The Austrian - Hungarian border region

The Austrian - Hungarian border region has an important bridge-building function between Western and Eastern Europe and stretches along a main corridor between the Baltic and Adriatic Sea. For the last ten years, this excellent geographic location has contributed to an economic growth above average. 

The border region has about 3.7 Mio inhabitants and shows several strengths and positive economic trends: a growing number of companies in the whole region, a dynamic services sector, a well educated labour force, a sufficient supply of commercial space, innovation and technology centres, various clusters, cross-border network activities and areas of high agrarian value.
Furthermore, the border region abounds in natural resources and a large number of eco-systems. A distinctive feature is the abundance of thermal as well as mineral springs and of important sites of common cultural heritage.

Programme objectives and thematic areas of cooperation

The EU-funded ETC-Programme (European Territorial Cooperation) supports cross-border cooperation projects in the border region Austria - Hungary. The main objective of the programme is to intensify cross-border contacts in the areas of economy, social affairs, culture and ecology, in order to strengthen the regional competitiveness and diminish regional disparities.  
Austria and Hungary have a long history of cross-border cooperation. The continuous exchange between the two countries has become commonplace for people and companies. This positive development is to be encouraged further: The programme co-finances projects that are developed jointly and aim at a sustainable and innovative use of the common regional potential

The programme's efforts concentrates on two thematic areas of cooperation - the so called priorities, which comprise distinctive objectives and activity fields.  

In order to receive funding a cross-border project must be in line with these  priorities and activities as well as their objectives.
  

Priority 1
Innovation, integration and competitiveness
...promotes the development of an economically competitive region by supporting entrepreneurship, innovation, research & development, human resources, tourism and networks and clusters. The activities ought to stimulate and intensify cooperation and innovation among the economic and social actors in the region.

Priority 2
Sustainable development and accessibility

...promotes environmental protection, equal opportunities, social cohesion, economic growth and sustainable development in the programme region. Projects in the areas of eco-mobility or transport improve internal and external accessibility, which is also an important prerequisite for economic development. Initiatives in the areas of economic development, environment and nature as well as social and cultural cooperation will bring forward a positive development of the border region. 

Each priority comprises three activity fields:

Priority 1
1.1 Promote economic cooperation
1.2 Increase the sustained growth of labour
1.3 Ensure the quality of social infrastructure and public services

Priority 2
2.1 Improve eco-mobility, transport and regional accessibility
2.2 Enhance cross-border governance system
2.3 Improve the management of natural resources

Financing

The cross-border cooperation programme Austria - Hungary is financed through the European Funds for Regional Development (ERDF). The total programme budget amounts to 101m €. The EU contributes ERDF-resources to the amount of 82m €, the member states Austria and Hungary provide 18.5m € of national co-financing. 
Projects receive funding from the EU up to a maximum of 85% of their total costs, while national public co-financing has to be ensured in a ratio of at least 15:85. 

The table shows the financial allocation by priority and activity fields.

Programme area

The core programme area comprises eight NUTS III regions: These are the Austrian regions Wien, Wiener Umland - Südteil, Nord-, Mittel- and Südburgenland and the Hungarian regions Győr-Moson-Sopron, Vas and Zala. The NUTS III regions Niederösterreich Süd and Oststeiermark are so called adjoining regions.
In order to receive funding from the programme project activities must be realised in the programme area.

Project partners

The following legal entities may act as Lead Partner or Partner können:
- public or public equivalent bodies
- non-profit organisations
- other institutions that act in the public interest at project level

These are for instance: national, regional or local authorities, municipalities, universities, bodies mainly financed or governed by public institutions, non-profit organisations and associations.

Not eligible are: Private individuals, parties, direct subsidies to individual enterprises and profit-oriented activities within the framework of the project.

A project partnership must consists of at least one Austrian and one Hungarian organisation. One of these must act as Lead Partner and take responsibility for the general management.
The Lead Partner organisation coordinates the project development and submits the completed application at the Joint Technical Secretariat. It is further responsible for the implementation of the joint project and the project management. This means that the ERDF contract is concluded between the Lead Partner and the Managing Authority alone, and that all project related communication is channeled exclusively through the Lead Partner.

Programme status

To date had the Joint Monitoring Commitee altogether 15 meetings and a total of 88 projects receives funding through the programme.

The table shows all approvals per activity field and round.
The current total commitment of programme funds is 100 %.
An overview of all approved and contracted projects can be found under "Projects". Moreover, the complete list of beneficiaries can be viewed here. 


