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Frequently Asked Questions

Below we have collected the most frequently asked questions (FAQ) by our applicants. 

Interreg CENTRAL EUROPE is a funding programme of the EU Cohesion Policy objective “European Territorial Cooperation”. In the 2021-27 period the programme will co-finance transnational projects that cooperate towards a smarter, greener, better connected and better integrated central Europe. Funds come from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

The programme covers an area of more than one million square kilometres at the heart of Europe, and is home to roughly a third of the EU population  (about 148 million of inhabitants in 2019).

Nine EU member states cooperate in the Interreg CENTRAL EUROPE Programme, including all regions from Austria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, eight Länder and one region from Germany (Baden-Württemberg, Bayern, Berlin, Brandenburg, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Sachsen, Sachsen-Anhalt, Thüringen, and the Braunschweig region within Niedersachsen), and nine regions from Italy (Emilia-Romagna, Friuli Venezia Giulia, Liguria, Lombardia, Piemonte, the autonomous provinces of Bolzano/Bozen and Trento, Valle d’Aosta, and Veneto).

In total the programme area is made up of 81 NUTS-2 regions and in the 2021-27 period it is extended by Braunschweig region in Germany.

The programme vision is a united central Europe that cooperates - to become smarter, greener and better connected together. Based on shared needs and a common identity in an area long divided by the “Iron Curtain”, the programme aims for a trustful culture of cooperation beyond administrative borders.

The programme mission is to bring regions and cities together beyond borders to find fitting solutions for their citizens – in a fair and equal way everywhere. It encourages and supports transnational cooperation to make regions more resilient to common challenges that know no borders and which cannot be solved alone. These challenges include among others economic transition processes, climate change, and the long-term socioeconomic consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The foreseen programme budget for 2021-27 is EUR 224,6 million from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

The maximum ERDF co-financing will amount to 80% for project partners from all participating countries.

For partners from EU Member States that are not part of the programme area the maximum ERDF co-financing will also amount to 80% but has to be duly justified. Partners from outside the EU can participate as observers but cannot receive ERDF co-financing.

The main decision-making body of the programme is the Monitoring Committee (MC), which is composed of representatives of the nine central European programme countries. The Department for European Affairs of the City of Vienna is the Managing Authority (MA) and thus responsible for the operational management of the programme. It is supported by the Joint Secretariat (JS), an international bureau also located in Vienna, and by the Network of National Contact Points (NCPs) in the Member States.

On the transnational level, the Joint Secretariat (JS) offers a permanent helpdesk that can be reached during office hours by phone +43 (0) 1 8908 088 2403 and at helpdesk(at)interreg-central.eu.

On the national level, general guidance is provided by the network of National Contact Points (NCPs). It functions as a first point of contact for applicants seeking individual guidance.

Further information on the new  Interreg CENTRAL EUROPE Programme 2021-27 can be found on our website.

With this call, the Interreg CENTRAL EUROPE Programme aims to bring regions and cities together beyond borders to find fitting solutions for their citizens – in a fair and equal way everywhere. Our funding encourages and supports transnational cooperation to make regions more resilient to common challenges that know no borders and which cannot be solved alone.

The call timeline is organised in two phases.

  • Call preview: Between 24 June and 14 November 2021, we provided thematic information and a community matchmaking platform for applicants to exchange on ideas and develop partnerships.

  • Call opening and closure: The call officially opened in a one-step procedure on 15 November 2021. The call will close on 23 February 2022.

The call is open in all programme priorities and specific objectives (SOs).

Around EUR 72 million ERDF will be indicatively earmarked for the first call for proposals. The indicative amounts allocated to each priority in the first call will be:

  • Priority 1: EUR 22 million 
  • Priority 2: EUR 36 million
  • Priority 3: EUR 7 million
  • Priority 4: Eur 7 million 

The main reference source is the Interreg CENTRAL EUROPE Programme 2021-27 document (IP). The IP provides applicants with information regarding transnational challenges, funding priorities, specific funding objectives, expected results, examples of actions and much more.

