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About the ETC Programmes

European Territorial Cooperation (ETC) programmes, funded by the EU, are international programmes that aim at the economic and social development of the European regions.

Levels of cooperation

The cooperation among regions takes place at the three levels:

  • cross-border cooperation (as a rule two countries collaborate),
  • transnational cooperation (multiple countries within a larger geographic area participate in an ETC programme),
  • interregional cooperation (one joint programme for all of the European regions).

ETC programmes objectives and principles

The general objective of the ETC programmes is to find common solutions to common problems, as well as to face common challenges together. International programmes require international partnerships at the programme and project levels.

Project partners, based within the Programme area and coming from at least two countries, build partnership in order to develop and implement joint activities. One of the project partners takes the role of the leading partner.

Reliable partnership is an essential condition for the successful implementation of a project. It should consist of organizations that have relevant capacity, complementary expertise and experience in implementing international projects. The leading partner is financially and legally responsible for the smooth implementation of the project before the other project partner (partners), as well as before the Managing Authority of an ETC programme (MA).

The MA is an organization that supervises the overall implementation of an ETC programme.

The Joint Secretariat (JS) is another international institution at the programme level. The JS supports the MA in day to day management of a programme. The JS is also the main contact point for applicants and project partners. It cooperates with and supervises teams of facilitators under the so called Regional Contact Points based in the majority of the Polish regions.

In the years 20014-2020 Poland participates in 7 cross-border programmes, 2 transnational programmes and one interregional.

ENI programmes

The European Neighborhood Policy (ENP), launched in 2004, is the European Union's policy addressed to neighbouring countries not currently covered by the prospect of membership. The legal basis for the functioning of the ENP is art. 8 of the Treaty on European Union, according to which "the Union develops a special relationship with neighboring countries, seeking to create an area of ​​prosperity and good neighborliness based on the values ​​of the Union and characterized by close and peaceful relations based on cooperation".

In the years 2014-2020, it is planned to create two programmes along the eastern Polish border:  

  • Cross-Border Cooperation Program Poland-Belarus-Ukraine (PL-BY-UA),     
  • Cross-Border Cooperation Program Poland-Russia (PL-RU).

From project idea to international cooperation

When searching for (foreign) project partners:

  • use existing contacts (i.e. partner cities, participation in a cooperation network, other international projects, institutional cooperation),
  • use database on the website of the JS,
  • participate in partner search forums organized by the JS,
  • use the guidance of the JS and national facilitators in the partner search.

Project partners should check if the project idea they are sharing corresponds to the Programme objectives and needs. In order to do so, the project partners should:

  • get acquainted with the Programme document and the Programme Manual,
  • have meetings with project facilitators and the Joint Secretariat during which the project partners will discuss the scope and content of the project,
  • follow news on the Programme websites.

If the project idea fits the Programme it may be developed into a project proposal. Close cooperation with the JS and Programme facilitators is very much advised at this phase. It is also of great importance to properly divide responsibilities among partners and to agree on who will act as the Leading Partner. The detailed responsibilities within the project are set out in the agreement signed by the partners.

When the project proposal is ready and signed by the Leading Partner, it is submitted to the JS. Then it is appraised. All of project applications are assessed against the criteria and procedures adopted within a Programme.

The Monitoring Committee (MC) is a body, consisting of the Member States and the European Commission, that selects projects for financing. The decision is either “approved” or “rejected”. Projects approved by the MC sign grant contracts with the MA. Implementation of the planned activities starts. Project partners must carry out their work in order to achieve the desired outputs and results within the agreed budget and time schedule.

In all of the ETC programmes project partners first incur costs, submit payment claims and then eligible costs are reimbursed to the Leading Partner and the Leading Partner distributes the ERDF money to the other project partner or partners.

European Groupings of International Cooperation

An additional instrument, designed to facilitate international cooperation, are the European Groupings of Territorial Cooperation (EGTCs).

This tool allows for the funding of formalized partnerships with legal personality by institutions from the EU countries (participation of organizations from outside the EU is also possible). EGTCs can implement projects within the ETC programmes either as one of the partners or as a sole beneficiary.

For more information please consult Learn more about the Programmes section.