Results of the Joint Monitoring Committee Meetings

The last two meetings (14. and 15.) of the Joint Monitoring Committee were organised on 5th Mai 2014 (Sopron) and 20th November 2014 (Vienna). There was only one project submitted in the fourteenth meeting, which was also aprooved.

In its thirteenth meeting on 27th November 2013 in Bad Tatzmannsdorf (Burgenland) the Joint Monitoring Committee approved 3 projects out of 4 submitted project applications. Two of the approved projects have the status of reserve projects.

In its twelfth meeting on the 25th June 2013 in Kőszeg (County Vas) the Joint Monitoring Committee approved three projects out of 9 submitted project applications. Two of them were approved as reserve projects.

In the eleventh meeting of the Joint Monitoring Committee on the 4th and 5th December 2012 in Lanzenkirchen (Lower Austria), 11 out of a total of 19 submitted projects were approved, 7 of which are conditional approvals. Herewith the total commitment of the programme funds has reached 100 %.
One approved project was put on the reserve list and will receive an ERDF-contract, if enough funds flow back from other, already closed projects.

Out of our projects in Lower Austria, we selected the project RegionCo for a visit. We have learnt a lot about ionic therapy during a presentation, and during a tour could admire the high-tech medical facility MedAustron which is to go in operation fully in 2015 in Wiener Neustadt.

The tenth meeting took place in Hévíz, Zala county on the 30th and 31st May 2012. Of the 13 projects submitted, 9 were approved by the Joint Monitoring Committee, 3 of which are conditional approvals. The number of approved projects increased to 71.

During the ninth meeting on 23-24. November 2011, which was held in Bad Waltersdorf, the Joint Monitoring Committee approved 5 out of the 8 projects submitted. There are 3 conditional approvals. The sponsorship grant for one project approved in the sixth meeting had to be withdrawn. The number of the projects approved within the program has herewith changed to 62.

The location of the eight meeting of the Joint Monitoring Committee (13.-14. April. 2011) was Lipót in Hungary.  After the regular update on the status quo of the program, 8 of the submitted 15 projects were approved, of which 6 were conditional approvals. The total number of the approved projects herewith increased to 58.

The seventh meeting was held in the Vienna City Hall on 30.11.-01.12.2010. While heavy snowfall transformed the outside into a winter wonderland, engaged discussions were led inside. A short workshop, moderated by INTERACT, afforded the committee members the rare opportunity to discuss quality criteria for ETC-projects in theory and practice and reflect without the ususal pressure the decisions taken. The later agenda meant business as usual: Aside from the regular reports about status quo and activities of the programme 3 of 6 submitted project applications were approved.

15 projects were submitted for the sixth meeting of the Joint Monitoring Committee on 23.-24. June in Rust (Burgenland). 6 applications were successful, and of these 4 are conditional approvals. The total number of approved projects is now 47.

The fifth meeting of the Joint Monitoring Committee on 24-25 November 2009 in Szombathely was mainly dedicated to the strategy discussion about how to use the remaining programme funds. The members of the JMC agreed to continue with the principle of open submission without calls and to avoid any limits. Furthemore, they decided to keep funds available for new projects until at least 2011 and not to shift funds between priorities. Finally, two formerly postponed projects were approved , so that the total number of all approved projects has risen to 41. The total committment of funds adds up to ca. 60%.

In the forth meeting of the Joint Monitoring Committee on 2-3 June 2009 in Krumbach (Lower Austria) and on 2 July 2009 in the castle Hof more projects were approved. 11 out of 24 submitted applications were successful, of which 9 are conditional approvals.

The third meeting of the Joint Monitoring Committee took place on 2 and 3 December 2008 on the utmost edge of the programme area. In the Styrian Bad Radkersburg at the borde to Slovenia the JMC approved 14 our of 20 submitted project applications.

The second meeting of the Joint Monitoring Committee (JMC) during the current programming period took place on the 8th and 9th of July 2008 in Hungary. The venue Vonyarcvashegy, whose pronounciation was a challenge to the German speaking participants, offered a splendid view of the Lake Balaton. Due to the packed agenda, however, opportunities for relaxation while enjoying the view came along only rarely during the two days of the meeting. Besides discussing basic questions and issues in connection with the programme and its procedures, the first group of project proposals was awaiting decision by the JMC. Two marathon meetings (9 and 12 hours), 27 rounds of discussion and reams of coffees later, consensus was reached for all submitted applications: Of a total of 27 project applications 14 were approved, including 10 approvals with conditions.

The first - constituent - meeting of the Joint Monitoring Committee aimed primarily at the approval of important programme documents like the Rules of Procedure and the so called Programme Manual. The Programme Manual regulates amongst others the projct selection (selection criteria, evaluation procedure, etc).