The INTERREG cooperation programme is one of the four European Union Community Initiatives. The European Commission recommends INTERREG initiatives to Member States – as opposed to regional and other structural programmes – as cooperation areas fundamentally aimed to stimulate development and cohesion across the entire EU territory.

The European Union establishes an indicative financial allocation and defines the general objectives and priorities of the initiatives, on the basis of which EU Member States in which eligible cross-border and macro-areas have been recognised (with the support of the concerned neighbouring non-EU countries) submit joint detailed proposals to the European Commission (Community Initiative Programmes, CIP). Joint Managing Authorities designated by the Member States are responsible for the regular implementation of the programmes and attaining objectives.

As opposed to national and regional programmes, the INTERREG cooperation programme is established in areas with different legal systems that do not constitute autonomous administrative structures. Organisations designated for undertaking the given task act in compliance with regulations set out within the framework of separate agreements and in line with cross-border characteristics.   

The INTERREG initiative has three strands, which primarily vary in terms of area of cooperation.

Cross-border cooperation - INTERREG IIIA

The border counties of two, or in certain cases three countries cooperate with the aim to develop cross-border economic and social partnerships in the case of the INTERREG IIIA programme.
Main areas of intervention: SME cooperation, local economic development partnerships, urban and rural development, human resource development, environmental protection, renewable energy, transport, cooperation in information and water matters, legal and public administration cooperation, etc.

Transnational cooperation - INTERREG IIIB

INTERREG IIIB supports the establishment of supranational, so-called transnational cooperation aimed at promoting the territorial integration of the European area. In order to achieve this, Europe has been sub-divided into 13 macro-areas; Hungary participates in the programmes targeted at regions in Central Europe and the Balkans.
Main areas of intervention: establishing transnational development strategies, creating efficient and sustainable transport networks, facilitating integration in information society, environmental protection cooperation, protection of cultural heritage and natural values, etc. 

Inter-regional cooperation - INTERREG IIIC

Various organisations operating in the entire territory of Hungary are eligible to participate in the INTERREG IIIC programme, whilst partners may be located in the entire area of Europe. The objective of the programme is to develop the regional development and cohesion strategy, as well as instruments used through a cooperation framework covering the whole of Europe.