Article - Structural Funds

European Territorial Cooperation (ETC)


European Territorial Cooperation forms part of EU cohesion policy and as such places a key focus not on investment, but on cooperation. It seeks to help people from different Member States get to know each other. The goal is

  • for people to communicate, work, conduct research, learn, teach, meet and live together across borders.
  • for children living in the border region between two Member States to go to the same kindergarten, to play together, make friends, learn together, and grow up bilingual.
  • for students, university lecturers and researchers to work together at European universities on projects paving the way for a joint future.
  • for entrepreneurs, start-ups and small and medium-sized enterprises to work together across Europe to successfully bring new, innovative products and services to market.
  • for representatives of the public authorities of border regions to set the policy framework needed to improve local public transport for the population and thus drive mobility in the region.

Challenges do not stop at borders between individual Member States or regions. They need to be addressed by developing joint solutions and making sure that these are tailored to the needs of a particular region. It is only by working together that such solutions can be found. However, it is up to each individual Member State to decide whether it wants to implement the solution on its own or by working with others.

European Territorial Cooperation focuses on cross-border, transnational and inter-regional projects. Funding for the implementation of these projects is available under the EU’s cooperation programmes. These programmes are being funded partly by the project partners and partly from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). In the 2014-2020 funding period, Germany will receive €0.9 billion (current prices) from the ERDF for the purpose of conducting cooperation projects.

Cross-border cooperation under Interreg V-A aims at promoting the development of regions that share a border with one another, for example Germany and Poland. Border regions are often marked by different languages, a lack of cross-border transport links and of targeted structural policy action, creating not only opportunities, but also challenges for these regions. Cross-border funding programmes aim to reduce weaknesses and to strengthen economic and social development.

The EU currently has more than 60 funding programmes dedicated to cross-border cooperation. Germany is involved in 13 of these programmes.

More information about the individual programmes can be found under the links listed below.

Cross-border programmes between
Germany (North Rhine-Westphalia, Lower Saxony) and the Neteherlands
Brandenburg and Poland
Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Brandenburg and Poland
Saxony and Poland
Saxony and Czech Republic
Bavaria and Czech Republic
Bavaria and Austria
Germany, Poland, Sweden, Denmark and Lithuania (South Baltic)
Germany (Schleswig-Holstein) and Denmark
Germany, France, Luxemburg and Belgium (Greater Region)
Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Liechtenstein (Alpenrhein-Bodensee-Hochrhein)
Germany, France, Luxemburg and Belgium (Upper Rhine)
Germany, the Netherland and Belgium (Euregio Maas-Rhein)

Examples of projects

Upper Rhine cooperation programme: Funding was provided for a cross-border kindergarten in Strasbourg that is open to both German and French-speaking children. This kindergarten has proved to be a great success for the region, helping not only to increase the number of urgently needed childcare places, but also to promote intercultural exchange and bilingualism.

Transnational cooperation under Interreg V-B aims at promoting economic development and cooperation in regions from several countries of the EU forming bigger areas. Member States forming bigger areas need to have some geographic connection, for example a mountain range (such as the Alps) or a body of water (such as the North or Baltic Sea). Under Interreg V-B, Member States are to take joint action to boost growth and innovation, to reduce CO2 emissions, promote renewable energy, and improve transport infrastructure across the wider region.

Germany is part of 15 of such European areas that work together. More information about the individual programmes can be found under the links listed below.

Cross-border programmes in
the Baltic Sea Region
the Northern Sea Region
North-West Europe
the Alpine Space
Central Europa
the Danube Region

Examples of projects

Central Europe: Under the ELLA project, information and data about the risk of flooding in different areas of the Elbe river basin area have been analysed and presented in the form of a map. People living in the Elbe region can use this map to easily and quickly identify the severity of the risk of flooding for their residential property and take protective measures if needed.

North-West Europe: Under the I-Stay@home project, companies from Germany, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, and the UK are conducting a study looking at how technology can help elderly people and people with physical impairments to live a self-determined life at home.

Inter-regional cooperation focuses on regional development across the whole of the EU. Consequently, all 28 European Member States are eligible for funding under the Interreg Europe, Interact,ESPON and URBACT programmes.

  • ESPON is an spatial development programme and serves as a network for spatial policy players in Europe.
  • URBACT aims at promoting the exchange of knowledge between European cities on policies for sustainable urban development.

The Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy is involved in the Interact and Interreg Europe programmes.

  • Interact provides the 28 Member States with support for implementing and enforcing the European cooperation programmes. Under Interact, access is provided to the KEEP database that lists all of the projects that are receiving funding. Also, an electronic monitoring system (eMS) has been made available. This can be used for submitting and editing applications for project funding or for filing reports and conducting evaluations. Interact also helps programme managers exchange information with one another through a range of different courses, workshops and seminars.
  • Interreg Europe aims at helping regional authorities work more effectively. Authorities from different regions across Europe are to network and learn from one another, to share ideas, experiences and best practices. In addition to the 28 Member States of the EU, Norway and Switzerland are also part of Interreg Europe.
C programmes

A European Grouping of Territorial Cooperation (EGTC) is a group of partners who have joined together to work on shared cross-border goals. By establishing the EGTC scheme, the European Commission has created an additional instrument designed to promote cross-border territorial cooperation.


  • is an independent legal person and acts on behalf of its members,
  • sets out its tasks and competencies in a convention,
  • establishes statutes which govern its administrative and financial rules
  • has an assembly (which is made up of representatives of its members), and a director who represents the European Grouping of Territorial Cooperation and acts on its behalf.

Germany is currently involved in nine EGTCs, two of which have their headquarters in Germany.

EGTCHeadquartersMember States
Strasbourg-Ortenau EGTCStrasbourg, FranceFrance, Germany
INTERREG 'Greater Region' programme EGTCMetz, FranceFrance, Germany, Luxembourg, Belgium
Saarmoselle eurodistrictSarreguemines, FranceFrance, Germany
European Urban Knowledge Network LimitedThe Hague, NetherlandsThe Netherlands, Belgium, Cyprus, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Hungary, Luxembourg, Romania
Summit Secretariat of the Greater Region EGTCLuxembourgLuxembourg, Belgium, Germany, France
Interregional Alliance for the Rhine-Alpine Corridor EGTCMannheim, GermanyGermany, the Netherlands
EUCOR – European CampusFreiburg, GermanyGermany, Austria, Switzerland
PAMINA eurodistrict EGTCLauterbourg, FranceGermany, France


The EUCOR – European Campus EGTC is the result of long-standing cooperation between the universities of Freiburg, Basel, Strasbourg, Haute-Alsace and the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology. The EGTC aims at expanding and strengthening the existing network between the universities and encouraging cooperation between the research institutes in order to promote research and teaching without undermining the independence of the individual universities. Students, researchers and postgraduates can use all of the universities’ research facilities across borders, they can network, exchange knowledge and work on projects together.

For more information about the EGTCs, plese click here.