Cohesion policy

The cohesion policy is the European Union strategy put in place to ensure a harmonic development of the European Union as a whole. It is aimed at reducing large economic, social and territorial inequalities between the European regions.

The primary objective of the 2014 - 2020 cohesion policy is to invest in jobs and growth. In addition, the cohesion policy aims to improve European territorial cooperation through investments.  For example, the cohesion policy wants to contribute to the realisation of the Europe 2020-strategy of smart, sustainable and inclusive growth.

To achieve these objectives, member states receive support via the European Structural and Investment Funds: The European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), the European Social Fund (ESF) and the Cohesion Fund (CF). Every European region is entitled to support from the ERDF and the ESF. Only lesser developed regions receive support from the CF. Belgium, being a more developed region, can therefore count on support from the ERDF and the ESF. The ERDF finances ERDF programmes and the Interreg programmes. The ESF finances the ESF programmes.


Type of region


Investing in growth and jobs

Lesser developed regions

Transition regions

More developed regions


Cohesion Fund


European territorial cooperation


ERDF programme

Interreg programme

European territorial cooperation is one of the objectives of the cohesion policy.  Interreg is a programme which is supported by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and which is aimed at stimulating and improving this European territorial cooperation.  Interreg V is the fifth phase of the programme and runs from 2014 to 2020.

The Interreg programme supports cooperation in three different areas:
- Interreg V-A: Cross-border cooperation
- Interreg V-B: Transnational cooperation
- Interreg V-C: Interregional cooperation

Interreg V-A is the principle area under which to submit project proposals. Within this area, Hasselt University belongs to two Interreg regions:
- Cross-border region Flanders - The Netherlands
- Euregion Meuse - Rhine

Within Interreg V-B Hasselt University belongs to the tot de region Northwest Europe.

Cross-border region Flanders - the Netherlands

The cross-border region Flanders - The Netherlands contains on the Flemish side Antwerp, Limburg, East-Flanders, Flemish-Brabant (only the Leuven district) and West-Flanders (excluding the districts of Veurne and Ieper).  On the Dutch side, the area is formed by the provinces of Limburg, North-Brabant and Zeeland.

For the new programme period 2014 - 2020, this region has chosen 4 themes accompanied by 9 different specific objectives:
- Strengthening research, technological development and innovation
- Support for more energy efficiency and renewable energy
- Protection of the environment and promotion of resource efficiency
- Promotion of employment and supporting labour mobility

Innovation- 1A: Stimulating industrial research and experimental research by expanding the research infrastructure and the cooperation between knowledge institutions
- 1B: Valorisation of knowledge and innovation through industrial research and experimental development, by cooperation between companies themselves and between companies and knowledge and education institutions
Energy- 2A: Promoting energy efficiency and the use of renewable energy in companies, by demonstrating the possibilities of the application of innovate measures and techniques
- 2B: Promoting energy efficiency and the use of renewable energy in the public infrastructure and the housing sector, by demonstrating the possibilities of the application of innovate measures and techniques
- 2C: Innovating low carbon products / services / applications / processes through industrial research and experimental development, by cooperation between companies themselves and by companies with R&D centres and knowledge institutions, and by early implementation of innovative low carbon technologies
Environment- 3A: Protecting and restoring biodiversity, soil protection and restoring and promoting ecosystem services, by a joint approach to environmental issues in this cross-border region which is economically intensively used
- 3B: Innovating products / services / applications / processes for the improvement of environmental protection and resource efficiency through industrial research and experimental development, by cooperation between companies themselves and by companies with R&D centres and knowledge institutions
- 3C: Promoting resource efficiency within the (industrial) sector by stimulating the adjustment of production processes
Labour market- 4: Improving the match between supply and demand on the labour market in the cross-border region, in order to make better use of the employment potential

Through this second call for projects, the programme wishes to allocate about 20% (27,5 million Euro) of the total available funds. Broken down per theme, the following budget is envisaged:
- Innovation: 9,5 million ERDF
- Energy: 5 million ERDF
- Environment: 10 million ERDF
- Labour market: 3 million ERDF

The Oversight Committee can deviate from the planned maximum budget for the call, as well as from above distribution.

You can submit projects within each theme of the programme. However, the Oversight Committee pays special attention - within the margins of the outlined budget per theme above - to:
- Projects that fit specifically with objectives 2A, 3B, 3C or 4;
- Projects with a positive impact on the programme indicators of the above mentioned specific objectives;
- Projects aimed at the (sustainable) logistics, agrofood and / or nano and / or micro electronics sectors.

The second call for the new programme was launched on 4 June 2015. The last day for submitting applications is 2 October 2015.

The application procedure takes place in two phases. During the first phase you will submit a limited project outline (deadline 2 October 2015). On the basis of this limited application, the first preselection will take place. The selected projects are then invited to submit a full application file after which the final selection takes place and the approval can follow.

The submission of  project proposals takes place via the e-desk. More information regarding the specific call can be found in the Interreg Flanders - The Netherlands call document.

