Frequently asked questions

On this page you will find questions that the NWE Programme is asked frequently, including questions on themes, types of projects we are looking for, partners and roles and finances, which are applicable to all projects. In addition the section on call 3 clarifies questions asked specifically in relation to small-scale projects. 
Should you not find your question below, please consult our reference documents.

 Call 3 for small-scale projects

A wide range of public and private (non-profit and profit making) organisations are welcome to take part in project partnerships. This includes public authorities, universities and R&D centres, SMEs and business support organisations, sectoral associations and NGOs.

For this small-scale project call, we specifically encourage the following stakeholders to submit a project application:

  • Local, regional and national public authorities
  • NGOs and interest groups such as local, community organisations, international organisations, trade unions, foundations, charities and voluntary organisations, clubs, etc.

The minimum size of a small-scale project partnership is three partners from three different countries. At least two of these partners must be from a region within the NWE Programme area.
The Programme does not define a maximum partnership size for small-scale projects. However, it encourages strong and focused partnerships where each partner has a specific role to play in reaching the envisaged project outputs and results. Partnerships should also keep in mind that their size has a direct impact on the efficiency of project implementation, particularly in terms of reporting and financial management.

The structure of the application form remains the same as in regular calls, covering 5 major parts (project identification, project partners, project description, budget overview, definition of lump sums). However, some of the features of the small-scale project call will contribute to shortening and simplifying the application form, notably:

1) Small-scale projects only have 1 project specific objective addressed by 1 work package leading to only 1 type of project output.

2) Budgeting:  A 40% flat rate will be applied on staff costs as Simplified Cost Option (SCO).

3) No investments are possible.

Assessment criteria are the same as the ones used in regular calls. However, they will be considered in relation to what can be expected from a small-scale project notably in terms of scope, budget, partnership and duration.

Get an overview of the milestones of call 3 for small-scale projects and the support available here and get in touch with your  Contact Point!
To exchange with other applicants on your project idea and find project partners, sign up to the  NWE online community.

Other small-scale project calls are foreseen during this 2021-2027 programming period, but a calendar has not yet been set. Dates of future small sale project calls will be communicated in due time.

Themes and types of projects

An Interreg project should be based on the identification of territorial needs which are specifically relevant to the concerned programme. For Interreg NWE, these territorial needs are described both in the NWE Territorial Analysis and in the NWE Interreg Programme. Projects should therefore apply for funding to the Programme that corresponds the most to the territorial challenge they are aiming to tackle. Identifying relevant partners and competences within a certain territorial scope can also be helpful in choosing the most appropriate programme to apply to.  

Transport and mobility are relevant topics for the 2021-2027 NWE Programme. They are cross cutting topics that may be covered under several priorities and Specific Objectives (SOs) of the Programme, depending on the focus of the project idea. For example, transport and mobility are referred to in the NWE Interreg Programme, specifically in priority 1 on climate and environment (e.g., climate and environmental resilience through soft and future-proof multimodal mobility approaches), in priority 2 on energy transition (e.g., low carbon transport solutions), and priority 5 on inclusive society (e.g., accessible mobility services). For more details, and to better understand how these topics are expected to be addressed by projects, please refer to the NWE Interreg Programme.

The NWE Programme’s priority 2 focuses on promoting the NWE region’s energy transition. Within that priority, a Specific Objective (SO) focuses on promoting renewable energy in accordance with Directive (EU) 2018/2001, including the sustainability criteria set out therein. Within this specific objective, projects on all types of renewable energy are possible including marine energy – even if it is not explicitly mentioned in the NWE Interreg Programme.

The place-based approach is essential in any Interreg NWE project since it anchors the project intervention to a specific place. From a territorial perspective it is key that the project is centred on the needs, challenges or opportunities of a given territory. Hence, a place-based project focuses on issues and themes which are of high relevance to the territory in question, like regions or cities. A project applicant should ask themselves: what are the common challenges or opportunities of regions and cities in a given area? And, based on these commonalities, which regions and cities need to be involved in the project to tackle the issue effectively?

