Launched by the European Union in 1990, Interreg programmes are intended to facilitate integration within Europe, as well as a balanced approach to cross-border development.

They have continued to develop ever since. Switzerland, which has been a part of Interreg from the start, has already been involved in hundreds of cross-border, transnational and interregional projects.

The three main strands of Interreg are the following:

  • Interreg A - cross-border cooperation programmes
  • Interreg B - transnational cooperation programmes
  • Interreg Europe - interregional cooperation programme

Participation in strands A and Europe is a matter for Switzerland's individual cantons and regions. The ARE coordinates Swiss participation in the transnational cooperation programmes of Interreg B.

Transnational cooperation (Interreg B)

The aim of transnational cooperation among national, regional and local bodies is to help improve territorial integration within Europe through the establishment of major transnational regional groupings. Almost 20% of the Interreg budget is devoted to transnational cooperation.

The European Commission has earmarked a series of regions within which programmes have been established and projects may be implemented. Switzerland participates in two such transregional cooperation programmes: the Alpine Space and the North-West Europe programmes.

Swiss participation in Interreg B

Since 2008, Swiss participation in Interreg programmes has fallen under the Swiss Confederation's New Regional Policy (NRP). Any project that receives financial support from the Confederation must contribute to the objectives of this new policy. If this criterion is not met, interested Swiss organisations may become involved on their own initiative in projects that do not receive cantonal funding or any public support at all.

The ARE represents Switzerland on the political steering committees for the Interreg B programmes. It also functions as a liaison office. To this end, the ARE is charged with publicising the programmes in Switzerland, supporting partners involved in the projects, and providing information to those interested in participating in new Interreg projects.