Frequently asked questions
We have prepared for you an overview of frequently asked questions and our answers.
If you do not find the answer to your question here, please contact us at info[at]interregeurope.eu.
Click on the topic you are interested in.
|Structure||Call for proposals||Themes|
|Area||Application procedure||Policy instrument/ Focus on Structural Funds|
|Documents||Assistance to applicants||Partnership & Stakeholder groups|
|Funding||Activities & Pilots|
What is the difference between Interreg IVC and Interreg Europe?
We introduced new features to the programme to ensure that the use of EU funds is more effective:
- Selection of more focused topics: the more focused the topics, the more chances there are to have effective results
- Mid to long-term monitoring: EU cooperation projects have been criticised in the past over the difficulty of capturing projects’ results (on policy change) after the funding of the activities has ended. Now, regional partners will be asked to spend some time monitoring the effect of the projects on their territories. This 'monitoring phase' is essential for participating regions to demonstrate the value of the cooperation and to make sure that the results of cooperation (and of the investment of EU money) are captured more systematically.
- Policy learning platforms: while many European networks exist on countless topics of regional development, none has the main aim of supporting local and regional governments to be more effective when planning and implementing policies for the benefit of citizens. Policy learning platforms seek to redress this. They are a tool for faster and better sharing of knowledge to help governments do their job better.
- Greater emphasis on improving policies and programmes that are part of the European Union’s Cohesion policy.
- For the first time, private non-profit bodies can benefit from Interreg Europe funding, in addition to public bodies and bodies governed by public law.
How is Interreg Europe organised in terms of territory?
There is one single programme for the whole European territory with 30 partner states - EU28, Norway and Switzerland.
Who is the managing authority of Interreg Europe?
The managing authority of Interreg Europe is the Conseil Régional Nord-Pas de Calais, Lille, France.
Where is the secretariat of Interreg Europe?
The programme secretariat is located in Lille, France. In addition, the secretariat works closely with national points of contact in each partner state.
When was the programme approved?
We submitted the programme to the European Commission on 14 November 2014. The programme was approved on 11 June 2015.
When was the programme officially launched?
A launch conference took place on 2-3 December 2014 in Bologna, Italy. The Interregional cooperation forum ‘Europe, let’s cooperate!’ was the closing event of INTERREG IVC and it officially launched the new Interreg Europe programme.
Which regions are eligible under Interreg Europe?
The Interreg Europe cooperation area covers the whole territory of the European Union with its 28 member states, including their insular and outermost areas, as well as Norway and Switzerland.
Can partners from non-EU countries be eligible under Interreg Europe?
The general rule is that partners coming from non-EU countries can participate in Interreg Europe at their own costs.
Partners from Norway can make use of their national funds.
Swiss partners should refer to the Swiss national point of contact in order to learn more about the availability of Swiss funds.
There is currently no agreement on the harmonised use of EU funds between Interreg Europe and the Instrument for Pre-Accession or the European Neighbourhood Policy Instrument (IPA and ENPI).
Are the programme documents available in languages other than English?
No. The official programme documents are available only in English, the working language of the programme.
Some partner states might provide unofficial translations in their national language to facilitate access to the information. Please contact your national point of contact to see if that is the case. However, only the English version approved by the monitoring committee of the programme is authentic and should be used as the reference.
The application form and all annexes have to be submitted in English.
What is the co-financing rate for project partners?
- Public bodies and bodies governed by public law will be co-financed at a rate of 85%;
- Private non-profit bodies at a rate of 75%;
- Norwegian organisations at 50%.
- Organisations from Switzerland need to contact the Swiss national point of contact to receive information on Swiss funding opportunities
Partners will receive a contribution of 85%/ 75%/ 50% of the project costs from the programme. Is the remaining 15%/ 25%/ 50% supposed to be provided by themselves or by other public funds (for example, national)?
The national contribution has to be provided by the partner organisations themselves. It is up to these organisations to find this contribution. In some countries, there may be provisions to fund fully or partly the national co-financing required. This information should be checked at national level through the national points of contact.
Are private entities eligible for funding under Interreg Europe?
Private non-profit bodies are eligible under Interreg Europe with a co-financing rate of 75%.
How strongly must the integration of regional funds be committed at the application phase?