The NWE Programme is above all looking for projects that develop, test, adapt new or existing approaches and implement them in different contexts (e.g., regions, sectors, environments, etc.) for further uptake.

As approaches can be technological or non-technological the NWE Programme does not use the TRL scale as a reference.

The Programme expects projects to undertake activities aiming to test, validate, demonstrate new or existing approaches and implement them in in real-life environments, and ensure their dissemination, uptake, and up-scale. 

The NWE Programme welcomes projects of any size in all calls, with applicants expected to define the scope, size of partnership, roles within the partnership, budget, and duration of their projects in line with the intended objective and expected results.

In the 2021–2027 Programme, specific calls for small-scale projects are planned. The first one should be launched in early 2023. Small-scale projects are likely to be limited in scope, partnership size, budget, and duration. The application, selection and monitoring processes of the Programme may be adapted and simplified to be proportionate to the smaller size of the projects.

The specificities of small-scale projects (strategic and administrative aspects) will be defined in the future and communicated to the applicant community. 

The ideal project duration is the one that corresponds to the project needs and ambition. Partners can start their activities as soon as their project is approved at step 2. In the 2021-2027 Programme, all projects must end by 30 June 2029.

However, three to four years are usually reasonable for projects in the NWE Programme.  Project applicants are also strongly encouraged to plan an average of three months for start-up as well as three months for closing projects as part of their time plan (in addition to the estimated time needed for project implementation). This will allow for a more realistic planning and give projects enough time to tackle administrative and reporting tasks without compromising implementation activities.

The Programme does not share project documents as such. Applicants can however refer to several documents to better understand how to successfully design their projects.

Applicants should read the NWE Interreg Programme to understand the themes and topics covered in the Programme; and the Programme Manual to better understand what makes a good project (e.g., Chapter 2 on Project development, and Chapters 3 and 4 on eligibility and assessment criteria at step 1 and 2).

They can review the templates (i.e., application form, eligibility criteria) that have been uploaded on the Interreg NWE website.

Furthermore, 2014-2020 projects (e.g., topics, partnerships, territories, budgets) can be consulted in the  projects area of the NWE website.

The NWE Programme’s priority 1 focuses on climate and environment. Within that priority, one Specific Objective (SO) focuses on enhancing protection and preservation of nature, biodiversity and green infrastructure, [...] reducing all forms of pollution. Improving indoor air quality can be one aspect of tackling air pollution.

However, to determine whether a project idea on air quality fits under this Specific Objective, more information on the project and its planned activities and expected results is needed. Depending on its focus, a project on indoor air quality improvement could also fit under priority 4/SO 1.1 (enhancing research and innovation capacities) or priority 5/SO 4.5 (access to health care).

To find the right fit for your project idea with the NWE Programme, please consult the guidance for applicants and get in touch with your  Contact Point.

Partners and roles

Involving a variety of partner types enhances the potential impact of projects both on territories and on citizens. Therefore  the Programme encourages the involvement of a wide range of organisations that can contribute to and are affected by actions undertaken by projects.

Private and public actors coming from government/public authorities, the research sector, SMEs and business support organisations, and sectoral associations/NGOs/lobby organisations/citizens groups are encouraged to join partnerships. These entities make up the quadruple helix (i.e., covering four segments of society).

However, while the quadruple helix principle is important, projects should first and foremost design their partnerships in line with the project needs and ensure that the project objective and planned results are met.

It is not mandatory to have all four partner types represented in each project. It is also not necessary that all four types of partners have the same level of involvement in a project (e.g., some types could have a limited role, or be part of a project as associated organisations (observers)).

The NWE Interreg Programme does not specify large companies and enterprises as a key target group for Interreg NWE projects (i.e., not part of the quadruple helix). Nevertheless, their participation in NWE projects is not excluded. Partnerships can include larger companies/enterprises, as long as it is in line with the project objectives and planned results. The participation of large companies/enterprises should have a clear added value to the project and must be complementary to the rest of the partnership made up of the key target groups.

