European territorial cooperation, also called Interreg, is about developing cooperation across national borders. The aim is to encourage cities and regions from different Member States to work together and learn from each other through joint programmes, projects and networks. Interreg is the cohesion policy instrument designed to solve problems that cross administrative borders and require a joint solution. The programs are financed by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). Note that these are not research programs but programs for networking and dissemination of results.
On this page, we have compiled basic facts about the various programs available to us here at SLU. In addition, SKR, Sweden's Municipalities and Regions have published a similar compilation. You will find a link at the bottom of the page.
European territorial cooperation has been part of the EU's cohesion policy since 1990. The overall objectives are to reduce the impact of borders in order to promote harmonized economic, social and cultural development in the Union as a whole.
Below you find general information about the most important Interreg programs in Sweden. Under each heading there is a link to the respective program's official website, where you will find more in-depth information. Many rules are common, but there are also things in each program that differ.
Note that many rules are still quite unclear, so contact the Grants Office or the respective program's Swedish office early in the application process or as soon as questions arise.
Within Öresund-Kattegatt-Skagerrak, you can apply for funding for projects that give Swedes, Norwegians and Danes the opportunity to solve common societal challenges together in four areas of action.
Projects within the Innovation and entrepreneurship focus area must contribute to strengthening global competitiveness and creating cross-regional benefits within the region's joint smart areas of specialization, where green transition and life science are particularly prominent.
Carbon dioxide emissions, climate disasters and resource waste need to be prevented. Projects within the focus area Green transition shall promote renewable energy, the transition to a circular economy and prevention of and adaptation to climate change.
Congestions, uneven traffic flows and a lack of sustainable alternatives for transport and movement affect society and not least people's quality of life in a negative way. Projects within the Transport and Mobility focus area must contribute to a more connected, sustainable, competitive and attractive Öresund-Kattegat-Skagerrak region.
- Additional social problems are the lack of competent labor and difficulties in commuting to the neighboring country. Projects within the Borderless labor market must counteract this and develop the cross-border labor market.
The projects funded by the program can be carried out across national borders in eleven Swedish (Skåne, Halland and Västra Götaland), Danish and Norwegian regions. So this program is mostly relevant for Alnarp, Skara and Lysekil.
In order to apply for project support, your organization needs to cooperate with at least two actors from one of the neighboring countries (Denmark or Norway). The actors can be public or private organisations, but not individual traders or private individuals. A project must also meet other criteria in order to receive support, including fitting into the areas of intervention. Full-scale project type "main projects" are usually three-year, while preparatory projects, "pre-projects" are one-year.
- Projects get up to 60% of approved costs financed. For Norwegian organizations, 50% funding from the program applies.
- Eligible costs: The basic principle for ÖKS funding is that you receive a certain percentage (40% in total) for OH, travel and other costs in relation to personnel costs. You can also choose a certain percentage on the different parts (see cost type in link below). The parts that are percentages do not need to be reported/audited to the Interreg office in the mandatory 6-month report. Personnel costs are calculated on actual salary plus social security contributions.
- Hourly reporting of all time is a requirement.
- Auditing in Sweden is carried out by Tillväxtverket and is free of charge.
- Region Skåne offers planning grants to apply for their geographical area.
- Reporting and payout occurs every 6 months (in most programs).
Information on the five cost types that apply:
Sweden – Norway
Interreg Sweden-Norway is a cross-regional cooperation program between Sweden and Norway. The program has an emphasis on the green transition, circular economy and functional border regions.
The program has four prioritized areas
- A smarter Europe (Innovative environments and the sustainable growth of SMEs)
- A greener Europe (Climate adaptation and circular economy)
- A more social Europe (Sustainable labor market, Education and Sustainable culture and tourism)
- A stronger Europe (Strengthening cross-border cooperation)
When planning the project, it is important to clarify why you are collaborating across borders. The more clearly this is defined, the greater the probability that the project will achieve a concrete result. Consider trying to benefit from each other's skills and describe how you can complement each other. You can achieve cross-regional benefits by:
- Solving common challenges, where efforts from both countries are required
- Bringing together people or organizations with different skills
- See the market potential across the entire border, instead of just regionally in your own country
There must always be a Swedish and a Norwegian applicant; it can be institutions, regions, the county and municipalities, public organisations, industry organisations and non-profit associations.
The program is divided into two sub-areas:
- The Nordic Green Belt consists of Jämtland-Härjedalen county, Västernorrland county in Sweden and Trøndelag county in Norway.