At the application stage, only the co-financing should be secured by each participating partner.
At the end of phase 1 of the project, an action plan for each region should be produced and the funding sources to implement each action, if needed, should be identified.
What amount should appear in the partner declaration?
The amount stated in the partner declaration should at least cover the amount of the partner contribution (15%, 25% or 50% of the partner’s budget depending on the legal status and location of the partner) or the total amount in case the partner is not applying for Interreg Europe co-financing.
To illustrate with an example: a public authority’s total budget is €150,000. The programme’s co-financing would be €127,500 (ERDF: 85% of the total budget) and the partner contribution would be €22,500 (partner contribution: 15% of the total budget for a public authority or a body governed by public law). This partner would have to indicate at least €22,500 in the partner declaration.
The amount has to be at least the same as in the application form. Please note that all figures in the budget section of the application are rounded up to the nearest Euro.
Please see also sections 4.4 Partnership, 5.2. Submission (point B. Partner declaration) and 5.3.1 Eligibility assessment in the programme manual for more details.
1st call for proposals
When will the first call for proposals be launched?
Before the launch of the first call for proposals, an information campaign took place. With the campaign, we published all the documents needed by project applicants to prepare a project proposal (terms of reference, programme manual, templates of the application form, template of the letter of support) on the Interreg Europe website. The information campaign started at the end of March 2015.
The first call for proposals was launched as soon as the first Monitoring Committee of the programme took place (on 16-17 June 2015). That is after the official approval of the Cooperation programme by the European Commission. This approval was given on 11 June. The exact dates of the first call for proposals are 22 June - 31 July 2015 (midday).
What is the timing of the first call and the subsequent selection process?
The first call for proposals was launched on 22 June 2015 and will close on 31 July at noon. Before the launch from the end of March 2015, we had an information campaign and published all the documents needed by project applicants to prepare a project proposal (terms of reference, programme manual, templates of the application form, template of the letter of support) on the Interreg Europe website.
We expect that the evaluation process of the project proposals will last approximately six months and that the projects will start early 2016.
Who decides on the selection of applications?
The Monitoring Committee of Interreg Europe. It is composed of representatives of all countries that are partners in the programme, that is EU28 + Norway and Switzerland.
Can I use the model letters provided in March to already gather signatures for the letter of support and partner declarations?
Yes, because the monitoring committee has not changed the wording of the two documents.
As the wording stayed the same, the letter of support or partner declaration will be eligible, even if signed before the call was launched.
Wording of the documents cannot be changed by the applicants.
How can I apply with a project proposal?
You can submit your project application through an online system. But a set of supporting documents need to be delivered by mail. Once a call for proposals opens, the access to the online system opens for all applicants to work on their online forms. With the call's end, the applications need to be submitted and the online system closes.
What is the exact deadline to submit my proposal?
The deadline to submit a proposal on the online system (www.iOLF.eu) is 31 July 2015, 12:00 CEST (Paris time).
The deadline to send the project summary by mail post is 31 July 2015. The date of the post stamp on the envelopes will be checked.
Is the online application sufficient or is it required to send also some documents by post?
In addition to the online submission of the application, all project applicants must send the project summary by post. This summary, which includes the lead partner confirmation (part A), has to be dated and stamped (if a stamp is available within the organisation). And it has to carry the original wet ink signature (not faxed, scanned or otherwise duplicated) of the legal representative of the organisation. The paper version of the summary has to be identical to the version submitted online. This can be verified by the control number generated by the online system.
The printed project summary of the application must also include the signed partner declarations from all partners including the one of the lead partner (originals or copies). Where relevant, the signed letters of support must also be enclosed (originals or copies).
The documents must be sent to the following address:
First call for proposals
Les Arcuriales - Entrée D - 5e étage
45 rue de Tournai
Can the documents sent by post be signed with an electronic signature?
Only the paper version of the project summary (which includes the lead partner declaration) must be signed with an original wet ink signature.
Other documents (partner declarations of other partners and letters of support) can have an electronic signature.
Assistance to Applicants
How can I find or become a partner in an Interreg Europe project?
You can use a partner search tool on our website. Become a member of the Interreg Europe community and search through the project ideas published by the community members. Some project ideas look for specific project partners. Contact the project idea owner and get your cooperation started.
