TALLINN – The government on Thursday approved Estonia's participation in four European Territorial Cooperation, or Interreg, programs for the next period.
Under the four programs, cross-border cooperation projects stand to receive more than 600 million euros in European Union funding in 2021-2027.
Minister of Public Administration Jaak Aab said in a press release that Interreg programs are designed to solve problems extending across national borders with other countries and to jointly develop the potential of these territories.
"The programs are mostly targeted at border regions, providing opportunities needed specifically for regional development for cooperation in business, the environment, the economy and other areas," the minister said.
New Interreg programs will be opened to applicants in autumn/winter 2021 or in early 2022.
"Estonian partners have so far been very active in participating in the programs, and I believe that interest will be high also in the new period and the opening of the programs is much awaited," Aab added.
The Central Baltic Program of Interreg involves Estonia, Latvia, Finland and Sweden working together across borders to help small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) enter markets outside the EU.
Cooperation in the fields of the environment, circular economy, reduction of carbon dioxide emissions, access to the labor market, creation of cross-border public services, and similar, will also be supported. The contribution of the European Regional Development Fund to the program totals almost 127 million euros.
The URBACT program brings together cities and urban regions to work together on sustainable urban development and involves all EU member states, Norway, Switzerland and five candidate countries. The program has a budget of 102 million euros.
All member states, as well as Norway and Switzerland, also participate in the Interreg Europe Program. The program aims to improve regional development policy in different regions of Europe, including employment and growth activities, by supporting interregional cooperation projects and learning platforms.
The contribution of the Regional Development Fund to the program is almost 380 million euros.
The Espon program mainly finances studies, joint seminars, workshops and the creation of online analytical tools related to territorial development and spatial planning in the member states and Norway, Switzerland, Iceland and Liechtenstein.
Under that program, Estonian universities and research institutions can participate in Europe-wide calls for proposals. The focus is on territorially balanced development in the green transition and transition to climate-neutrality, as well as ensuring more equal living conditions and opportunities for residents. The program has a budget of 60 million euros.
In total, Estonia participates in eight Interreg programs: Central Baltic Program, Interreg Europe Program, Urbact Program, ESPON Program, Estonian-Latvian Program, Estonian-Russian Program, Baltic Sea Region Program and Interact Program.