Cross-border cooperation initiatives, which first started in Northern Europe in the 1950s, and especially in the Rhine Basin, were supported by the EU in the 1990s as part of its integration strategy. Cross-border cooperation programmes envisage cooperation for balanced development in the common border regions of EU countries, between the border regions of EU member states and third countries with borders, and between the regions within the Union itself. Cross-border cooperation programmes, which are one of the tools of the European Neighborhood Policy as well as the EU Regional Policy, contribute to the development of border regions, while also being conducive to the fusion of different cultures and societies.
During the 2021-2027 budgeting period of the EU, all cooperation programmes both within and outside the EU's internal and external borders are consolidated under the Interreg. Currently, there are 86 Interreg programmes in operation. Accordingly, there are a total of 64 cross-border cooperation programmes (Interreg A), comprising 49 for internal borders, 24 for external borders (10 IPA-Pre-accession Instrument and 14 NEXT-Neighbourhood Instrument for External Borders), and one PEACE+ Programme (between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland).
In addition to this, there are 13 transnational programs (Interreg B) aimed at wider transnational areas and sea basins under the Interreg framework, of which 2 are for external borders. There are also 4 interregional cooperation programs (Interreg C) for establishing networks and enhancing capacity across Europe, and 5 extra-regional programs (Interreg D) focusing on the overseas territories of EU countries.
The participation of EU member states in these aforementioned programs is financed through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). Participation of candidate and potential candidate countries for EU membership is facilitated through the Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance (IPA), and the participation of neighboring and other countries is supported by the Neighbourhood, Development, and International Cooperation Instrument (NDICI).
Türkiye, as a candidate country for EU membership, is engaged in 1 cross-border (Interreg A) and 2 transnational (Interreg B) cooperation programmes during the 2021-2027 period. These are the Interreg IPA Bulgaria-Türkiye Cross-border Cooperation Programme (Interreg A), the Interreg NEXT Black Sea Basin Cross-border Cooperation Programme (Interreg B), and the Interreg NEXT MED Cross-border Cooperation Programme (Interreg B).
In the 2003-2006, 2007-2013, and 2014-2020 period of the Bulgaria-Türkiye Cross-border Cooperation Programme an the Interreg NEXT Black Sea Basin Cross-border Cooperation Programme, a total of 310 projects have been successfully implemented.
Directorate for EU Affairs is the National Authority of cross-border cooperation programmes in Türkiye.