The 2021 edition of “Europe, let's cooperate!” interregional cooperation forum was held online on 24-25 November. More than 700 people followed the launch of the 2021-2027 Interreg Europe programme. The only pan-European funding program (including Norway and Switzerland but excluding the UK) remains a capacity building program. With a slightly increased budget, broader thematic areas, simplified procedures and calls ready to be launched in the spring.
If you missed the online event, session recordings are now available. The presentation slides from the online speakers and links to further details are also available in the Interreg Europe website.
On the first day, Interreg Europe officers celebrated a very successful 2014-2020 programme with 720 policy changes and a 5.9x leverage effect with 1 327 million euros mobilized in local funds. The previous programme included 2000 institutions, disseminated in 90% of the EU regions, who identified 4250 Good Practices. 2500 of them were validated in their policy leaning platform.
The future Interreg Europe Programme
The project structure will remain more or less the same with only slight changes in the programme, but broader thematic areas. Now, every project will be under one big cross-cutting priority on capacity building with six sub-topics (smart, green, connected, social, citizens, governance), opening the possibility for a lot of new subjects. The new programme focusses on the high priorities of the EU Commission with 80% of the budget to be spent on the Smarter and Greener Europe and under parts of More Social Europe (where Cultural Tourism is included).
The goal is as always to identify, analyse and transfer good practices from regions to regions. As the previous programme, Interreg Europe is primary dedicated to policy makers and focused on exchange of experiences, innovative approach, and capacity building.
Still focusing on the implementation of the structural funds programme, the rules become more flexible with more room for pilot actions (that can be implemented from the start or at mid-term of the project) and at least one instrument per project must be an investment for jobs and growth programme.
Projects will cover 2 phases over 4-year of project implementation with a core phase of 3 years for exchange of experience and a follow-up phase of 1-year to monitor policy improvements. We can expect more flexibility and easier management between the phases, but action plans still need to be implemented in the follow-up phase only for the regions that didn’t implement policy improvement.
Who can enter the projects?
The eligible institutions remain the same: public authorities and non-profit organisations with no direct funds available for private entities, but they can be involved as stakeholders. The partners organisations should oversee policies in their territory.
The Interreg Europe programme is also welcoming associated partners without budget, without budget but the possibility of travel costs covered by project partners.
A geographical balance between the four zones of the programme area (north, east, south, west) is advised. Right now, 62% of the projects are covering 4 areas.
Calls are ready to be launched in the spring
Global budget. The programme budget increases to 334 million euro and 1 to 2 million per project! With a rate of 80% for public authorities and 70% for non-profit organisations.
Timeline. The programme is internally finalized since June 2021 but is under approval from the Member States and the commission. The first calls are expected to be launched on the first semester 2022 (likely spring with an approval in autumn). It will be a short call with a one-phase process for selection. Interreg Europe officers are advising to start preparing right now: « the time for project proposal starts now ».
Simplified financial rules. Like the Alpine Space programme, the travel costs are now a flat rate based on 15% of the staff cost, like the admin costs. A new budget line for infrastructure and works was created, to be differentiate from the one for equipment. The preparation of the selected project will be financed with lump sum up to 17500 €.
The policy Learning Platform. Their policy helpdesk and the mechanism for exchange of good practice very similar to our own knowledge hub. A new Interreg Europe website is expected for early 2022 with better navigation, a self-assessment tool to check the validity of your partnership and a lot of tools and feedback for your program application.
Next step: April 5th 2022
The next edition of #europecooperates will be back for a new edition on 5 April 2022. At that point, it'll be time to discuss the first call for project proposals. You are invited to share your views and contribute to shaping the path towards the next edition through a questionnaire.
NECSTouR project hub on Interreg programmes
NECSTouR members are invited to contact NECSTouR secretariat if they are interested in creating a project for the programme or to join existing consortiums. Other Interreg programmes covered include Interreg Alpine Space, Interreg Euro-MED, Interreg Northern Periphery and Arctic (NPA), Interreg Central Europe and Interreg North-West Europe. After the programme presentation, some organisations had the chances to share their project ideas.
Sustainable Tourism in Riverside Cities
More than 30 people attended the virtual session to exchange ideas on two project presentations from Star Cities Lead Partner, Val-de-Marne Tourisme, on Sustainable Tourism in Riverside Cities. If you are interested, do not hesitate to contact NECSTouR. We will keep you updated very soon.
So far, the following project ideas have been discussed:
- What are the technical solutions to help river tourism turn green? How regional authorities and tourism boards can support the private sector in this important transition? For example, with boat cruises, soft mobility, intramodality, etc.
- How to create and valorise a Water and River Culture in Europe? What are the (hi)stories of locals regarding the river and how it can be highlighted to be part of the destination storytelling?
Tourism in Balance
Breda University also took advantage to present ideas regarding Tourism in Balance.
The aim of the project is to prevent/recover the damage to the environment and society caused by over-tourism by developing new tourism strategies (choices, policies, and measures) that match the challenges and needs of the participating partners and that can serve as an example for other destinations in Europe.
Breda University is looking for interested NECSTouR members. NESTouR is in contact with the presenter of this project.