The project’s objectives and planned results determines the size of a partnership.  Overall, quantity does not mean quality. The Programme encourages strong and focused partnerships where each partner has a specific role to play. Lead partners should seek the right balance in terms of size. The size of the partnership has a direct impact on the efficiency of project implementation particularly in terms of reporting and financial management. This should be balanced by the need to set up a strong partnership, considering different types of organisations that can deliver project results successfully. It is important to note that not all Member States need to be represented in each project.  

Sub-partners could be included in partnerships during the 2014-2020 Programme, but this category has been removed in the 2021-2027 Programme.

However, there are still different levels of possible involvement of project partners. While some project partners may be involved in the entire work plan, others may have smaller/limited roles e.g., in the scope of work they will undertake, their budget, and in terms of how much time they will spend working in the project, depending on the capacities of their organisation. As such, project partners can join partnerships in a limited scope.

The Programme also now offers more Simplified Cost Options (flat rate of 40%) as a form of support. If chosen, this cost calculation category keeps financial reporting requirements lighter. 

The United Kingdom (UK) is no longer an EU Member State. In June 2020, the UK confirmed to the Programme authorities that it will not participate in future ETC programmes. Therefore, UK organisations are not eligible as partners in the NWE Programme. This means that a UK organisation cannot join a project as project partner even if it is 100% self-financed. However, UK organisations can become associated organisations (observers) in a project, as this does not imply the award of ERDF funding to them.

Yes, the same beneficiary can potentially submit two (or more) applications in a same call. There is no formal limit to the number of applications that can be submitted by a beneficiary in a call. However, the time needed to prepare a step 1 application (i.e., identifying a project need, defining an objective, building a partnership, drafting a step 1 application, etc.) should not be underestimated.

A partner must contribute financially to a project. A partner without a partner budget is not a full partner. They may join as an associated organisation.

There is no limit to the number of associated organisations, as long as they are all relevant to the project and are of an added value. The project’s capacity to manage many associated organisations should be considered.

Associated organisations can be contracted for external expertise, provided they follow procurement rules. To comply with procurement rules, potential unfair advantages over other competitors must be avoided. As this is difficult to prove in the case of associated organisations, the programme does not recommend contracting associated organisations for external expertise.

As long as the organisation fulfils all eligibility criteria required to become a LP and passes the solvency checks successfully, they can be a lead partner. For the eligibility criteria, see Programme Manual, sections 3.3 and 4.3 Project assessment at step 1 and 2. The objective of the solvency check is to avoid that private partners run into insolvency during the implementation of the project, see Programme Manual, section 4.2.7 Solvency checks.


When applying, the total costs (known as Total Eligible Costs (TEC)) of a project should be included in the proposal. The online application tool Jems then calculates the breakdown of funds based on the funding rates.

The NWE Programme only reimburses costs incurred and paid by the beneficiaries during the project lifetime.

This means that each beneficiary must fully cover its project expenditure up front.

Then, once verified by the controller and included in a finance report, the Programme reimburses 60% (ERDF grant) to the lead partner who in turn must transfer the respective amount to the beneficiary (i.e., the project partner).

The remaining 40% is known as the partner contribution (match-funding).

Illustrative example:

A beneficiary (i.e., project partner) assigns one of their staff members (who has an employment contract) to work on the NWE project on a full-time (100%) basis. The employment costs of the staff member are 3,000 EUR per month and are supported by pay-slips.

The beneficiary pays the 3,000 EUR salary to the staff member (i.e., there is a payment made, with a payslip as evidence). It then reports the salary costs (i.e., 3,000 EUR) to the Programme. The Programme reimburses 60% of the costs to the beneficiary – paying them 1,800 EUR ERDF.

The costs of the time spent by the staff member on the project is thus partially reimbursed by the Programme (at a maximum rate of 60% ERDF). The 40% of the costs for the time spent on the project by the staff member are covered by the beneficiary.

The same applies for external expertise and services, travel and accommodation, and equipment costs. All these costs (provided they have been procured in line with procurement rules and the planned budget in the application form), can be reimbursed at a maximum of 60% if declared to the Programme as costs incurred and paid (and supported by the right documentation).

