Why re-invent the wheel when you can learn from others? From 2007-2014 INTERREG IVC set the cogwheels of interregional cooperation in motion and brought together partners from all over Europe to share knowledge and exchange good practices. The seven chapters of this activity report build up a picture of how the programme worked to achieve its aims. Each chapter includes an example of an interregional cooperation project.



INTERREG IVC is a programme implemented under the European Community’s territorial co-operation objective and financed through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). This digital report represents a synthesis of INTERREG IVC’s Annual Reports.
Sharing solutions
to stimulate growth
Two heads are better than one. Or in the case of the INTERREG IVC programme: 29 countries know more than one. Sharing solutions helps European regions – big and small, more and less wealthy – to generate sustainable economic growth and create jobs more easily and effectively together than alone. The whole of Europe contributes and benefits, creating a dynamic platform to face today’s challenges and those of the future.


The cogs
in a well-oiled machine

As with any organisation, it’s the people who made the difference in the INTERREG IVC programme. The clear organisational structure ensured that funds were spent in the best possible way. Moreover, INTERREG IVC’s decision-making body consisted of representatives from all partner states and from the European Commission. Hence its structure also reflected a main objective of the programme: to connect the regions with each other and with Europe.

every step of the way

Transforming a good idea into a successful policy can be difficult for any region, big or small. INTERREG IVC’s approach was specifically designed to help regions progress, step by step, and achieve their ultimate goal. Whatever applicants needed – information, constructive feedback, training, exchange of ideas or promotional resources – INTERREG IVC was capable of providing the right support at the right time.

the investment

When projects are financed with public money, it must be spent as wisely as possible. So INTERREG IVC’s selection procedure was strict: only 1 in 5 project applications received funding and just 2,295 organisations out of 14,000 applicants were selected to take part in cooperation projects. Project progress was monitored equally rigorously, using a clear set of indicators with close links to the overall programme objectives. This helped INTERREG IVC to achieve solid results and even exceed expectations on specific indicators.


A clear set of procedures and consistent adherence to them ensured that INTERREG IVC’s €302 million budget from ERDF was put to the best possible use in every step of the process.

Strict selection

A solid financial policy begins with a thorough assessment of applications. Proposals were assessed on the basis of three fundamental principles:


Monitoring progress

All approved projects were carefully monitored using a fixed set of programme indicators. Lead Partners gave updates on these in their six-monthly progress reports. This streamlined the monitoring process and kept projects firmly on track.

INTERREG IVC performed very well on key programme indicators.
As improving regional policies was one of the main targets of the INTERREG IVC programme, this was one of the main indicators. The number of policies improved exceeded the target by far. 590 policies benefitted from INTERREG IVC, as opposed to the target number of 150.

Number of policies improved *

A second objective of the programme was the successful transfer of good practices. Here, too, INTERREG IVC made excellent progress: the number of good practices successfully transferred (508) was over twice the amount targeted (200).

Number of good practices transferred *

It was also a key aim to enable more experienced regions learn from those with less experience. The goal was to enhance the capacities of staff involved in the project. As the indicator ‘staff members with increased capacity’ shows, INTERREG IVC succeeded in increasing the capacities of 7,475 staff members, which was more than double the initial target of 2,800.

Staff members with increased capacity *

* The results at programme level are cumulative and given from 2009 onwards when the first projects financed by INTERREG IVC became operational. Formally, the measuring ends in 2015 but INTERREG IVC projects continue to make an impact and therefore, results are still taking shape.

Accuracy of expenditure

Of course, progress reports were not only dedicated to the content of the project. They also provided the opportunity for projects to report their expenditure to the programme and, once the progress report was approved, to receive the corresponding reimbursement. This was not only important for the projects but also for the programme’s spending plan. Funds had to be spent by the programme within a given time otherwise they would be lost (decommitment). The programme successfully managed to spend as planned and no funds were lost.


INTERREG IVC also successfully explained the financial rules of the EU and the programme to its projects. Before projects could report their expenditure it had to be verified by a local or national controller. Some of those controls were, in a second step, also chosen for an additional check by another independent controller to ensure a high level of accuracy.