The Programme Manual outlines the main rules, requirements and procedures for organisations that plan to apply for funding from the Interreg CENTRAL EUROPE programme and for beneficiaries of selected projects.

The Application Package comprises the Terms of Reference (ToR) for the first call, the off-line template of the application form, the lead partner and partner declaration templates and the simplified financial statement for private lead applicants.

All mentioned documents, along with related complementary tools, are available in the Documents section.

Applications can only be submitted through the newly developed "Joint electronic monitoring system" (Jems). Registration to the system and submission of project proposals will be possible at least three weeks before closure of the call (23 February 2022.)

The funding decision is expected towards the end 2022. However, this depends among others on the number of applications received.

More detailed information on the timing for the selection of project proposals will be published after the closure of the call.

Successful projects are expected to start with their activities still in 2022.

Our second call will be dedicated to Pioneer projects. This new kind of projects is expected to be highly innovative, test concrete solutions through pilot actions on a small scale or focus on new approaches to integrated territorial development. Such projects will have a smaller partnerships, a smaller budget and a shorter duration.

For more information about our second call regularly check our website or subscribe to our newsletter.

A transnational project brings together partners from at least three different countries to cooperate and find solutions for common challenges of the programme region. The first call for proposals aims at selecting partnerships which work together in our transnational projects for around 3 years and with an indicative budget between 1.2 and 2.4 million EUR ERDF.

Transnational cooperation actions are expected to address the development and implementation of strategies, action plans, tools, training, and pilot actions. To find out more about transnational cooperation projects, you are invited to browse the result page of the 2014-20 programme.

When devolping a project partnership, the following minimum requirements have to be met:

  • At least three financing partners;
  • From at least three countries;
  • With at least two of the partners located in the programme area.

Furthermore, the lead partner shall be located in the programme area.

The partnership for a project of the first call, however, should ideally range from 5 to 12 partners.

The following institutions can participate in transnational project partnerships:

  • National, regional and local public bodies (including EGTCs);
  • Private institutions, including private companies, having legal personality;
  • International organisations acting under the national law of any Member State participating in the programme or, with restrictions, under international law.

The participation of partners located outside the programme area in Interreg CENTRAL EUROPE projects is allowed only if it brings clear benefits to central European regions. Funds can be granted to partners in EU Member States outside the programme area upon conditions. Partners from outside the EU can participate as observers but cannot receive ERDF co-financing.

The “lead partner principle” means that each partnership appoints one organisation to act as lead partner. The lead partner takes full financial and legal responsibility for the implementation of the entire project.

The following institutions can act as lead partners if located in the programme area:

  • Public bodies;
  • Private institutions;
  • International organisations acting under national law.

Private bodies can take the lead partner role. Private lead applicants, however, must meet minimum financial capacity requirements in order to be eligible as lead partners.

If you are a private body planning to apply as lead applicant, please check carefully the financial capacity requirements to be met, by consulting chapter II.4.2 of the programme manual as well as by filling-in the financial capacity self-assessment tool.

Transnational cooperation has to be at the heart of every Interreg CENTRAL EUROPE project. This means that each project has to demonstrate that the challenges addressed cannot be solved efficiently by individual regions or countries alone. Moreover, each project has to clearly address the territorial challenges and needs of the programme area and especially of the regions involved.

Other important features of a good transational prioject are innovativeness, building on available knowledge, a sound methodological approach and a mature work plan.

Each project can target only one programme priority and within the priority only one programme specific objective.

The types of results achieved by transnational projects can be classified as follows:

  • Improved policy development, learning, and change;
  • Increased knowledge and capacity, including the knowledge transfer and exchange;
  • Better coordinated cooperation and enhanced governance at different levels;
  • Reduced barriers;
  • New or better services;
  • Behavioural change;
  • Leverage of public and private funds, including the preparation for follow-up investments.

For more information regarding the expected results for each specific objective (SO), please consult the relevant section of the IP - Chapter 2.

To find out more about the results achieved in the previous programme, you are invited to browse our results page.

