main target group of the programme.
Private bodies are ineligible for ERDF funding but can participate in projects at their own costs. Furthermore, and subject to public procurement rules, the private sector can be subcontracted by partners to provide services or to assist in the implementation of certain activities.
What is meant by “body governed by public law”?
According to Directive 2004/18/EC, Article 1, a body governed by public law means any organisation:
- established for the specific purpose of meeting needs in the general interest, not having an industrial or commercial character ;
- having legal personality ; and
- financed, for the most part, by the State, regional or local authorities, or other bodies governed by public law ;
- or subject to management supervision by those bodies ;
- or having an administrative, managerial or supervisory board, more than half of whose members are appointed by the State, regional or local authorities, or by other bodies governed by public law.
How do I know if an organisation is eligible as a partner?
As indicated in the programme manual, each Member State is responsible for confirming the legal status of partners located on its territory. Therefore, in case of doubt about the legal status, interested bodies should contact their National Contact Point or Monitoring Committee member.
What are the criteria for Norwegian Lead Partners?
The Lead Partner takes the full administrative and financial responsibility for the project. Transferring ERDF to the partners through a non-EU Partner presents additional risks. Therefore, only in well justified cases should the Lead Partner come from Norway. Even though there are no specific criteria to assess it, possible justifications could be that the Norwegian partner:
- has a particular and outstanding experience in the policy field tackled by the project ;
- is the major financial contributor to the project.
Can bodies governed by public law act as Lead Partners?
Yes. Any eligible body can become a Lead Partner. However, when it comes to the participation of any body governed by public law (e.g. universities), such partners always need to carefully demonstrate their relevance to the programme. In particular, their link with regional/local authorities should be explained and their capacity to influence policies at the local/regional level has to be demonstrated in section 5 (Partnership) of the application form.
Can institutions from outside the programme area (EU-27, Norway and Switzerland) become project partners?
It is possible to have a partner from outside the programme area. However, their involvement is only possible at their own cost and as long as their participation is clearly justified in the application form. Their involvement has to be relevant to the overall objective of the project, in particular to the exchange of experience at policy level. This partner also needs to fulfil the partner eligibility requirements set by the programme, i.e. being a public body or a body governed by public law. Provided that the above conditions are fulfilled, the partner will be then considered as an official partner, listed in the application form and required to provide a financing statement covering the total contribution of this partner to the project.
How can the win-win character of an interregional partnership be demonstrated for regions which are already well-advanced in the regional development topic tackled by the partners?
In order to support the exchange of experience between local and regional policy-makers from different parts of Europe, INTERREG IVC aims to bring together more experienced and less experienced regions in the same policy field. However, the “flow” of experience, knowledge and good practices within an interregional partnership should never be considered as a “one way street”. Even the most advanced region can benefit from the cooperation by receiving valuable feedback on its policies and good practices from a new, external perspective. Furthermore, other regions might have completely different approaches to the addressed regional development issue which the advanced partners have never considered before. At the same time, no region in Europe should underestimate the experience and knowledge it can contribute to the partnership, even though might not be in the position yet to share its “own” good practice. Following the ‘contributing partner’ principle described in section 2.3.3 of the Programme Manual, the active and proportionate involvement of all partners in the project is therefore considered as a precondition to achieve the win-win character of the cooperation.
What is the total ERDF funding for INTERREG IVC?
The total ERDF budget available for commitments to operations during the period 2007 to 2013 amounts to 302 million EUR, which will be matched with national co-financing. In addition, 2.7 million EUR are available for the participation of Norwegian partners.
How much ERDF has already been allocated?
All funds for INTERREG IVC project funding have now been allocated. Please visit the facts and figures section for the latest details. There will therefore be no further calls for projects in this programming period (2007-2013). We invite everyone to sign up to our newsletter, as we will continue our activities disseminating the results of cooperation projects that could be taken up by interested regions.
How much Norwegian funding has been allocated?
Around EUR 2 million was allocated to Norwegian partners after four calls for proposals. There are no further calls for proposals in this programming period (2007-2013).
What is the ERDF co-financing rate for the partners of an approved project?
Under the INTERREG IVC, project activities are co-financed by the ERDF at either 75% or 85% depending on the Member State in which the partner is physically located :
- 75% for partners coming from Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and the UK ;
- 85% for partners coming from Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Cyprus, Estonia, Greece, Hungary, Lithuania, Latvia, Malta, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia.
The co-financing rate for partners coming from Norway is 50%.
Can activities outside the EU be funded through INTERREG IVC?
Based on Article 21 of Regulation (EC) No. 1080/2006, expenditure incurred in implementing parts of the projects outside the EU can be co-financed from ERDF, provided that they are for the benefit of the project and do not exceed 10% of the project’s INTERREG IVC budget. The expenditure for carrying out activities outside the EU (e.g. renting and catering costs for the organisation of a joint seminar), has to be budgeted, paid and borne by the EU or Norwegian partners of the project. The related activity has to be explicitly mentioned and justified in the approved application. Ideally, activities outside the EU are linked to the official participation of a non-EU partner in the project.
A detailed list of questions regarding project closure can be found here