Towards a low-carbon, energy-efficient Europe
Photo © Westlausitz – Regionale.Wirtschaft.Leben e.V.
EnercitEE project
European Networks, Experience and Recommendations Helping Cities and Citizens to Become Energy Efficient
Priority: Environment and risk prevention
Click on the map to see the institutions involved in the project.

illustraties_arrow_yellow Lead partner
illustraties_arrow_greenProject partner

Towards a low-carbon, energy-efficient Europe

Europe has set ambitious targets in terms of energy saving and emissions reductions. Many programmes have started, aimed at encouraging local bodies to save energy. Real and lasting results can, however, only be achieved when its citizens are also on board.

In the EnercitEE project regions joined forces to transfer knowledge on energy efficiency and transport, and involve citizens in energy-saving too. They identified and analysed good practices, supported the exchange of experience and carried out small pilot projects.

Awareness leads to action

The small pilot projects were aimed at either communities or citizens. The good practices and strategies were then transferred to regions with less experience. A broad range of sub-projects was undertaken, ranging from creating awareness of the importance of saving energy at European schools, for instance, to promoting sustainable transport and mobility solutions among commuters.

Energy ambassadors

A sub-project in Haute-Savoie, France, addressed the issue of ‘energy poverty’: increasing numbers of families had difficulties paying their energy bills and were living in cold homes or having to make difficult choices between household expenses.

Reaching consumers is difficult but reaching consumers with poverty issues is even harder. The Haute Savoie Energy Advice Centre (EAC) therefore decided to team up with social services to reach this specific group of people. The aim was to help them to save energy and thus lower their bill.

EAC created a number of consumer-friendly communication tools to help social workers provide energy-saving tips and advice in an easy and fun-to-use way. One of these was a ‘bill mask’, a folder with windows cut out in strategic places. By putting the mask over their energy bill, consumers’ attention was immediately drawn to the most important information. This helped them to become more energy savvy.

Both social workers and consumers were enthusiastic about the programme and activities. The success of this sub-project led to a project proposal by eight regions in the EU programme Intelligent Energy, thus continuing energy-saving efforts after EnercitEE was concluded.


“For Europe and its regions climate change is a significant factor in the transformation of nature and society. INTERREG IVC offered the opportunity to achieve and to enhance the knowledge exchange between partner regions. This in turn helped to test, to disseminate and to consolidate instruments and experiences of local climate mitigation. The positive reactions of all partners illustrate the progress we made with the project EnercitEE. Now it is important for us to put the knowledge generated by INTERREG IVC into use, for example in the field of local climate adaptation, too.”

Andreas Völlings, Saxon State Agency for Environment, Agriculture and Geology, Germany (lead partner)

Solidarity works,
regions benefit
With 29 countries taking part in the programme, INTERREG IVC was a truly European initiative. Knowledge exchange brought together and benefitted regions from all four corners of the continent, with an average number of 10 individual regions taking part in each project. Learning from the experience of other’s broadened participants’ horizons and helped them to think ‘outside the box’ to find effective solutions.

Milestones along the way
Not only the participants learned from INTERREG IVC. As time progressed, the programme adapted to suit changing situations and to build on lessons learned. In this way, INTERREG IVC continued to provide regions with the best possible support for the exchange of knowledge and best practices.

Launch of INTERREG IVC in Lisbon, Portugal

Right from the start, INTERREG IVC worked with an online monitoring system containing all information on the programme itself and the projects it supported. This information was available for all member states participating in the programme, relevant European initiatives and auditors as well as the certifying authority. This enhanced transparency and ensured access to the most up-to-date information.

First call for projects: 492 applications received

The first-level control system that was put into place made national authorities responsible for the first check of project finances and expenditure. This ensured that all projects were audited in accordance with national legislation.

Second call for projects: 481 applications
First progress reports submitted and first good practices defined
An initial evaluation of capitalization projects* showed a leverage effect of 15: every euro invested in the project by INTERREG IVC resulted in an impact on mainstream funds of 15 euro.
*Capitalisation Projects are a specific type of projects that focus on the transfer of regional development good practices into mainstream EU Structural Funds programmes. They build on existing good practices in their field of cooperation.

