Interreg central Europe: Call for peripheral and lagging areas

  • Action type: Interreg central Europe
  • Opening date: 15 October 2024
  • Closing time: 10 December 2024 13:00 (Europe/Brussels)
  • Budget per project: € 800 000 of total € 14 000 000
  • Estimated number of projects funded: 17
  • Project duration: 24 months
  • Official website


The overall objective of the call will be to “pioneer solutions for peripheral and lagging areas, making them more attractive to live and work in”. Consequentially, the call will have a territorial and thematic focus and will address small-scale projects as outlined below.

Territorial and thematic focus

Territorial challenges

The central Europe territory is characterised by structural differences and economic disparities between different types of regions, notably more advanced and industrialised areas (e.g. capital regions, metropolitan areas) and deprived areas (e.g. peripheral areas including inner peripheries, rural areas which are lagging behind). The latter are characterised by lower competitiveness and shrinking populations, and they face many different challenges in relation to economic development, connectivity, demographic change and social cohesion. Furthermore, there are significant disparities in the quality of governance and public services.

Targeted territories

With this call we want to unlock the development potentials of peripheral and lagging areas. Projects shall deliver local and regional solutions tailored to the specific challenges of these places in line with the principles of the Territorial Agenda (TA) 2030, with lessons learned from related pilot actions serving as insights for project applicants.

In order to qualify for the territorial focus of the call, areas to be targeted by projects have to show one or more of the following characteristics:

  • Low economic potential;
  • Poor access to services of general interest, often affected by demographic change;
  • Lack of relational proximity, decline in significance, influence or connectivity.

These characteristics of peripherality and lagging areas are of qualitative nature and there is no specific list or map of eligible regions to be targeted by projects. Targeted areas may be rural but may also include urban areas which are lagging behind in terms of socio-economic development. Their scale and size can vary depending on the project goals, e.g. ranging from local neighbourhoods (e.g. suburbs), city districts, villages and rural communities, small-or medium-sized towns or entire regions that are suffering from peripherality or that lag behind.

Partnership: At least three partners from three countries, two of which are located in central Europe: Austria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia (Find all programme regions).

Thematic focus

The call will be thematically focused and be open for proposals in four programme specific objectives (SOs):

  • SO 1.2: Strengthening skills for smart specialisation, industrial transition and entrepreneurship
  • SO 2.5: Greening urban mobility
  • SO 3.1: Improving transport connections of rural and peripheral regions
  • SO 4.1: Strengthening governance for integrated territorial development

Projects shall promote good governance through inclusive and participatory processes, on supporting socio-economic transformation by developing human capital and improving connectivity and governance in the concerned territories.

The strong industrial base of central Europe and its dependence on adequate skills underlines the strategic relevance of this specific objective. Small and medium enterprises (SME) are the main providers of employment in central Europe and it is important to foster locally available human skills, especially for the transition to Industry 4.0, digitalisation and a green economy.

Capacities need to be improved for an efficient entrepreneurial discovery process as well as for the preparation or updating of smart specialisation strategies. The place-based development of skills is also crucial for reducing urban-rural disparities. Overall, there is a need for a just transition process that is socially responsible.

Ideas are welcome in all relevant topics of the programme; the following topics are of great importance for peripheral and lagging areas:

→ Capital and skills development 

→ Brain drain, outmigration and the loss of skilled workforce

→ Social entrepreneurship

Digital transition 


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