European Territorial Cooperation

The European Community’s Interreg III initiative from 2000-2006 created the foundation for a new economic and social cohesion policy objective that carries the name European Territorial Cooperation (ETC) and is implemented via cross-border, transnational and interregional forms of cooperation and two networking programmes: ESPON 2013 (European Spatial Planning Observatory Network) and INTERACT II (programme for sharing cross-border, interregional and transnational cooperation experience).

The cross-border cooperation operational programmes always pertain to the NUTS III border regions that neighbour regions in other Member States. For the Czech Republic, there is an operational programme (OP) for cross-border cooperation with Poland, Saxony, Bavaria, Austria and Slovakia.
The Interregional Cooperation operational programme is common for all EU Member States as well as for Norway and Switzerland.  The ESPON 2013 and INTERACT II networking programmes are also intended for all EU members.
For the Transnational Cooperation programme, the EU is divided up into a number of zones, with the Czech Republic belonging to the Central European Zone; we, therefore, share a Transnational OP with Austria, Poland, part of Germany, Hungary, Slovenia, Slovakia, part of Italy and, of the non-EU Member States, part of Ukraine.
For the cross-border and Transnational Cooperation programmes, € 389 million has been earmarked for the Czech Republic.  In the case of other programmes of the European Territorial Cooperation objective, the budget comprises contributions from the EU funds and the participating states.   The budget for the programmes is common for all Member States and there is no allocation of resources from EU funds for individual countries.   € 321.3 million has been earmarked for the Interregional Cooperation OP from the EU funds, € 34 million for the ESPON 2013 OP and € 34 million for the INTERACT II OP.

What projects can be financed from the operational programmes of the European Territorial Cooperation objective?

The operational programmes are now being assessed by the European Commission. The following examples of supported projects have to be seen as non-binding, as the operational programmes may still undergo modification based on comments from the European Commission.

  • OP Cross-Border Cooperation

OP Cross-Border Cooperation CR - Bavaria
OP Cross-Border Cooperation CR-Poland
OP Cross-Border Cooperation CR-Austria
OP Cross-Border Cooperation CR-Saxony
OP Cross-Border Cooperation CR-Slovakia

These are independent documents administered by independent Managing Authorities; they focus on, for example, the following topics: common development and improvement of access to information and communication technologies; construction and development of border infrastructure and connection of the border regions to important cross-border transport axes; cooperation in the field of research and development, education, and innovation; cooperation in connection with the integration of disabled persons back into society; promotion of an effective system of cross-border fire and flood prevention and disaster protection; construction of waste water treatment plants; reinforcement of environmental education; protection and renovation of monuments; development of bicycle routes and paths, equestrian paths, tourist paths, and ski slopes and trails; establishment and operation of tourist information centres; promotion of cross-border cooperation in the field of development of human relations, social, cultural and leisure time activities; and so on.

All activities supported in the framework of the OP Cross-border Cooperation are co-financed from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and these are investment (infrastructure) projects.

For example: exchange of experience in connection with restructuring regions dependent on traditional industry; promotion of information and communication technologies; cooperation in the field of financial assistance to small and medium enterprises; improvement of regional employment policy, professional development, training and education; exchange of experience with crisis planning; exchange and transfer of knowledge of an integrated and sustainable approach to river management; development of guidelines for integrated local waste management; exchange  and transfer of knowledge to improve energy efficiency in the transport sector; development and exchange of a common strategy for promoting cultural assets; and so on.

For example: construction of a central European knowledge centre for key areas of competency; cooperation of incubators in regions with declining industry; cost-impact studies with respect to high-speed corridors in Central Europe; valuation of public transport systems in small and medium-size towns; a common transnational strategy for waste management; creation of a transnational project for integrated flood-related risk management; preparation of investments for energy saving measures in large-scale housing estates; platform for cooperation between cities in connection with the preparation of investment into strategic competency areas in cities (e.g., biotechnological clusters, science parks, etc.); social centre projects for the preparation of investments in mobile regional services (health care, services for senior citizens, etc.); administration and management of cultural heritage; promotion of cultural values in larger regions; etc.

This programme focuses on dissemination of knowledge, experience and other outputs of cross-border, transnational and interregional cooperation.  The programme also provides space for discussion about cross-border and transnational regional development strategies and ensuring the transfer of innovations. The target groups are European institutions and bodies organising European territorial cooperation programmes, i.e., cross-border, interregional and transnational cooperation programme authorities (e.g., the Managing Authorities, Certifying Authorities, Joint Technical Secretariats).

The programme serves to obtain and update information about the development of regions and the impact of execution of EU policies on the regions; provide technical, methodological and analytical support in the spatial planning process; and provide access to special development databases and indicators.  It provides feedback on the results of the ESPON programme in practice, etc. through seminars, publications and workshops. 

The URBACT II Operational Programme is a programme of the European Commission Initiative “Regions for Economic Change” under Objective 3 of European Territorial Cooperation financed from the European Regional Development Fund. 
In the 2007-2013 programming period, the URBACT II OP is intended for the exchange and acquisition of experience amongst cities of the EU Member States in connection with the preparation and implementation of projects related to urban development.  The primary objective of the programme is to make policies and strategies more effective in order to achieve sustainable and integrated urban development with regard to the application of the Lisbon and Gothenburg Strategies.
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Non-investment projects are supported under the Transnational and Interregional Cooperation OPs and the ESPON 2013 and INTERACT II OP. 

The list of supported activities is only indicative; in the case of the Transnational Cooperation OP, it may differ with respect to the various cross-border programmes. For this reason, it is important to review in advance the terms and conditions of the OP under which a project is to be implemented, which includes verification of who is defined as a possible aid beneficiary with respect to the type of supported activity.
For more information about cross-border cooperation operational programmes, contact the appropriate Managing Authorities.  For more information about Transnational and Interregional Cooperation OPs and the ESPON 2013 and INTERACT II OPs, contact the respective Contact point in the Czech Republic.