European Territorial Cooperation (ETC) objective 2014–2020

The European Territorial Cooperation (ETC) objective supports cross-border cooperation between EU Member States at trans-national and interregional level. A total of 10.1 billion euros has been allocated to the ETC objective from the European Regional Development Fund in the period 2014–2020. This is about 3% of all financing provided by the structural funds. The EU also provides funding for cooperation at its external borders from the ENI CBC financing instrument.

Finland is participating in nine ETC programmes during the period 2014–2020. Six of them are INTERREG programmes:

  • Nord, Botnia-Atlantica and Central Baltic programmes at our northern, western and southern borders,
  • Baltic Sea programme and Northern Periphery and Arctic programme, which cover wider areas, and
  • the EU-wide INTERREG EUROPE programme.

Together with all other EU Member States, Finland is also taking part in the INTERACT III programme (which supports INTERREG programmes), the URBACT III programme (which supports urban cooperation) and the ESPON 2020 research programme. 

INTERREG and URBACT programmes

In INTERREG and URBACT programmes, the focus is on innovation, entrepreneurship, business activities (especially SMEs), the environment and natural resources. Some of the programmes also have transport, low-carbon economy and the labour market as priority areas.

The total ERDF funding for these ETC programmes is about one billion euros. There are no funding quotas for the Member States participating in the programmes. Thus, Finnish share of the funding depends on how many Finnish actors participate in the co-financed projects.

Each programme has its own managing authority, and except for one programme, they are all located outside Finland.

The Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment acts as the national authority responsible for ETC programmes. The ministry is represented in the monitoring committees of all programmes and provides information about the programmes and their implementation in Finland.

For more information about ETC objectives and programmes, go to and the websites of the individual programmes.

Nord, Botnia-Atlantica and Central Baltic programmes
Baltic Sea programme and Northern Periphery and Arctic programme

Further information: harry.ekestam(at)

ESPON 2020 programme

The aim of the ESPON (European Observation Network for Territorial Development and Cohesion) research programme is to improve the knowledge base of regional planning and development and support cooperation between EU Member States in these areas. All EU Member States plus the Partner States of Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland are taking part in the programme.

The programme is carried out as projects that involve research institutes in different parts of Europe. Most of the work is applied research in which the focus is on regional development and planning, regional structures, development prospects and policy impacts at European level. The project organisers are selected each year in an open tendering process. The first projects of the programme period were started in 2015.

In addition to projects involving applied research, there are also targeted analyses tailored to the needs of the users. Local, regional and national actors can submit proposals for analysis themes in the whole programme area. Proposals can be submitted on a continuous basis using the form on the programme website.

ESPON 2020 is one of the structural fund programmes for European-level territorial cooperation. The programme produces information for decision-making at EU, national and regional level. The first ESPON programme was launched in 2002.


Programme website
ESPON 2020 programme document

Further information: hanna-maria.urjankangas(at)