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  • Community Initiative concerning trans-European cooperation intended to encourage harmonious and balanced development of the European territory INTERREG 3, 2000 - 2006

Previous programme


Programme funding

EUR 4,88 million
Strengthen cross-border cooperation, in particular between non-adjacent regions, to promote balanced development and European integration.


On 21 June 1999, the Council has adopted a package of new Structural Funds regulations, known as the Agenda 2000, for the 2000-2006 programming period. The new regulation is based on the concentration of the structural actions on three priorities and the reduction in the number of Community Initiatives from 13 to 4.

The new initiatives contained in Agenda 2000 are the following:

_INTERREG, which aims to stimulate cross-border, transnational and inter-regional cooperation;
_LEADER, which promotes rural development through the initiatives of local action groups;
_EQUAL, which provides for the development of new ways of combating all forms of discrimination and inequality as regards access to the labour market;
_URBAN, which encourages the economic and social regeneration of towns, cities and suburbs in crisis.

INTERREG 3 is established by the Council Regulation (EC) No 1260/1999 of 21 June 1999 laying down general provisions on the Structural Funds.
Continuing the approach developed under INTERREG 2 and INTERREG 2C during the 1994-99 period, INTERREG 3’s aim is to strengthen economic and social cohesion in the Community by the implementation of actions in relation to the borders and borders areas between Member States and between the Community and third countries. In this context, particular attention will be given to:

_ the external borders of the Community, in particular in relation to enlargement;
_ Cooperation concerning the outermost regions of the Community;
_ Cooperation to further the peace process begun in the Balkans;
_ And cooperation concerning insular regions.


Building on the experience of the previous INTERREG Initiatives, INTERREG 3 will be based on three strands:

_ Strand A: promoting integrated regional development between neighbouring border regions, including external borders and certain maritime borders. This strand is concerned with the following topics:

- Promoting urban, rural and coastal development;
- Encouraging entrepreneurship and the development of small firms (including those in the tourism sector) and local employment initiatives;
- Promoting the integration of the labour market and social inclusion;
- Sharing human resources and facilities for research, technological development, education, culture, communications and health to increase productivity and help create sustainable jobs;
- Encouraging the protection of the environment (local, global), increase energy efficiency and promote renewable sources of energy;
- Improving transport (particularly measures implementing more environmentally-friendly forms of transport), information and communication networks and services and water and energy systems;
- Developing co-operation in the legal and administrative spheres to promote economic development and social cohesion;
- Increasing human and institutional potential for cross-border cooperation to promote economic development and social cohesion.

_ Strand B: contributing to harmonious territorial integration across the Community. Support will be provided to:

- Elaborate operational spatial development strategies on a transnational scale, including co-operation among cities and between urban and rural areas, with a view to promoting polycentric and sustainable development;
- Promote efficient and sustainable transport systems and improved access to the information society;
- Promote the environment and the good management of cultural heritage and of natural resources, in particular water resources;
- Contribute to the integration between maritime regions, and of insular regions, each through a specific priority with an appropriate financial allocation;
- Promote the integrated cooperation of the outermost regions.

_ Strand C: improving regional development and cohesion policies and techniques through transnational/interregional cooperation. This is by far the smallest strand financially. This strand covers cooperation actions related to specific topics to be defined by the Commission, such as research, technological development and SMEs, the information society, tourism, culture and employment, entrepreneurship and environment, etc.
Particular attention should be paid to participation by the insular and most remote regions and the applicant countries in the various networks. Cooperation, even at bilateral level, between maritime regions will be encouraged.


INTERREG 3 Community Initiative will be jointly financed by the Member States and the Community.
It will be governed by the following principles:

_ Joint cross-border/transnational strategy and development programme,
_ Partnership and a bottom up approach,
_ Complementarity with the mainstream of the Structural Funds,
_ A more integrated approach to the implementation of the Community Initiatives,
_ Effective coordination between INTERREG 3 and external Community policy instruments, especially with a view to enlargement.

Those eligible under INTERREG 3 are the following:

_ Strand A:

- all areas along the internal and external land borders of the Community delineated at administrative level III of the Nomenclature of Territorial Statistical Units (NUTS III), as listed in Annex I;
- certain maritime areas delineated at administrative level III of the Nomenclature of Territorial Statistical Units (NUTS III), as listed in Annex I,
- in special cases funding may be granted to measures in NUTS III areas adjoining those areas at NUTS III level referred to above or areas surrounded by such areas, provided that they do not account for more than 20 per cent of the total expenditure of the CIP concerned. Areas where this flexibility is to be used must be indicated in the appropriate Community Initiative Programme.

_ Strand B:

Eligible areas are made up of the groupings of regions indicated in Annex III.
These groupings are based on the areas already covered by existing INTERREG 2 C programmes and Article 10 pilot actions concerning spatial planning, adjusted to take account of experience to date. On this basis, Member States and their regions may submit to the Commission duly justified requests for modifications to these groupings.

_ Strand C:

The whole of the Community is eligible.

On the basis of indicative financial allocations per Member State established by the Commission specifying the margins of flexibility between the strands, Member States will make a breakdown of funding by strand, border and region, as appropriate. In so doing, the Member States will ensure an appropriate balance of funding on the two sides of the borders, taking account of the financing available.
The proposals will be prepared by joint cross-border or transnational committees or other bodies constituted by the relevant regional/local and national authorities and, where appropriate, the relevant non-governmental partners.
Proposals may be presented separately for each strand. However, if deemed appropriate by the partners, programmes may cover all three strands A, B and C whilst specifying the priorities, measures and joint structures for each strand.

The Programme monitoring will be carried out by the Programme Monitoring Committee. The Commission will assure coordination between INTERREG 3 and ERDF, PHARE, TACIS, MEDA, EDF, SAPARD and ISPA.


The budget allocated during the period 2000-2006 is fixed at EUR 4 875 million, at 1999 prices.
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