Since the ERDF grant rate is 60%, the remaining 40% of the costs must be covered by the beneficiary (i.e., project partner). This can either be provided through:

  • own funds e.g., beneficiary’s annual internal budget for staff costs in accordance with the time that employees spend on the project.
  • and/or through other funding schemes sourced from e.g., funding received from the national, regional, or local level if there is such possibility.

Illustrative example 1:

The beneficiary has not secured funding from other sources (e.g., national/regional, local governments) for the same project.

The beneficiary pays a 3,000 EUR salary to the staff member (i.e., there is a payment made, with a payslip as evidence) for the time they worked on the NWE project.

It then reports the salary costs incurred and paid (i.e., 3,000 EUR) to the Programme. The Programme reimburses 60% of the costs to the beneficiary – paying them 1,800 EUR ERDF. This means the remaining 1,200 EUR are paid by the beneficiary from their own funds (i.e., from their own pocket).

Illustrative example 2:

The beneficiary has managed to also secure funding from e.g., the regional government of their country for the same project. The funding rate in this case is 20%.

The beneficiary pays a 3,000 EUR salary to the staff member (i.e., there is a payment made, with a payslip as evidence) for the time they worked on the NWE project.

It then reports the salary costs incurred and paid (i.e., 3,000 EUR) to the Programme. The Programme reimburses 60% of the costs to the beneficiary – paying them 1,800 EUR ERDF.

Since the beneficiary also received another 600 EUR (i.e., 20% funding rate) from the regional government, they end up paying 600 EUR out of their own pocket.

The Programme welcomes projects of any size and expects projects to define their budget proportionally to the project objectives, workplan, outputs and results. Project applicants should propose a budget as such. There are no averages that the Programme is looking for.

Under both partner budget options 1 and 2 (see Programme Manual, chapter 5.2 Forms of support), expenses for travel and accommodation are covered by a flat rate. This means they do not have to be reported at all. This applies to all cost categories covered by a flatrate.

In step 1 the total indicative budget should include the total Swiss partner’s budget. The corresponding ERDF amount should not include the Swiss partner's budget, since they do not receive ERDF from the programme.

This means that the total ERDF at project level will be less than 60%. 

Swiss project partners cannot receive financial support from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). 
However, they can apply for financial support from the Confederation through the Fund for Regional Development of the NRP. The conditions, co-financing rate and control system are different in Switzerland than in the EU. These specific framework conditions are outlined in the document below. Next to carefully reading this document, applicants are advised to get in touch with the Swiss Contact Point as soon as possible, should they be seeking Swiss co-financing.

Download info sheet on Swiss co-financing


The Programme provides a dedicated webpage for each project on the Interreg NWE website ( The production of content (text, images, etc.) for this webpage is the responsibility of the project and is therefore eligible. Additional separate websites (i.e., external project websites) are eligible only if specifically justified and approved in the work plan in the application form (see Section 5.9).

Call timeline

Regular calls are planned every eight to nine months. Please keep in mind, that Interreg NWE has a two-step application procedure, with a lighter step 1 application and upon approval, a more detailed step 2 application.

Online tools

The NWE Online community ( is a networking tool, where partners can look for cooperation opportunities and browse project ideas. This is a new tool that has been set up to facilitate networking in a virtual manner. It IS NOT a tool to use to submit an application to the NWE Programme. 


All applications must be submitted on Jems at the following address:

Application form

Projects are strongly advised not to edit the template of the Partnership Agreement, as it reflects conditions and expectations of the Programme. Certain sections may be adapted to fit project needs, especially in terms of how things are to be organised within the partnership (e.g., project management structure, organisation of reporting et cetera). 

Project applicants are advised to submit at least a draft Partnership Agreement with the step 2 application. If that is not possible, a signed Partnership Agreement can also be submitted during the technical requirements period. 

What is important at step 2 is that the lead partner shares a version of the draft Partnership Agreement with all project partners so they are aware of the terms and conditions under which they will participate in the project if it is approved, thus helping to accelerate the start-up phase of the project.