- Central Scandinavia consists of the following counties in Sweden: Värmland, Dalarna and parts of Västra Götaland. In Norway, Innlandet County Municipality and parts of Viken County Municipality are included.
For SLU, this programme is mainly relevant for Lysekil.
All costs must be fully funded. If you are seeking external additional funding, this should be done in good time before the project application is submitted to Interreg Sweden-Norway.
On the Swedish side, the project is funded by Interreg Sweden-Norway with 65%, while on the Norwegian side it is financed with 50%. Thus, co-funding is necessary.
Both the own organization (applicant) and co-applicants can co-fund the project with their own time or in cash. On the Swedish side, an external co-funder can only contribute cash. On the Norwegian side, working hours from co-funders are approved. Funding in cash can come from any organization or company; they do not need to be involved in the project's operations in order to finance the project.
Please note that the total support of the project shall not be distributed equally between the two countries. The ratio between requested amount on the Swedish and Norwegian sides should be 70-30 in each project, i.e. EU support on the Swedish side must be a minimum of 70% and IR funds on the Norwegian side a maximum of 30%.
Aurora is a brand new program in the European Interreg community for cross-border cooperation 2021-2027. The program offers opportunities and enables new cross-border collaborations in the northernmost part of Europe and Sápmi. Aurora has specific cross-border funds added to develop Sami culture, business, research and the Sami languages.
Aurora will support development in four priority areas:
- Smart and sustainable growth
- Green and sustainable transition
- Education, culture and sustainable tourism
- Better and more sustainable cross-border cooperation
The Aurora program's goal is to stimulate cross-border cooperation and thereby strengthen the program area's competitiveness, sustainability and attractiveness through social integration, digitalization and green transition. Sustainable development is an overarching goal. Climate change, green transition and sustainable use of natural resources are high on the agenda.
The program is very inclusive, there is room for many different types of cross-border projects and initiatives.
Aurora has two sub-areas, Aurora and Sápmi.
Subarea Aurora includes the following counties/landscapes/counties:
- Lappi, Pohjois-Pohjanmaa, Keski-Pohjanmaa, Ostrobothnia/Pohjanmaa and Etelä-Pohjanmaa in Finland
- Norrbotten, Västerbotten and Västernorrland in Sweden
- Troms and Finnmark and Nordland in Norway
Subarea Sápmi includes the following counties/landscapes/counties:
- Lappi, Pohjois-Pohjanmaa and Keski-Pohjanmaa in Finland
- Norrbotten, Västerbotten, Västernorrland, Jämtland and Idre Sameby in Dalarna in Sweden
- Troms and Finnmark, Nordland, Tröndelag and Innlandet (Elgå Reinbeitedistrikt) in Norway
For SLU, this programme is mainly relevant for Umeå.
Most types of organizations can apply for support, public as well as private, but not individual traders and private individuals.
Support level and project types
- Swedish and Finnish project partners can receive 65% in EU support
- Norwegian project partners can receive 50% in IR support (Interreg funding)
Aurora grants two types of projects:
- Small-scale project which can could be feasibility studies or smaller implementation projects of 6-12 months. Proposals may be submitted continuously.
- Regular project which is of a longer nature, more of an ordinary nature. Applications may be submitted under specific calls that are arranged approximately twice a year.
The basic principle for financing is that you receive a certain percentage for OH, travel and other costs (15% on travel, 15% OH or a total of 40%) in relation to personnel costs. The parts that are percentages do not then need to be reported to the Interreg office in the mandatory six-monthly report. Personnel costs are calculated on actual salary plus social security contributions.
For more details on staff costs see the link below:
Funding is available for collaborative projects under the following program objectives:
- Increased exports for SMEs
- More new companies scaling up
- Joint solutions for circular economy
- Improved coastal and marine environment
- Reduced carbon dioxide emissions
- Improved employment opportunities in the labor market
- Better public services and solutions for citizens
The main features of a project funded by the Central Baltic program are:
- Thematic orientation in one of the seven program objectives
- A clear added value of the cross-border cooperation to solve a common challenge
- Project partners from at least two countries within the program area
- Project results that contribute to the program's project and program indicators
- The project results are sustainable and live on after the end of the project
- Project partners are public organisations, non-governmental organisations or relevant private partners
The participating regions in the Central Baltic Program 2021 - 2027 are located in Estonia, Finland including Åland, Latvia and Sweden.
In Sweden, the counties of Gotland, Gävleborg, Stockholm, Södermanland, Uppsala, Östergötland, Västermanland and Örebro are included in the program area. So for SLU, Uppsala, Drottningholm, Älvkarleby, Öregrund, Strömsholm and Grimsö are relevant for this program.