Interreg CENTRAL EUROPE has pre-defined the following categories of project outputs, which focus on policy support and implementation activities.

  • Cooperations
  • Strategies and action plans
  • Pilot actions
  • Solutions 

More specific information on supported actions for each Specific Objective (SO) and related thematic fields and examples of actions can be consulted in the IP document - Section 2. The programme supports pilot investments as part of pilot actions and projects can contribute to the preparation of large scale investments.

Transnational cooperation actions will have to respect the horizontal principles of equal opportunity, non-discrimination, gender equality and environmental sustainability during project design and implementation.

In particular, all actions financed by the programme will follow an "environmental sustainability by design approach". This means that partnerships are strongly encouraged to identify and consider any potentially significant environmental and health issues during project design and integrate them from the beginning into all activities.

A pilot action is an implementation-oriented activity which tests novel approaches and leads ultimately to the implementation of newly gathered knowledge and related solutions.

A pilot action should have an experimental or demonstration character, be limited in scope, be jointly developed, implemented and evaluated in terms of results as well as jointly exploited and transferred to other institutions and territories.

Pilot actions can include pilot investments, which are implemented at a small scale and are necessary for the successful implementation of a pilot action.

A pilot investment must clearly contribute to the project specific objectives as well as to the project overall objective: it must have a demonstration, model or pilot character and show a clear transnational implementation dimension and effect that the partnership evaluates together. The investment should ideally pave the way to large-scale investments, thus increasing the impact of the project.

The project budget needs to be realistic and in line with the principles of adequacy of costs and sound financial management (i.e. economy, efficiency and effectiveness).

It needs to be consistent and transparent ensuring that it reflects the work plan and its timing.

From a time-wise perspective, expenditure is eligible according to the following three phases:

  • Project Preparation and Contracting Phase: Costs for the preparation and contracting of an approved project can be compensated through a lump sum.

  • Project Implementation Phase: Costs for the implementation of an approved project are eligible from its start date until its end date as set in the approved application form.

  • Project Closure Phase: Costs referring to these activities are eligible and must be paid by the deadline for submitting the last joint progress and joint finance reports as set in the subsidy contract.

Public support granted by the Interreg CENTRAL EUROPE programme to project(s) is State Aid when all of the below listed criteria are met:

  • The recipient of public support is an “undertaking” (an entity carrying out an economic activity in the context of the project);
  • The undertaking is given an economic advantage that it would not gain under normal market conditions;
  • Advantage given is selectively favoring certain undertaking(s) or the production of certain good(s);
  • Given support distorts or threatens to distort competition and affects trade within the European Union.

Project applications are assessed against these criteria, given in the article 107 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. 

In case of State Aid relevance of projects selected for funding, specific contractual obligations on State Aid are given in the project Subsidy Contract.

Interreg CENTRAL EUROPE grants direct State aid to affected project partners under General Block Exemption Regulation (GBER) Article 20. The aid granted by the Programme amounts to the whole ERDF budget of the concerned partner(s), up to a ceiling of 2 million EUR of total public contribution per partner and per project. 

For project partners who intend to receive external public co-financing to their budgets and are State aid relevant, as an exception, the Programme may award the ERDF under the de minimis regime.

De minimis aid would then be granted to the project partner(s) by the Member State Austria and it amounts to the whole ERDF budget of the concerned partner(s). Applicable de minimis threshold applies (per Member State and per undertaking), which may result with the reduction of ERDF contribution from the Programme. Moreover, external public co-financing to be received by the project partner is also State aid relevant.

All partners intending to receive external public co-financing or wishing to apply for it, must include information on additional public co-financing in the application form, section “Origin of partner contribution”.

When project activities result in advantages given to undertakings outside the project partnership (which they would not have obtained under normal market conditions), State aid is granted to third parties - final beneficiaries of project activities. This is called indirect State aid.

Indirect State aid is granted to final beneficiaries of State aid under GBER Article 20a. Value of indirect aid cannot exceed EUR 20.000 per recipient of aid and per project. 