We have also created specific groups on our LinkedIn page to facilitate your partner search. Join our group on project ideas and partner search and share your interest in becoming a project partner with other members. You can also decide to join one of the four sub-groups, each for the specific Interreg Europe theme – research & innovation, competitiveness of SMEs, low carbon economy and environment and resource efficiency.
When can we send you a project proposal for feedback?
You can send us your project idea already before the call is open. We assist project applicants in several ways and one of the tools is a written feedback to your project ideas. Just fill in the project idea feedback form and send it to us to info[at]interregeurope.eu.
This assistance will be put on hold before the first call closes. We will treat all project ideas received by 3 July 2015. This assistance will resume after the assessment of the first call applications is closed.
Are social topics included under Interreg Europe programme?
The thematic priorities selected by the programme mainly refer to the smart and sustainable growth pillars of the EU2020 strategy. Inclusive growth can be tackled indirectly through specific objective 2.1 dedicated to supporting SME development and entrepreneurship. Under this specific objective, projects could for instance address the issue of promoting entrepreneurship among specific target groups at risk of discrimination, for example unemployed youth, elderly people, disabled people, women, long-term unemployed and migrants.
Is social innovation part of this programme?
What kind of activities concerning ICT will be eligible?
Information and communication technologies are considered as a cross-cutting theme relevant for all the objectives of the programme, for instance through innovation infrastructures (under specific objective 1.1) or through the support to the digital economy (specific objective 2.1 dedicated to improving SME competitiveness policies).
How can tourism and culture be tackled in Interreg Europe?
Regional policies dedicated to tourism as an economic sector can potentially be tackled under the specific objectives 1.2 (dedicated to improving innovation delivery policies) and 2.1 (focusing on improving SME competitiveness policies). Regional policies on cultural heritage can be potentially tackled under specific objective 4.1 for improving natural and cultural heritage policies.
Would project proposals that support more than one of the four themes be looked upon favourably?
Interreg Europe is a thematic programme. In line with the concentration principle of the Structural Funds regulations, projects must have a clear focus on one of the four themes tackled by the programme.
But topics that will have a cross-cutting character are welcome. For instance, policies supporting innovation for companies involved in the 'energy from waste' sector would fit under specific objective 1.2 (dedicated to improving innovation delivery policies). It would also have a link to specific objectives 3.1 (focusing on improving low-carbon economy policies) and 4.2 (dedicated to improving resource-efficient economy policies).
Policy instrument / Focus on Structural Funds
What is a policy instrument?
A policy instrument is a means for public intervention. It refers to any policy, strategy, instrument, or law developed by public authorities and applied on the ground in order to improve a specific territorial situation. In most cases, financial resources are associated with a policy instrument. However, an instrument can sometimes refer to a legislative framework with no specific funding.
In the context of Interreg Europe, operational programmes for Investment for Growth and Jobs as well as Cooperation Programmes from European Territorial Cooperation are considered policy instruments. Beyond EU Cohesion policy, local, regional or national public authorities also develop their own policy instruments. Macroregional strategies can also be considered as policy instruments in the context of Interreg Europe. However, considering the characteristics of these strategies, it may be easier for projects to influence the corresponding transnational cooperation programmes than the macroregional strategy itself.
How do you count the number of policy instruments addressed?
Policy instruments are related to a specific territory. Partners from different regions/ countries will work on their own policy instrument. Therefore, there are as many policy instruments as territories considered in the project.
For example, if a project involves among others the Murcia regional government from Spain and the Baden-Württemberg government from Germany, they will each work on a different regional programme (the ERDF Regional Operational Programme of Murcia and the ERDF Regional Operational Programme of Baden-Württemberg), each of them counted as one policy instrument.
How do policy instruments count for non-EU partners?
The programme requirement on projects to focus on Structural Funds programmes applies to EU regions only, because non-EU partners do not have such programmes. But non-EU partners should still describe in the application form which policy instrument they would like to improve in their region with the project.
Current Structural Funds programmes 2014-2020 have already been shaped. Should we work on the prospects of the 2021-2027 ones?
No. The focus of Interreg Europe is not on the 2021-2027 programming period. The idea is to influence the implementation of the 2014-2020 programmes, not their design.