The program uses both real costs and simplified cost options. Actual costs must be shown in the partner accounting on a separate project account. The simplified cost options are reported based on predefined calculation methods.
When you use simplified costing options, the costs are not based on actual costs but on a predefined method. There are three types of simplified cost options, each with their own characteristics. The Central Baltic program uses all of these.
The three types are:
- Flat rates – calculated as a percentage of the defined base cost (office and administration and travel costs calculated from personnel costs)
- Lump sums – paid when the indicator for a cost has been fully achieved (preparation cost)
- Standard Scale of Unit Costs – paid when the unit is reached (hourly rate for staff, unit cost for face-to-face events and unit cost for project management equipment)
ERDF co-financing can be up to 80% of the costs for all project partners.
Eligible costs: the basic principle of the funding is that you get a certain percentage for OH and travel (15% on each) in relation to personnel costs. Using unit cost accounting is possible for other costs, e.g. a conference can charge a certain amount per day and participant.
The parts that are percentages then do not need to be reported to the Interreg office in the mandatory six-monthly report. Personnel costs are calculated on a standard hourly sum, in Sweden SEK 501/hour.
Hourly reporting of the time spent on the project must take place. All other time worked must also be registered as a total in the time report template provided by BSR.
Audits in Sweden are carried out at each reporting occasion for the parts that require this, at six-month intervals.
More details about funding see pages 82 and 109 of the program manual via this link:
The program is a cross-regional cooperation program between Sweden, Poland, Germany, Denmark and Lithuania. Distinctive features of the entire program area are its rural character with large green areas, coastal landscape with lakes and streams and the lack of large cities and the common inland sea. The program's vision is to strengthen joint sustainable development in the Southern Baltic Sea area by developing the region's potential within "blue and green growth".
The program has four focus areas
- INNOVATIVE South Baltic with a focus on digitization and internationalization for SMEs
- SUSTAINABLE South Baltic with a focus on sustainable water use, green energy transition and circular economy
- ATTRACTIVE South Baltic with a focus on sustainable tourism
- ACTIVE South Baltic with a focus on improving opportunities for cross-regional cooperation
The program area consists of the coastal regions of Sweden, Germany, Denmark, Lithuania and Poland.
- Sweden: Kalmar county, Blekinge county, Skåne county and Kronoberg county. So for SLU, above all, Alnarp is relevant for this programme.
- Germany: Mecklenburg-Vorpommern: Nordwestmecklenburg, Rostock, Vorpommern-Rügen, Vorpommern-Greifswald and district-free city (kreisfreie Stadt): Rostock;
- Denmark: Bornholm and Region Zealand
- Lithuania: Klaipėda, Tauragė and Telšiai
- Poland: Miasto Szczecin, Szczeciński, Stargardzki, Koszaliński, Słupski, Starogardzki, Gdański, Trójmiejski and Elbląsk
- The program finances up to 80% of eligible costs and each partner thus contributes 20% of the total project budget.
- Eligible costs. Personnel costs are based on a fixed percentage that is booked on the project account every month, which then gives an eligible personnel cost.
- The basic principle for financing is that you receive a certain percentage for OH, travel and other costs (15% on travel, 15% OH), calculated on the personnel cost. The parts that are percentages do not need to be reported/audited to the Interreg office in the mandatory 6-month report. Personnel costs are calculated on actual salary plus social security contributions.
- Seed money is possible to obtain.
For more details on funding, see page 62 of this link: Programme manual
Baltic Sea Region
Interreg Baltic Sea Region (Baltic Sea Programme) is a transnational cooperation program between the countries around the Baltic Sea. The program's overall goal is to strengthen territorial development and cooperation in order to work for a sustainable and innovative Baltic Sea region.
The program focuses on four areas:
- Innovative communities
- Sustainable water management
- Climate neutral societies
- Collaborative management
The program has a clear focus on innovation and sustainability. The program works for resilient economies and communities, sustainable water and strengthened blue industries. They also want to work for more climate-neutral societies by focusing on circular economy and increased sustainability in the energy and transport sector through energy transition and sustainable mobility. The program also includes a support system for the implementation of the EU's Baltic Sea Strategy.
The countries around the Baltic Sea are included in the program: Sweden, Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Denmark and parts of northern Germany. Parts of Norway are also included. The whole of SLU is therefore relevant for this programme.
All types of organizations can apply for support, public as well as private. Sole traders and private individuals, on the other hand, cannot apply for support.
