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Central Europe 2020 Cooperation programme

Central Europe 2020 Cooperation programme

Publish date: 2014-10-06

Central Europe 2020 Programme is aimed to support regional cooperation among nine EU Member States, mainly in the area of innovative technologies based on knowledge. In the interview for cebiotech, Mr Luca Ferrarese, Head of the Central Europe Joint Secretariat, describes the idea of the programme and its priorities as well as challenges, which must be overcome.

Tags: europe , programme

How did the idea of the programme evolve?

CENTRAL EUROPE is a European Union (EU) cohesion policy programme supporting territorial cooperation under the umbrella of the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). Since 2007 our programme has encouraged transnational cooperation among the regions of eight central European EU Member States, namely: Austria, Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Slovakia, and Slovenia. With a budget of 231 million Euros we have helped to improve regional innovation, accessibility and the environment and to enhance the competitiveness of cities and regions. As of 2015 an advanced CENTRAL EUROPE Programme will continue to provide fresh funding for regional cooperation in nine EU Member States, then also including Croatia.

What are the major priorities and aims of the programme?

Building on a sound implementation of 124 co-financed projects with an average funding of 1.8 million Euros, the CENTRAL EUROPE Programme ultimately contributes to making central European cities and regions better places to live and work. We help regions to develop their capacities involving and coordinating relevant players from all governance levels – and we do that with only 0.07 percent of the total EU cohesion policy budget or, put in a more practical figure, by only spending 22 Eurocent per citizen in the area per year. Future funds of the new CENTRAL EUROPE Programme will be dedicated to projects related to innovation and competitiveness of regions, low carbon solutions, environmental and cultural resources as well as transport and mobility. First ideas for projects can already be found on our programme website  

What are the challenges associated with central European region that the programme needs to cope with?

No other transnational area in Europe is as heterogeneous in terms of geography, economy and infrastructure as central Europe is. In the programme we consider this spatial disparity a strength but it also exposes a lingering east-west divide. As a result, regions in our programme area face numerous economic, social and territorial challenges. With regard specifically to economic and social challenges, an uneven distribution of R&D activities across the area affects the potential which central Europe has for strengthening the knowledge-based economy in all over Europe. These and other challenges were all thoroughly analysed before concentrating the new CENTRAL EUROPE Programme on the strategic priorities mentioned before. Detailed results of this analysis are available in a report which can be downloaded from our website.

Do you think that programmes such as CENTRAL EUROPE can help making central European economies more competitive?

Results expected from our programme are to be seen against the backdrop of the EU’s “Europe 2020 Strategy” for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth. The transnational cooperation that CENTRAL EUROPE finances, functions as a catalyst for finding innovative solutions, which answer to common challenges and shared needs across the cooperation area. Projects supported by the CENTRAL EUROPE Programme in 2014-2020 will specifically build capacities of relevant stakeholders and thus preparing the ground for larger-scale investments and structural changes that will strengthen the competitiveness of all regions involved. In this sense, the CENTRAL EUROPE Programme together with other Interreg programmes will continue being an important instrument for reaching European, national and regional policy targets.


Luca Ferrarese holds a Ph.D. in Life Sciences and has more than ten years of experience in the field of regional and territorial programming and development, as well as technical and financial management of international projects in the framework of various EU policies. His work experience also includes several years as academic lecturer on EU project management.

CENTRAL EUROPE is a European Union Cohesion Policy programme, which is managed by the City of Vienna. Since 2007 the programme has encouraged transnational cooperation among regions in central Europe. The new CENTRAL EUROPE 2020 Programme will support regional cooperation in nine EU Member States: Austria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Slovakia, and Slovenia. Around 246 million Euros from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) will be dedicated to projects working on innovation and knowledge development, low carbon cities and regions, environmental and cultural resources as well as transport and mobility. 

Maciej Smolarz


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