Prior to starting implementation of project activities affected by indirect aid, concerned project partners have to determine the amount of indirect aid to be granted to each undertaking final beneficiary and obtain a MA/JS verification for calculation of aid value.

A good project has a strong management that ensures high quality outputs and results and mitigates risks in coordination with partners.

The implementation of a transnational cooperation project with partners from several countries, different institutional backgrounds and working cultures can be challenging. Therefore, an effective project management structure with clear decision-making procedures as well as clear definition and distribution of roles is essential.

External communication that is driven and coordinated by an experienced communication manager is essential for a successful project. Well-defined communication objectives support the achievement of thematic objectives and communication activities complement thematic activities.

If done well, communication raises the necessary awareness and provides information on thematic activities. It might even help to change the attitude of relevant stakeholders towards the changes aimed for by the project. Communication activities furthermore contribute to the capitalisation of achieved project outputs and results and aim at their roll out into broader policies, strategies and action plans.

All projects have to implement a set of standard communication channels and activities (project website, poster, etc.). At project start-up and then during the project lifetime, the communication manager and all other partners have to ensure that at least the following communication channels and activities are implemented:

  • Project website hosted on programme website
  • Project information on beneficiary websites and their social media channelsite
  • Posters displayed at all partner premises
  • Branding and visibility requirements 

Communication supports the achievement and capitalisation of project outputs and results. To this end, external communication is closely linked to thematic work packages. Communication objectives and activities have to be directly planned and integrated in thematic work packages.

Project management activities are to be considered as horizontal tasks and concern all thematic work packages. The overall approach to project management, including e.g. the set-up of management structures, responsibilities and procedures, as well as risk management etc., has to be described in the section “C.7 Project management” of the application form. The reporting requirements are defined in the programme manual and in the subsidy contract.

Selection criteria are grouped in two categories, strategic (“Relevance” and “Partnership”) and operational (“Implementation”).

The quality assessment is performed along these three criteria by applying guiding questions to all project proposals and it is based on a standardised procedure, to safeguard the principles of transparency and equal treatment. The assessment criteria are presented in detail in the Term of Reference for the first call.

The quality assessment of the first call for proposals is carried out in two phases. The first phase aims at excluding from the selection process those proposals that lack relevance for the programme (relevance filter). The second phase assesses all details of the proposals (full assessment).

The relevance filter focuses on particular aspects of the strategic assessment criteria ‘relevance’ and ‘partnership’:

  • Relevance and clarity of the intervention logic, notably its contribution to the targeted programme specific objective, as well as the added value of the proposed transnational cooperation approach.
  • Relevance of the partnership composition including its transnationality.

Proposals not showing a sufficient quality when assessed against the above aspects of the two strategic criteria are rejected.

The self-assessment tool will help you to determine if your project proposal covers all important aspects of a good project proposal and identify possible shortcomings. The self-assessment tool is available on a dedicated section of our website. It includes the assessment criteria and guiding questions, against which your application will also be assessed by the programme.

When searching for information, applicants are recommended to consult the programme website, where they can find all relevant call information, including documents and templates.

Additional applicant information and training is primarily offered online. Since June, explainer videos introduce the new thematic priorities and specific objectives (SOs) to potential applicants. These will be followed up in autumn by live webinars with open Q&A sessions. More information on these support measures will be published on the programme website and in the programme newsletter in due time. 

In addition, an English-language helpdesk team can be reached during office hours at +43 (1) 8908088 2403 and at helpdesk(at)interreg-central.eu. Furthermore, you are invited to browse our regularly updated Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs).

For inquiries on the national level, the network of National Contact Points provides support in national languages.

The Interreg CENTRAL EUROPE Applicant Community has been newly developed to facilitate transnational matchmaking. This community brings together organisations from all over central Europe and aims to facilitate partner search and project idea generation. It helps applicants to effectively present project ideas and build project partnerships.