The program finances up to 80% of eligible costs, and each partner thus contributes 20% of the total project budget.
Eligible costs: the basic principle for BSR funding is that you receive a certain percentage for OH and travel (15% on each), this in relation to personnel costs. The parts that are percentages do not need to be reported to the Interreg office in the mandatory six-monthly report. Personnel costs are calculated on a standard hourly sum, in Sweden SEK 501/hour. For other costs, e.g. conferences etc. these must be reported every six months in an audit to the Tillväxtverket.
Time reporting of all time is a requirement in their time reporting template.
Auditing in Sweden is carried out by Tillväxtverket and is free.
For more details about funding, see the Program manual.
Northern Periphery and Arctic
The Northern Periphery and Arctic (NPA) is a transnational cooperation program between the northernmost parts of Europe, the North Atlantic territories and the European Arctic. The program aims to promote sustainable development in remote and sparsely populated areas.
The program area is extensive and characterized by long distances. However, there are also common denominators between participating regions, their challenges and their opportunities, which form a good basis for transnational cooperation.
The program focuses on three areas:
- Innovation capacity - to strengthen the capacity for innovation for sustainable and attractive communities in the program area.
- Climate change and resource use - to strengthen the capacity for climate adaptation and sustainable use of resources in communities in the program area.
- Better cooperation - to strengthen the organizational capacity of communities in the program area to take advantage of transnational cooperation opportunities.
Sweden includes the four northernmost counties (län): Västernorrlands, Jämtlands, Västerbotten and Norrbotten. In Finland, the program covers northern and eastern Finland, in Ireland the northern and western regions. The program area also includes areas outside the EU; The Faroe Islands, Greenland, Iceland and the northern parts of Norway. For SLU, Umeå is above all relevant for this programme.
Both public and private actors can participate in projects within the framework of the programme.
The basic rule is that the program finances 65% of eligible costs for Swedish participants. Other percentages apply to other countries.
Eligible costs: personnel costs are based on a fixed percentage booked to the project account every month, which then gives an eligible personnel cost.
The basic principle for financing is that you receive a certain percentage for OH, travel and other costs (15% on travel, 15% OH) in relation to the personnel cost. The parts that are percentages do not then need to be reported/revised to the Interreg office in the mandatory six-monthly report. Personnel costs are calculated on actual salary plus social security costs.
Simplified method; there is also the option of reporting costs as personnel costs plus a 40 percent flat rate for all other costs. If this method is used, only the personnel costs will need to be verified during the audit. The possibility of this simplified method is decided on a case-by-case basis.
You can find more details about funding via this link: Program Manual
North Sea Region
Interreg North Sea is a transnational cooperation program between seven countries. The overarching goal of the program is to make the North Sea region a better region to live in and invest in. Ever since the program started, it has had a strong focus on improving accessibility, creating sustainable transport and environmental development.
The program has four different focus areas
- Robust and smart economies
- Green transitions
- Climate resilience and resilience
- Better governance and application in the North Sea region
The program covers seven countries in whole or in part; Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands, Norway, France, Sweden and Germany.
In Sweden, the counties of Värmland, Västra Götaland, Halland, Skåne and Kronoberg are covered. For SLU's part, mainly Lysekil, Skara and Alnarp are relevant for this program.
The projects are decided and carried out in two stages. Development of project ideas and projects with partner search is ongoing.
The monitoring committee leads the program and is responsible for the quality and efficiency of the implementation and decides which projects are to be granted support.
Each member state has representatives on this committee. In Sweden, a subcommittee is responsible for disseminating information and functions as an advisory body to the Swedish representatives on the steering committee.
The day-to-day administration is handled by the program secretariat in Viborg.
The Västra Götaland region is the Swedish contact point for the program. The Västra Götaland region office is also the secretariat for the Swedish subcommittee.
The financial conditions are described very well in the financial manuals found via the link below. Below is a brief overview.
- 60% EU support and 40% own funding
- Norwegian partners can receive 50% in national Norwegian support
- Eligible costs. Personnel costs are based on a fixed percentage that is booked on the project account every month, which then gives an eligible personnel cost.
- Salary costs for people who work full-time or part-time in the project differ somewhat, so check in the financial manual (see link below) what applies to the different groups.
- A flat rate of 15% of personnel costs must cover all office and administration costs.
- Travel and accommodation costs are rarely problematic provided they (i) are limited to staff working for a project partner (ii) are clearly relevant to the project and (iii) respect the principle of value for money.