We believe there are opportunities to influence the way Structural Funds are used in the regions. For instance, our projects can encourage new funding schemes. Or they can suggest new ways to implement an investment priority of a regional operational programme, for example through thematic calls or a revised monitoring system. In specific cases, there may even be an opportunity to influence an operational programme itself, for example in the course of a mid-term review.
How will Interreg Europe be connected to the mainstream programmes at project level?
Participation of relevant organisations in a project will ensure this connection. Interreg Europe is primarily for policymakers. At project level, it is a prerequisite to involve organisations responsible for policy instruments addressed by a project. It means that for regions targeting their Structural Funds programmes, their managing authority (or an equivalent body) should be involved (check In your country section for country-specific lists with these organisations).
This involvement should ideally be direct - these organisations should become project partners. If that is not possible, they should sign the letter of support for another directly involved regional institution.
Improvement of the implementation of Structural Funds, would that mean only ERDF and ESF or EAFRD too?
The improvement of Structural Funds refers to European Regional Development fund (ERDF) and European Social Fund (ESF) programmes only. Considering the programme priorities, Interreg Europe focuses primarily on ERDF operational programmes.
The programme requirement that at least half of the policy instruments addressed by the EU regions in a project must be related to Structural Funds programmes means that out of all the policy instruments addressed by a project, half of them must be related to ERDF (or ESF) programmes.
What is the best way to find or become a partner in Interreg Europe projects?
A partner search tool is available on the programme website to facilitate the search. Specific groups dedicated to each of the four themes of the programme are also available on our LinkedIn page.
How many partners should be involved in a project?
In compliance with the EC regulation, projects have to involve partners from at least three countries, from which at least two partners must be from the EU member states, financed by the Interreg Europe programme.
From the INTERREG IVC experience, the recommendation is to set up a partnership between 5 to 10 partners.
Who can participate in Interreg Europe as partner?
Interreg Europe aims at improving the implementation of regional policies, with a particular focus on the Investment for Growth and Jobs and European Territorial Cooperation programmes. The programme is primarily for organisations responsible for regional policies and organisations in charge of Structural Funds programmes.
The following types of institutions are eligible for the programme:
- local, regional, national authorities
- bodies governed by public law
- private non-profit organisations
How do I find out whether my organisation is eligible for Interreg Europe?
The following bodies are eligible to participate in Interreg Europe projects:
- Public authorities
- Bodies governed by public law
- Private non-profit bodies
To check the eligibility of your organisation, you should contact the relevant national point of contact.
Could organisations from third countries be part of the partnership? And could these entities be beneficiaries of funding?
Organisations from third countries can be partners in an Interreg Europe project. However, they cannot be beneficiaries of ERDF funds.
Is there a role for SMEs in Interreg Europe? How can they be involved?
Since Interreg Europe is dedicated to exchange of experience among policy-making institutions, SMEs cannot participate directly as partners in Interreg Europe projects. But SMEs can be involved in projects as members of the stakeholder groups. In this case, their travel and accommodation costs can be taken over by the partners of the project.
Is it compulsory that a managing authority is a partner in project?
Due to the programme rationale, the involvement of organisations responsible for the policy instruments addressed by a project is a prerequisite under Interreg Europe. Ideally, these organisations should be involved directly as partners in the project. If it is not possible, they must sign a letter of support for a project partner.
These organisations can be national, regional and local authorities as well as other institutions in charge of the definition and implementation of regional policy instruments. When Structural Funds programmes are addressed, the involvement of managing authorities or equivalent bodies (see the country-specific requirements) is compulsory, either directly or through the letter of support.
Are universities and research centers eligible for Interreg Europe?
It depends on the status of these organisations. But usually these organisations comply with the definition of bodies governed by public law. In this case, they are eligible. But the eligibility status should always be checked with the relevant national point of contact.
Can universities lead Interreg Europe projects?
The main target groups of Interreg Europe are regional and local authorities because the aim of the programme is the improvement of regional policies. But if a university demonstrates its relevance to the project, it can participate in and even lead a project.
'More and less developed regions', what does it mean?
The EC Cohesion policy aims at reducing disparities across regions in Europe. Interreg Europe contributes to this aim by encouraging regions with GDP per capita lower than 75% of the EU-28 average (less developed regions) to work with regions whose GDP per capita is higher (transition regions - GDP per capita between 75% and 90% of the EU-28 average – and more developed regions - GDP per capita above 90% of the EU-28 average). For more information, please check the map provided by the European Commission.