Organisations interested in joining an existing partnership can register with the platform and search project ideas created by other organisations in the "Browse ideas" section. This section gives an overview of public project ideas and the type of partners that are still needed to build a successful partnership. Once you find a project idea which could benefit from your competences, you can contact its holder directly on the platform and exchange bilaterally on a potential cooperation and joint project development.

For further information please see the community section "How to become a partner".

The Interreg CENTRAL EUROPE Applicant Community has been newly developed to facilitate transnational matchmaking. This community brings together organisations from all over central Europe and facilitate partner search and project idea generation. It helps applicants to effectively present project ideas and build project partnerships.

Organisations looking for partners to join their project idea can register with the platform and submit their project idea in the "Browse ideas" section. In order to find suitable partners from a specific field of expertise or country, you can also browse organisation profiles in the section "Find partners" and get in touch directly on the platform.

For further information please see our community section "How to find a partner".

As of 29 November 2021, lead applicants with a project idea in an advanced stage can request a non-compulsory individual consultation with the JS team. The aim of these consultations is to advise lead applicants on the relevance of their project ideas and to clarify technical questions related to contents, communications and finances.

Individual consultations will take place as virtual meetings and can be booked exclusively based on project ideas uploaded in our applicant community.

Please note that only one consultation is granted per project idea. Ideas should therefore be in a more mature stage when requesting the consultation.

The network of National Contact Points (NCPs) provides support in national languages on primarily national application issues.

On the transnational level, English-language inquiries are answered by an experienced helpdesk team that can be reached by phone +43 (0) 1 8908 088 2403 or at info(at)interreg-central.eu

The Interreg CENTRAL EUROPE Programme is a funding programme of the EU Cohesion Policy objective “European Territorial Cooperation”. It co-finances cooperation projects that strengthen regional innovation, promote low-carbon strategies, protect and sustainably utilise natural and cultural resources and improve sustainable transport. Funds come from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

Covering an area of over one million square kilometres, Interreg CENTRAL EUROPE is home to around 146 million people. Nine EU Member States cooperate in the programme, including all regions from Austria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia, as well as eight Länder from Germany (Baden-Württemberg, Bayern, Berlin, Brandenburg, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Sachsen, Sachsen-Anhalt, and Thüringen) and nine regions from Italy (Emilia-Romagna, Friuli Venezia Giulia, Liguria, Lombardia, Piemonte, Provincia Autonoma Bolzano, Provincia Autonoma Trento, Valle d’Aosta, and Veneto).

The main decision-making body of the programme is the monitoring committee, which is composed of representatives of the nine central European programme countries. The Department for EU Strategy and Economic Development of the City of Vienna is the managing authority and thus responsible for the operational management of the programme. It is supported by the joint secretariat, an international bureau which is also located in Vienna, and by the network of national contact points in the Member States.

Please consult the contacts section for more details.

Interreg CENTRAL EUROPE’s main objective is to cooperate beyond borders in central Europe to make our cities and regions better places to live and work. Put more precisely, transnational cooperation should become the catalyst for implementing smart solutions that answer to regional challenges in the fields of innovation, low-carbon economy, environment, culture and transport.  

The programme will build regional capacities following an integrated bottom-up approach involving and coordinating relevant actors from all governance levels. In doing so, it will coordinate with other efforts in the regions including national and regional programmes, macro-regional strategies, the Horizon 2020 programme, the LIFE programme or the European Investment Bank.

The total programme budget is 246 million Euros from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). 231 million Euros out of this are available for financing transnational cooperation projects.

Maximum ERDF co-financing

  80%    
     85%  80%

   No co-financing

Member State

Austria

Germany

Italy

Croatia

Czech Republic

Hungary

Poland

Slovakia

Slovenia

Other EU         
countries
Outside the EU

Outputs and solutions developed by our projects are stored in our output library where they can be browsed by priority and output type.

More information about the projects funded in the period 2014-20 and their achievements can be found in our projects page.

On national levels, general guidance is provided by the network of national contact points. It functions as a first point of contact for applicants seeking individual guidance.

On transnational level, the joint secretariat offers individual consultations on project ideas and partnerships in both steps of the application procedure.