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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.

What is the best way to find or become a partner in Interreg Europe projects?

partner search tool is available on this 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.

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 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. 

An additional compulsory rule has been introduced for the fourth call concerning the geographical coverage. While the programme has always encouraged projects with a broad geographical coverage, this rather vague notion is now translated in a clear rule. The eligibility area of the programme (27 EU countries, Switzerland, Norway and the United Kingdom) has been split into four geographical areas. In order to be eligible, your project partnership needs to include at least one partner from at least three of the four areas. 

Also, you should avoid focusing on existing transnational or cross-border cooperation areas. Such proposals bring only limited added value to Interreg Europe, the only programme covering the whole territory of the EU.

The balanced geographical coverage should also be reflected in financial terms. The budget allocation should in principle be balanced between countries, including between a group of geographically close countries and the other represented countries. In the same spirit, the added-value of involving several regions from the same country in a project should be explained in the application form.

'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-27 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-27 average). For more information, please check the map provided by the European Commission.

Can two partners from the same country be involved in a project?

As the Interreg Europe programme covers all EU countries plus Norway and Switzerland, project applicants are invited to take advantage of this opportunity to benefit from the most diverse experiences from across Europe. It is possible, however, to involve partners from the same country if it is justified.

Could organisations from third countries be part of the partnership? And could these entities be beneficiaries of funding?

Third countries are countries which do not take part directly in the Interreg Europe programme - countries other than the EU27, Norway, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.

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.

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.

What kind of organisation can become lead partner? Can an advisory partner be a lead partner?

Any eligible organisation can become a lead partner of Interreg Europe project, be it a 'normal' partner or an advisory partner. The only exceptions are private non-profit bodies and Swiss partners.

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.

Please note that in Interreg Europe projects, private non-profit bodies cannot take on the role of a lead partner.

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 (see more on advisory partner's budget in the Project finances and administration section). That distinguishes them from external experts.

It should be noted that a 'normal' partner can also support other partners in a specific field of competence. However, on the contrary to 'normal' partners, advisory partners do not address a policy instrument and do not need to develop an action plan.

Is it possible to have more than one advisory partner in our partnership?

It is recommended not to involve more than one advisory partner in a project. Should this recommendation not be followed, a very clear justification would be needed.

The programme makes various recommendations regarding the partnership (e.g. size of partnership, geographical origin…). Is it allowed not to follow some of those recommendations?

Yes, it is possible. However, those recommendations are based on experience and aim at guiding project applicants to set up a successful partnership. Project applicants who decide not to follow Interreg Europe recommendations are expected to justify their decision in the application form, since the programme recommendations are taken into account during the assessment of the project applications.

Can my organisation take part in more than one Interreg Europe project?

Yes, it is possible to take part in several Interreg Europe projects from the same call or from different calls, as partner, lead partner or advisory partner.

However, the organisation that wants to be involved in more than one project has to justify in the application form that it has the capacities to do so. Participation in an interregional cooperation project is a demanding task and the participation of the same institution in several projects may not be realistic. Applicants should select the projects that best fit their need and territorial context. The participation of  a small organisation in numerous applications can call its seriousness and credibility into question. In case of approval, it would also increase the risk of double funding.