Third call for projects (capitalisation projects only): 29 applications

INTERREG IVC was one of the first territorial cooperation programmes to introduce a flat rate for the calculation and reporting of administration costs. This represented a great step forward in reducing the administrative burden of projects. Other programmes followed suit and used the INTERREG IVC approach too.

Fourth call for projects: 355 applications

A Good Practices database was launched to encourage the sharing and transfer of good practices throughout Europe. To date, some 6,475 good practices have been identified from 204 projects. For Capitalisation projects, the rate is even higher: 199 good practices from 20 projects.


Programme thematic capitalisation analysis launched: an approach that focuses on collecting, analysing and disseminating the thematic knowledge gained from projects working on the same topic.

The twelve identified themes


Participated in the European Week of Regions and Cities with a special INTERREG IVC exhibition: 11 thematic stands gave an overview of about 60 good practices identified by INTERREG IVC projects. Some 800 people saw the exhibition in Brussels. It then travelled throughout Europe.


The Stories of Changing Regions webdocumentary was published. This webdocumentary portrays the women and men behind the cooperation, the people who are actively involved in building the links and learning from each other. Projects featured range from climate change and water management to distance-monitoring of patients in rural surroundings, and from boosting tourism in small towns and villages to improving public transport in big cities.


Exchange of experience report – INTERREG IVC commissioned a study on how interregional cooperation projects organise the process of exchanging experience among partners and how this process can directly influence the policy framework of the concerned regions.


Launch of the Capitalisation library, an online platform packed with brochures, reports and policy papers on the twelve identified themes. The library is the result of the two years of analysis performed on INTERREG IVC projects by experts and it is open to all who wish to learn from and build on the experience of others.


Europe, let’s cooperate! On 2 and 3 December 2014 an interregional cooperation forum was held in Bologna, Italy. Its aim was to discuss the results of the INTERREG IVC programme and launch the new INTERREG EUROPE programme that builds on the solid basis laid by its predecessor.

See online report for interactive functions.

An innovative approach towards flood management
Photo © FLOOD-WISE/Wasserverband Eifel-Rur
Sustainable Flood Management Strategies for Cross Border River Basins
Priority: Environment and risk protection
Click on the map to see the institutions involved in the project.

illustraties_arrow_yellow Lead partner
illustraties_arrow_greenProject partner

An innovative approach helps recommendations to sink in

‘Floods don’t stop at the border – so let’s improve cross-border cooperation.’ This was the slogan of the FLOOD-WISE project, an initiative to stimulate a joint approach to sustainable flood management in six international rivers: Bug, Elbe, Meuse, Rur, Somes and Sotla.

Serious game

The project team assessed flood risks for these rivers, then set about mapping them and ultimately developed flood management systems to deal with them. With their results in place, they decided to take an innovative approach to presenting their recommendations.

They developed a serious game in which players can actually experience the issues at stake and discover through role-playing how to achieve the best cross-border approach. In this way, recommendations really sink in. They also produced posters with the top three tips per project phase, to keep the lessons learned top of mind within the relevant bodies.


Cooperation continues after the project

FLOOD-WISE proved such a successful initiative that project partners wanted to ensure that existing relations and expertise remained in place and were eager to create opportunities to forge new ones. Consequently, they set up the Task Force for Water Government to keep flood risk and flood management firmly in the picture.


“The greatest benefit of FLOOD-WISE is the improved and intensified contact with our colleagues on the other side of the border. Our joint efforts resulted in the very useful cross-border flood risk maps and flood hazard maps for the international river basins. These are the corner stones for a FLOOD RISK MANAGEMENT PLAN, preventing flood disasters in border regions.”

Alfred Evers – Project Coordinator, Euregio Meuse-Rhine , the Netherlands (lead partner)

A solid platform
to build on


All good things must come to an end and INTERREG IVC is no exception. Fortunately, the end of the programme does not mean the end of interregional cooperation. INTERREG IVC’s 204 completed projects and 2,295 participating regional partners have created a solid basis for a new interregional cooperation programme and knowledge platform: Interreg Europe.