- External experts and services can be an important part in many projects. It is necessary to define in the application which contracts the project intends to offer. During implementation, it is important to ensure that all correct bidding procedures are followed and documented.
- Equipment costs can be financed provided that they are necessary for the project and that the transnational benefit is clear. Projects need to be aware of whether they can claim full purchase value or only depreciation value.
- A lump sum of €40,000 is available to cover all project preparation costs. Projects apply for these funds in connection with submitting the complete application.
Financial Manuals: Resources
Interreg Europe is an interregional cooperation program that covers the entire EU. The purpose of the program is collaboration around capacity-raising efforts. The goal is to enable public actors, and other relevant organizations, to actively learn from experiences in other regions. It is about identifying, analyzing and transferring best practice to improve policies in regional development.
The program has a budget of EUR 379 million to provide support for developing and improving policies at local, regional and national level. Through the exchange of experience, innovative working methods and capacity building, the projects can find solutions to regional development issues.
Within the program, there is an opportunity for projects to work with capacity-raising efforts within all of the EU's political goals for 2021 – 2027:
- A smarter EU: e.g. innovation, digitalisation, smart specialisation, competitiveness of small and medium-sized enterprises
- A greener EU: e.g. energy transition, renewable energy sources, climate work, circular economy
- A more connected EU: strategic transport networks, sustainable mobility
- A more social EU: e.g. education, social inclusion, equal healthcare, culture, sustainable tourism
- An EU that is closer to citizens: rural development, sustainable urban development
There is no geographical restriction for Interreg Europe, as the entire EU is covered. This means that all 27 member states plus Norway and Switzerland participate in the program.
Public organizations and non-profit organizations can participate in projects. For-profit companies and individuals cannot participate.
- Public and public law organizations can receive 80% of EU funding.
- Private non-profit organizations can receive 70% of EU funding.
Eligible costs: Personnel costs are based on a fixed percentage that is booked on the project account every month, which then gives an eligible personnel cost.
Indirect costs are reimbursed at a flat rate of 15% of each partner's total personnel costs.
The reimbursement level for travel and accommodation can be calculated in two ways: 1) as a flat rate of 15% of the partner's staff costs or 2) on an actual cost basis, but only when the flat rate is not an appropriate method. This must be clearly justified, e.g. because the project partner comes from a remote region of the country.
Equipment (through purchase, rental or leasing) is an eligible cost if it is deemed necessary to achieve the project's goals.
Preparation costs can be reimbursed with a lump sum of EUR 17,500 for approved projects.
Link to financial rules: Program manual
ESPON is a policy development program that contributes to strengthening territorial development and planning processes.
ESPON is about finding solutions based on concrete policy needs that benefit actors at all decision-making levels in Europe. ESPON is based on a developed collaboration between decision-makers, practitioners and researchers that promotes mutual and adapted learning between and within different parts of Europe.
By focusing on learning according to thematic areas, knowledge building and knowledge dissemination are facilitated. Initially, ESPON addresses climate neutrality, governance and justice issues from a territorial perspective, and the resilience of places to crises.
ESPON offers researchers as well as European and Swedish actors to participate in different ways. Actors can propose to ESPON to clarify certain issues further. Several actors in Sweden have already made use of the opportunity to obtain an in-depth and adapted ESPON knowledge base. Researchers can get involved by taking part in calls where the mission can be to shed light on given policy issues or develop new methods and analysis tools.
Developing policy questions or policy answers is advantageously done together with other European actors and researchers, which is also a decisive strength for ESPON and the interregional cooperation and learning in Europe.
Affected geographic areas
The program covers all regions/countries within the EU as well as Iceland, Lichtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.
For details about the financial conditions see Approved ESPON programme.
URBACT is an interregional cooperation program that covers the entire EU as well as Norway and Switzerland. The focus of the collaboration is on the exchange of experience and network building between regional and local actors. The program has been developed to promote sustainable and integrated urban development.
URBACT's goal is to enable cities to work together and develop integrated solutions to common urban challenges. This is done through networking, learning from each other's experiences and by identifying "best practice" to improve urban development.
All member states/regions within the European Union are covered. This means that 27 member states plus Norway and Switzerland participate in the program.
To discuss the financial conditions, contact URBACT's Swedish office. Contact details can be found via this pdf.
If you coordinate a large international project with a large budget, you can get co-funding to cover part of the financial deficit that often occurs. See more about central and three-part co-funding at SLU here: Co-funding.
EU's funds and programs 2021–2027, summary from SKR, Sveriges Kommuner och Regioner (in Swedish).