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EU Social Economy Gateway
European Territorial Cooperation - INTERREG

Overall budget available

The total budget of Interreg 2021-2027 is €10 billion for 86 programmes.

What is the goal of the funding programme?

Interreg is one of the two objectives of EU Cohesion policy, and it is financed under the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

Interreg is a key instrument of the EU providing a framework for cooperation across borders between national, regional, and local actors from different Member States (including EEA countries) with the objective of promoting harmonious economic, social and territorial development of the Union as a whole. Interreg also supports cooperation between partners from EU Member States and non-EU members neighbouring countries, under the Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA) and the Neighbourhood, Development and International Cooperation Instrument (NDICI).

These funding programmes invite the partners to find shared solutions and facilitate the implementation of joint actions and policy exchanges. Interreg supports the twin green and digital transition and operates in fields such as health, environment, research, education, transport, sustainable energy and more.

Thanks to its place-based and local-level approach, Interreg also contributes to trust building between communities, notably thanks to measures such as the Small Project Fund and people-to-people projects.

How is the funding programme structured?

Interreg is organised in four strands:

Like other ERDF programmes, Interreg programmes are implemented under shared-management by the Member States and the European Commission, involving a number of different bodies responsible for administering the programme and assisting projects.

What thematic areas are covered?

All Interreg streams of action contribute to the objectives of the social economy:

  • Cross-border cooperation (Interreg Strand A):

With a budget of 6.5 billion EUR, dozens of cross-border programmes are implemented within the EU’s internal and external borders to support cooperation and turn border obstacles into opportunities. It also contributes to the enlargement policy of the EU.

  • Transnational cooperation (Interreg Strand B):

15 transnational programmes bring together European regions and cities that are located in different countries yet are sharing many challenges and opportunities due to their common geography, history, and culture. In transnational projects, partners from the private and public sectors, and civil society work closely together on solutions to the most pressing needs of the concerned areas and their populations. Interreg B supports a wide range of project investments and soft measures related to innovation, twin transition, accessibility, social challenges, territorial development, governance and support to macro-regional strategies amongst other topics.

  • Interregional cooperation (Interreg Strand C):

Interregional cooperation works at pan-European level, covering all EU Member States and third countries. It builds networks to develop good practices and facilitate the exchange and transfer of experience by successful regions. It is a tool to strengthen cohesion and overcome present and future challenges. This strand covers 4 interregional cooperation programmes - INTERREG EUROPE, INTERACT, URBACT and ESPON - sharing the objective to increase the capacity of policy-makers to develop and implement better regional policies.

Interreg Europe: through its two pillars, Interreg Europe supports the development of the social economy across Europe:

(1) a Policy Learning Platform to facilitate policy learning and capitalise on good practices on an ongoing basis and under any area of Cohesion policy.

(2) yearly calls for cooperation projects open to public authorities to team up with partners from other countries to build capacities in relation to any policy instrument under any area of Cohesion policy.

  • Outermost regions programmes (Interreg Strand D):

These programmes help those regions to cooperate with neighbouring countries. Strand D concerns 5 geographical areas:

  • Amazonia
  • Caribbean
  • Middle Atlantic/Gulf of Guinea (MAC)
  • Indian Ocean
  • Mozambique Channel

Strand D programmes cover a number of priorities such as innovation and research, competitiveness, environment, mobility of people, health, etc. These programmes are opened to a variety of public and private actors, including from the social economy.

What is in it for the social economy?

Interreg was developed to boost cross-border, transnational and interregional cooperation in view of reducing territorial inequalities in Europe. Recently, more resources have been dedicated to climate actions and to social initiatives. Small-scale projects are now increasingly financed too.  A growing number of projects involve and/or focus on social economy organisations, in particular social enterprises and work integrating social enterprises (WISEs).

Social economy organisations willing to engage in cross-border activities and eager to collaborate with local authorities should take a look at the diverse possibilities Interreg programmes can offer.

Who is eligible to apply?

Each Interreg programme launches calls for projects reflecting its own objectives and priorities.

Eligibility of applicants therefore differs between calls and programmes. Potential beneficiaries are usually public authorities, interest associations and non-profit organisations, such as chambers of commerce, employer organisations, unions or research institutes as well as private bodies (SMEs for example).

How to apply?

You will find all the information needed to know how to apply under an Interreg programme:

Where to find more information?

  • Find a comprehensive explanation of INTERREG programmes with the official webpage:
  • Get inspired or find calls with the interactive map: Interreg Programmes portal
  • Check out the database of Interreg projects:
  • Consult concise and clear information on the REGIO webpage: Inforegio
  • And find the Interreg factsheet here.

Organisations who provide support?

Interreg programmes are implemented under the responsibility of Managing Authorities, which are public authorities. A Joint Secretariat staffed with different nationalities provides operational support to the Managing Authority to run the programme. It also provides guidance and information to all stakeholders in the programme territory.

Background information

History of the programme

In 1990, Interreg was developed as a Community Initiative with a budget of only EUR 1 billion covering exclusively cross-border cooperation. Later, Interreg was extended to transnational, interregional cooperation and a specific strand was created to support Outermost Regions.

Responsible Directorate-General in the European Commission

The Directorate-General for Regional and Urban Policy (DG REGIO) is responsible for the management of the European Union’s regional policy and funds.

The European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Region are associated to the management of Interreg implementation.


2021 - 2027