More information?
Contact Hasselt University:
Contact Limburg Province Interreg cross-border region Flanders - The Netherlands:  Matthias Verhegge (
Or on the website of Cross-border region Flanders - The Netherlands

Euregion Meuse - Rhine

The programme area of the Euregion Meuse - Rhine has remained unchanged relative to the Interreg IV A EMR programme. Partners have to be located in one of the areas below in order to be eligible for participation in an Interreg EMR project. Projects have to consist of a partnership that transcends country borders.

The programme area consists of the following regions:


- Province of Limburg
- Province of Liege (of which the district Huy-Waremme only for the domains social inclusion and territorial development)
- German speaking community
- District of Leuven (only for the innovation domain)

The Netherlands- Regions of South and Middle Limburg
- Region South-east North-Brabant (only for the innovation domain)
Germany- District Aachen
- District Düren
- District Euskirchen
- District Heinsberg
- Eifeldistrict Bitburg-Prüm
- District Vulkaneifel

The Cooperation programme exists of the following four priority domains:
- Domain 1 - Innovation: technological innovation, tech transfer, synergy corporate world and knowledge institutions

- Domain 2 - Economy: strengthening the competitiveness of small businesses (generally): i.a. supporting starters, implementing new business models with the intention to export, intrapreneurship and extrapreneurship, also the innovation of processes and applications aimed at more efficient use of resources within the small business domain.

- Domain 3 - Social inclusion and education: poverty reduction, community development, cross-border education and coaching programmes, eliminating mismatch between the labour market and education.

Domain 4 - Territorial development: eliminating physical and judicial border boundaries: themes tourism, culture, security, mobility, health care, border information for frontier workers.

The procedure for the approval of projects happens in two phases. In the first phase a project outline is submitted. If this outline gets a 'go', you will be asked to submit a definitive project proposal.

This is why project outlines for the first call need to be submitted per e-mail to the regional Interreg branch office in the area where the lead partner is based and on 30 June 2015 at 12 o'clock in the afternoon at the very latest. For Belgian Limburg, the regional branch officer is Matthias Verhegge ( Please also copy the Directorate Research, Library and Internationalisation ( in your communications.

A project outline consists of two parts: a description of the contents and the partnership (word document) and a budget (excel file). Upon submission both documents need to be filled out and in three languages FR - NL - DE. So you will submit six documents.  Important: before you submit your project outline, you will first need to have discussed it with your regional branch office in order to adjust the contents and the feasibility of your project idea. This is also the case for projects for which you are not the lead partner. Your project partners should also inform their own regional branch offices of the projects in which they wish to participate..

Application forms 
- Project outline: NL - DE - FR
- Project budget: NL - DE - FR

Project can be funded for max. 50% with ERDF funds from the Interreg programme.
The programme has a ERDF budget of 96 million Euro.

More information?
Cooperation programme EMR
Presentation EMR

Contact Hasselt University:
Contact Limburg Province Interreg cross-border region Flanders - The Netherlands: Matthias Verhegge (

Interreg Northwest Europe

The programme area  Northwest Europe consists of: Ireland, the United Kingdom, Belgium, Luxembourg, parts of France, Germany, the Netherlands and Switzerland.
In the new programme period, the NWE programme will focus on 3 priorities, broken down into 5 specific objectives:

Thematic prioritySpecific objectives
Innovation- Promoting the innovation achievements in Northwest Europe via international cooperation
Low carbon economy- Reduction of the emission of greenhouse gasses within Northwest Europe through international cooperation on the implementation of CO2, energy and climate policies
- Reduction of the emission of greenhouse gasses through international cooperation on the implementation of low carbon technologies, products and services
- Reduction of the emission of greenhouse gasses through international cooperation on transnational low carbon solutions in transportation systems
Efficient use of resources and raw materials- Optimize of (re)use of raw materials and natural resources in Northwest Europe through international cooperation

Project applications can only be submitted during an open call. It is expected that the first call will be launched in the first half of 2015 if the European Commission approves the operational programme by the end of 2014.

More information?
Contact Hasselt University:
National contact: Carolien Reubens (

ESF programme

The European Social Fund (ESF) is one of the  European Structural and Investments Funds (ESIF).  It is the most important European instrument used to support employment, be more effective in helping people find jobs and to ensure fairer employment opportunities for all EU citizens.
In Flanders the ESF Agency is responsible for the implementation and the management of the ESF programme in Flanders.

For whom?
In principle, every organisation with legal personality can submit a project with the ESF Agency.  It is, however, always advised to carefully read the call for which you want to submit a project. Restrictions can be imposed per call.

Project applications can only be submitted during an open call. The ESF Agency launches calls on the basis of developments within the Flemish labour market. Every call falls within the priorities of the ESF programme. An overview of the open calls can be found on the website of the ESF.

In 2014, the new European programme period started. This meant the start of a new programme period for the European Social Fund as well. Europe establishes guidelines in consultation with the various EU member states, within which the member states can set priorities themselves in accordance with their own needs. The negotiations on the details of the new operational programme are still ongoing. As soon as there is insight into the priorities of the new programme, you will find that information here.

More information?
Contact Hasselt University:
Or on the website of the ESF