The EU has a number of EU programmes where transnational cooperation helps to meet its policy goals, such as the Europe 2020 targets.  We have listed a limited number of these programmes in this section which we feel are of greatest interest to our members.

If you are interested in learning more about our involvement in transnational programmes, please download our overview of ESEC Transnational Projects 2007-12.

European Territorial Cooperation programmes (INTERREG and URBACT)

European Territorial Cooperation programmes are financing instruments for regional development, and are designed to intensify cooperation between regions in the EU facing similar socio-economic and environmental challenges. It includes the INTERREG programmes (which marked its 25 year anniversary in 2015) and URBACT III.

Details of the main programmes relevant to the our member councils are detailed below.

INTERREG North West Europe (NWE)

NWE has been designed to produce measurable positive change in North-West of Europe on three themes; innovation, low carbon and resource efficiency. It co-finances projects at a rate of 60%, and requires partners from at least three eligible countries, but preferably more. The total 2014-2020 budget is €370 million. Its five specific objectives are:

  1. To enhance innovation performance of enterprises
  2. To facilitate the implementation of low-carbon, energy and climte protection strategies to reduce greenhouse gases
  3. To facilitate the uptake of low carbon technologies, products, processes and services in sectors with high energy saving potential in order to reduce GHG-emissions in North-West Europe
  4. To facilitate the implementation of transnational low-carbon solutions in transport systems in order to reduce GHG-emissions in North-West Europe
  5. To optimise (re)use of material and natural resources in NWE.

For more information, please contact ESEC or visit the INTERREG NWE website.

INTERREG North Sea Region (NSR)

NSR has been designed to foster sustained economic growth across the region by helping enterprises, institutions, public administrations, NGOs and others to pool their expertise, share their experience and cooperate to develop realistic solutions to shared problems. Projects will have a focus on pilots, demonstrations and trials. The budget for 2014-2020 is €167 million.

Its four priorities are:

  • Thinking growth; supporting growth in NSR regions;
  • Resource and materials efficiency;
  • Sustainable NSR; protecting against climate change and preserving the environment;
  • Promoting green transport and mobility.

For more information, please contact ESEC or visit the INTERREG NSR website.


URBACT facilitates the sharing of knowledge and good practices between cities and other levels of government to promote sustainable urban development. The total 2014-2020 budget is €74 million.

Its specific objectives are:

  • To improve the capacity of cities to manage sustainable urban policies;
  • To improve the design of sustainable urban policies;
  • To improve the implementation of sustainable urban policies;
  • To ensure that practitioners and decision makers at all levels (including elected representatives where appropriate) have access to knowledge and knowledge exchange and on all aspects of sustainable urban policies.

For more information, please contact ESEC or visit the URBACT website.

COSME – EU funding for Small and Medium-sized enterprises

COSME is the EU programme for the Competitiveness of Enterprises and Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) and has a budget of over €1.3 billion. The programme will support SMEs in the following areas:

  • Better access to finance for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs)
  • Access to markets
  • Supporting entrepreneurs
  • More favourable conditions for business creation and growth

For more information, please contact ESEC or visit the COSME website.

Horizon 2020

Horizon 2020 is the EU’s framework programme for research and innovation and over the next two years will invest almost €16 billion following the adoption of the new work programme in October 2015. Funding is available for projects which:

  • involve ground breaking research or new technologies;
  • improve research training and development, or research infrastructure;
  • create growth in sectors like advanced manufacturing, materials, biotechnology, information and communication technology, nanotechnology and space;
  • increase private investment in research;
  • respond to challenges like climate change, food security or healthcare for an ageing population.

For more information, please contact ESEC or visit the Horizon 2020 website.


This is the framework programme for education, training, youth and sport, with the aim of modernising these activities across Europe. It is open to education, training, youth and sport organisations across all sectors of lifelong learning, including school education, further and higher education, adult education and the youth sector. It also finances opportunities for citizens to study, work, volunteer, teach or train in other EU countries.

Since 2014, our area has received at least  €11,042,493 in Erasmus+ grants. Our nurseries, schools, colleges, universities have all been beneficiaries. Aberdeen, Cowdenbeath, Dundee Utd and St Johnstone football clubs also received funding which enabled them to send their young players to winter camps in Austria, Portugal and Turkey. See more here.

For more information, please contact ESEC or visit the Erasmus+ website.

Creative Europe

Creative Europe is the EU framework programme for the culture and audiovisual sectors and aims to help the cultural sector to seize the opportunities of the digital age and globalisation, the enable the sectors to reach their full economic potential and to give Europe’s culture and media sectors access to new internal opportunities. The 2014-2020 budget is €1.46 billion. It will support projects including:

  • Culture sector initiatives, such as those promoting cross-border cooperation, platforms, networking, and literary translation and;
  • Audiovisual sector initiatives, such as those promoting the development, distribution, or access to audiovisual works.

For more information, please contact ESEC or visit the Creative Europe website.

LIFE (environment and climate change)

LIFE is the funding instrument for environment and climate action, and since 1992 has co-financed some 4,171 projects with a total budget of €3.4 billion. The ‘Environment’ strand of the new programme covers three priority areas: environment and resource efficiency; nature and biodiversity; and environmental governance and information. The ‘Climate Action’ strand covers climate change mitigation; climate change adaptation; and climate governance and information.

For more information please contact ESEC or visit the LIFE website.