If an institution has no experience in Interreg projects, can it be a lead partner?
Yes, any eligible organisation can become a lead partner of Interreg Europe project. The only exceptions are private non-profit bodies and Swiss partners.
Is an 'observer status' possible for partners?
No, there is no such status for project partners in Interreg Europe.
What is an 'advisory partner'?
Advisory partners participate in projects because of their particular competence that can facilitate projects' implementation. They do not address a policy instrument, so they do not need to develop an action plan. For example, an advisory partner can be an academic institution that is specialised in the topic tackled by a project or in the exchange of experience process.
Participation of advisory partners in projects is usually limited, because the overall programme rationale keeps the focus on policymakers and on the exchange of experience on policies.
Like any other 'normal' project partner, advisory partners are included in section B of the application form and they have their own budget. That distinguishes them from external experts.
Are there any criteria regarding the geographical coverage of a partnership?
Interreg Europe is the only Interreg programme that covers the whole of Europe. Our recommendation is that partnerships go beyond the cross-border and transnational cooperation areas. Wider geographical coverage allows partners to broaden their experience and confront their practices with different cultures and contexts.
What is a stakeholder group?
It is a group of all relevant organisations that play a role in the design and implementation of the policy addressed by the project in a given region.
Policy-making process is complex and involves a variety of organisations beyond the one responsible for the policy. The chance of achieving a policy improvement can increase if all these organisations get involved in the interregional learning process.
So, project partners should create a stakeholder group in their region with all the relevant organisations involved. Some of them may be implementing later on certain measures of the action plan.
From the start of the cooperation - already at the application stage - the partners have to describe who they envisage to be involved in these groups. Examples of how to select and involve stakeholders are provided in the programme manual, section 4.4.1 on partnership composition.
Do members of the stakeholder groups in each region receive funds?
Stakeholder group members do not receive direct ERDF funding. But their travel and accommodation costs can be taken over by the project partners.
How to select the right stakeholders to involve?
You should look for the organisations involved in the policy-making process in your region for the specific topic tackled by your project. Just as an example, these could be chambers of commerce, universities, development agencies, energy agencies, SMEs and so on.
How many members shall I have in the stakeholder group?
There is no recommendation regarding the number of members in a stakeholder group. It depends on the topic considered, on the local context and on the involvement strategy of this group.
Can I involve people from outside my region in my stakeholder group?
Since this group is related to a policy instrument, it should include bodies that have a role to play in shaping, managing and/ or implementing the policy instrument addressed. In principle, these bodies are therefore from the region concerned by this policy instrument.
In case bodies from outside the region are involved, their participation and role in the policy making process should be clearly justified in the application form.
Is it possible to pay the stakeholder group members for their time
Only the persons employed by the project partners listed in the application form can claim their time. But the travel and accommodation costs of the stakeholder group members are eligible as long as they are paid by the project partners.
Should the stakeholder group be constituted per policy instrument or per region?
One stakeholder group should be set up for each policy instrument addressed.
Action plans/ Pilot actions
What is an action plan?
An action plan is a document providing details on how the lessons learnt from the cooperation will be implemented in order to improve the policy instrument tackled within a given region. The document specifies the nature of the actions to be implemented, their timeframe, the players involved, the costs (if any) and funding sources (if any).
An action plan template is in an annex to the programme manual.
Is an action plan a policy instrument?
No, an action plan is not a policy instrument.
Are pilot actions possible in Interreg Europe?
Pilot actions are not possible in phase 1 of a project. They may be financed by Interreg Europe in phase 2 with limited budget and in compliance with the state aid rules, given that certain criteria are met: interregionality, additionality and policy relevance.
The rationale behind Interreg Europe is that the implementation of the actions resulting from the learning (including experimentations) are financed within the relevant local, regional or national policies. The support for pilot actions should not be the motivation for regions to come to Interreg Europe.
What if the action plan is not implemented or its goals are not reached?
Drafting of the action plan is a requirement from the programme, so it is a compulsory output of the project. If the implementation of all or some of the actions foreseen in the document does not take place, the reasons for the failure will have to be explained by the relevant partner during phase 2 of the project.
