European Territorial Cooperation funding in a 'no deal' Brexit

06 Mar 2019

The government has published an update providing further information about how European Territorial Cooperation (ETC) programmes would be affected if the UK leaves the EU without a deal.

It provides information if you:

  • receive funding from the ETC programmes
  • would like to apply for funding from the ETC programmes
What the guarantee covers

The government is working to agree a deal which works for the whole of the UK and an important part of this process is giving certainty to businesses and citizens. Under the Withdrawal Agreement negotiated with the EU, the UK will continue to participate in the programmes financed by the current EU Budget until their closure. This means that all ETC programmes will be fully funded under the current 2014-2020 Multiannual Financial Framework. Leaving the EU with a deal remains the government’s top priority.

To provide certainty for UK organisations, the Chancellor announced in August and October 2016 that, in if the UK leaves the EU without a deal, the government would guarantee certain EU projects agreed before we leave the EU in order to provide more certainty for UK organisations over the course of EU exit. This includes ETC programmes.

In July 2018, the government extended the guarantee to any UK organisation that secures funding from EU programmes until the end of 2020. This covers partners that are in approved projects and includes all projects that have received final approval at programme committee level.

However, in the event the UK leaves the EU without a deal, it may mean that UK organisations are unable to continue in the majority of ETC programmes, other than PEACE IV and Interreg VA (Ireland, Northern Ireland, Scotland) as they will not have access to the programme.

How the guarantee will work

In the event that the UK leaves the EU without a deal, the EU has published a contingency regulation to enable the continuation of the PEACE IV and Interreg VA (Ireland, Northern Ireland, Scotland) programmes. The UK, Irish government and the EU have noted their commitment to the funding of both programmes regardless of the outcome of negotiations on the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. Work is underway with the European Commission to ensure that these programmes continue to operate as now. This reflects the UK’s ongoing commitment to support peace and reconciliation in the island of Ireland.

As part of a ‘final set’ of ‘no deal’ contingency measures published on 30 January 2019, the European Commission has also proposed a draft regulation that would allow the UK to continue participating in EU programmes, including ETC, in 2019 in return for continuing to contribute to the 2019 budget as if it were a member state. The government is currently analysing this proposal and its implications. The government has been clear that if the UK left the EU without a deal, the UK has obligations to the EU, and the EU has obligations to the UK, that will survive the UK’s withdrawal – and that these would need to be resolved.

The government are working as a priority to ensure UK partners can continue in ETC programmes. However, without access to programmes, there is a risk that project partners may not be able to continue working with their counterparts in other member states. Similarly, UK organisations may also not be able to continue applying to ETC programmes after the UK leaves the EU. If so, the government will provide full details on what to do to individual project partners.

Actions for project partners in approved projects

UK project partners in approved projects should continue delivering their project activity as contracted, including continuing to make payment claims.

Further communications and guidance will be sent directly to project partners updating them on next steps, including timing of events that the government intends to hold across the country to speak to organisations affected. If you have any general questions or concerns in the meantime, please contact:

Actions for applicants

Organisations interested in applying should consider the information in this technical notice and discuss with contact points / facilitators. The government's contact points and facilitators remain in place to help you apply for funding.

More information
Overview of ETC

The current ETC programmes support projects that enable businesses, universities, local and regional authorities and the voluntary and community sectors in different countries to work together on shared issues.

These programmes bring together organisations, across Europe, to collaborate in designing new solutions and approaches to economic, societal and environmental issues. Projects draw from pan European knowledge and expertise of the participating groups and individuals. A range of priorities are supported including:

  • business competitiveness
  • innovation
  • renewable energy
  • health
  • transport
  • tourism and culture
  • climate change and the environment

The UK participates in 15 ETC programmes, for which the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) oversees the overall policy and coordination across the UK.

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) oversees UK interests in the 9 programmes set out in the table below. UK interests in the other 6 programmes are overseen by the Devolved Administrations or HM Government of Gibraltar. Further details of programme oversight are provided below.

Oversight of ETC

This table shows the managing authority and the UK programme contact for ETC programmes. It shows how ETC programme oversight is shared across the devolved administrations and Gibraltar.

Managing authority and UK programme contact for ETC programmes
 Programme  Managing authority  UK programme contact
  Channel  Norfolk County Council  MHCLG
  Two Seas   Hauts de France, Lille  MHCLG
  Ireland-Wales  Welsh European Funding Office  Welsh Government
  Interreg VA   Special EU Programmes Body  Northern Ireland Executive
  PEACE IV   Special EU Programmes Body  Northern Ireland Executive
  North West Europe   Hauts de France, Lille  MHCLG
  Atlantic Area   Regional Council of North Portugal  MHCLG
  North Sea  Danish Business Authority  MHCLG
  Northern Periphery and Arctic   County Administrative Board of Vasterbotten   Scottish Government and Northern Ireland Executive
  Mediterranean   Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur Region   HM Government of Gibraltar
  South West Europe   Cantabria Government   HM Government of Gibraltar
  Interreg Europe   Hauts de France, Lille  MHCLG
  URBACT   French Government  MHCLG
  INTERACT   SG Region Bratislava  MHCLG
  ESPON   Luxembourg Government  MHCLG


Current delivery arrangements

Organisations in different EU countries apply together for funding on a competitive basis. If the application is approved, a single organisation acts as the lead partner for the whole project, on behalf of all other organisations who are involved in that project.

Each ETC programme is managed by a managing authority. The managing authority monitors the delivery of projects. The lead partner signs an agreement with the managing authority of the programme, with a partnership agreement governing relationships between all project partners. The lead partner coordinates the claims and payments for all project partners through a process that involves the managing authority and the European Commission.

The UK has 2 UK-based managing authorities and 1 joint North-South managing authority between Northern Ireland and Ireland. These managing authorities manage programmes on behalf of the EU countries who participate in each programme.

The ETC programmes are funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), via contributions by the UK, other EU countries and third countries (non-EU countries). Projects also receive supplementary funds from private co-financing.