European Territorial Cooperation/ INTERREG

General context

European territorial cooperation (formerly INTERREG) is one of the objectives of the EU Regional/Cohesion Policy. The main goal of European territorial cooperation is to encourage cooperation among various territorial units in order to stimulate equal economic, social and cultural development of the European Union, as well as of the neighbouring countries. This cooperation consists of three main segments:

  • Cross-border cooperation programmes (segment A)
  • Transnational cooperation programmes (segment B), and
  • Inter-regional cooperation programme (segment C).

Depending on the segment, the cooperation programmes include the EU member states, EU candidate states, potential EU candidate states, and other countries neighbouring the European Union. Implementation of programmes and projects is supported by the EU structural funds (namely European Regional Development Fund – ERDF), pre-accession funds (in the current period Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance – IPA II), Neighbourhood funds (in the current period European Neighbourhood Instrument - ENI), as well as national funds of the states participating in the project.

In the period 1989-2006, three INTERREG programme cycles were implemented: INTERREG I (1989-1993), INTERREG II (1994-1999) and INTERREG III (2000-2006). Even though certain Serbian experts took part in the implementation of several projects within the Programme INTERREG IIС, institutionalized participation of Serbian partners was made possible only in the course of implementation of the INTERREG III programme, and only in segments А (as a Neighbourhood Programme between Hungary and Serbia, Romania and Serbia, and Bulgaria and Serbia with the assistance of the CARDS instrument), and B (also assisted by the CARDS instrument). Programme INTERREG III В encompassed 13 transnational areas of cooperation, with the CADSES (Central, Adriatic, Danubian and South-Eastern European Space) area as the largest and the most complex one, especially from the standpoint of Euro-integrations. Here, Serbia was included together with Montenegro within the State Union. In the period 2007-2013, cross-border cooperation programmes which included the territory of Serbia were conducted within six programmes: Serbia-Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria-Serbia, Hungary-Serbia, Romania-Serbia, Serbia-Croatia, and Serbia-Montenegro. The former transnational CADSES area has been divided into two transnational areas of cooperation in the period 2007-2013: Central Europe and South East Europe (in which Serbia could participate). New transnational cooperation areas have been created in the current period 2014-2020, Serbia being eligible in two of them: Danube Programme 2014-2020 and Adriatic-Ionian Programme 2014-2020. Apart from the six cross-border cooperation programmes established in the period 2007-2013, a new cross-border programme between Serbia and FYR of Macedonia is expected to be launched in the current programme period 2014-2020.

The INTERREG Programme generated other special programmes, such as the European Spatial Planning Observation Network – ESPON (today European Observation Network for Territorial Development and Cohesion) which brings together the most prominent national professional and scientific-research organizations, with the aim to monitor implementation of EU spatial development policies, compose spatial development scenarios, conduct spatial impact analysis of the EU sectoral policies, and propose new policies and solutions on the European Commission level. Simultaneously with the establishment of ESPON, within the INTERREG initiative, the INTERACT Programme was established with the aim to assist synchronization of various INTERREG Projects.

A new legal instrument for the promotion of cross-border, transnational and interregional cooperation was introduced in 2006 - European Grouping of Territorial Cooperation (EGTC). Based on the establishment of Euroregions as legal entities, this instrument enables partners to provide common services without obligation for states to sign international agreements. Partners within the EGTC may be EU Member States, regional and local authorities, associations and other institutions in the public sector. Serbia, for now, may have an observer status with the ability to participate in joint projects, as in the case of EGTC and Bánát - Triplex Confinium .

Apart from institutionalized cooperation programmes, which imply administrative procedures, allocation and control of use of funds, eх-ante and eх-post evaluation, at the European Union level there is also the institute of informal meetings of ministers in charge of spatial planning, with the three umbrella documents important for spatial planning within the EU adopted so far - European Spatial Development Perspective - ESDP (1999), Territorial Agenda of the European Union – Towards a More Competitive and Sustainable Europe of Diverse Regions (2007) and Territorial Agenda of the European Union 2020 - Towards an Inclusive, Smart and Sustainable Europe of Diverse Regions (2011)

Individual programmes

Having in mind the complexity of the European spatial/territorial cooperation programmes, each of them was described separately as follows:


The Republic Agency for Spatial Planning has taken part in implementation of the following European spatial/territorial cooperation projects:

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