Is it possible to produce a joint action plan?
The partners should develop one action plan for each policy instrument addressed. But these plans can also include actions which are jointly developed with other regions (when relevant).
Project finances and administration
To what extent will Interreg Europe make use of simplified cost options?
Interreg Europe will apply a flat rate of 15% of staff costs for administration costs. The programme will also pay the preparation costs in the form of a lump sum.
If there is no pre-financing, at what point of the project do partners receive the co-funding they have applied for?
Projects should be ready to pre-finance activities for up to approximately 12 months. A reporting period covers 6 months of project implementation. Then there are 3 months to prepare a report for submission to the programme secretariat. Upon receipt of the report, the monitoring, approval and payment usually takes another 3 months.
The Interreg Europe programme will continue its efforts to provide the ERDF to the lead partner as quickly as possible after the approval of a report (payment claim). Usually the payment should be made to the lead partner within 4 weeks after the approval of the report. The lead partner then transfers the individual ERDF amounts to the project partners.
What should a project partner expect with regard to the administration of a project implementation?
Majority of the project implementation is content related, that means it is linked to the exchange of experience on the policies addressed.
Nevertheless when joining an Interreg Europe project, partners have to be aware that there are administrative tasks linked to the project implementation as well. In particular, project partners have to prepare financial and content reports on a six-month basis in phase 1 (and on an annual basis in phase 2). These reports are compiled by the lead partner who then submits one progress report to the programme secretariat. Before that, all expenditure of each project partner to be reported to the programme has to be verified by a designated controller in line with the country-specific requirements. Further information is in the programme manual in sections 6 and 7 on project implementation and financial management respectively.
How to estimate a reasonable project budget?
There is no general one-size-fits-all solution. The right approach to estimating a reasonable project budget is to first plan the activities to be carried out and in the second step plan the budget according to those activities. Therefore, the overall budget has to be in line with the activities planned, the project’s duration and the number of partners involved. This implies that the detailed budget is always prepared on the basis of the activities needed to meet the project’s objectives and the resources required to carry out these activities within the time allowed.
Please note: Phase 2 is mainly dedicated to the monitoring of the action plans. The activities to be carried out in phase 2 are predefined in the application form. So the related costs planned for phase 2 should be limited to those activities.
What supporting documents must be provided to justify preparation costs?
Project partners do not need to provide any justification or supporting documents for the preparation costs.
Preparation costs are fixed to a lump sum of EUR 15,000 for all approved projects (EUR 12,750 in ERDF - 85%, and EUR 7,500 in Norwegian funding - 50%). This amount will be automatically included in the lead partner’s budget at the application stage and it will be automatically added to the reported lead partner’s expenditure in the first progress report. Nevertheless, the partnership should share the preparation costs in a fair and transparent way, reflecting the partners’ involvement in the preparation of the application form. The details on how the preparation costs will be shared need to be included in the partnership agreement.
Policy learning platforms
Who are the experts behind the platforms and how are they recruited?
A European call for tenders will be launched to select a team of experts to support the platform work. The team of experts will gather different kind of expertise needed to deliver the platform services: for example, thematic specialisation in all policy fields covered by the platforms, experience in EU Cohesion policy, knowledge management and communication competences, moderation and facilitation of learning skills and so on. This team can consist of consultancy companies, individual experts, regional authorities, agencies and so on.
Is the use of the programme platforms mandatory for projects?
Partners in interregional cooperation projects should be actively involved in the work of the platforms during the lifetime of their project. They should contribute to the platforms' content and share their knowledge and experience. For instance, each region participating in a project has to feed in the platforms' interactive online interface interesting and innovative practices developed in their region. They should also add a contact person for their specific policy field in order to create a community of regional practitioners throughout Europe.
How to budget the participation of my project in the platform activities?
We recommend that each project foresees participation in two platform events per year, each time with the participation of two people (for example one representative of the lead partner and one representative of another project partner). Participation in the platform activities will be required during both phases of the project. The corresponding staff, travel and accommodation expenses should therefore be budgeted.
Is it allowed to use other already structured thematic online platforms?
Yes, it is. Each project can decide on activities and tools to use for the exchange of experience. Participation in another platform, if relevant for the exchange of experience, could be of added value for the policy learning process.