Programme Thematic Objectives
The programme partners wants to make better use of its strong technological knowledge position on key technologies such as digital technologies, photonics, advanced and at the same time sustainable materials, biotech, chemical technology and nano-tech within the strongly represented clusters of manufacturing industry and life sciences & health. Other sectors are not excluded. Moreover, the programme area possesses leading knowledge and research institutes, as well as several world leading innovation campuses. Research and innovation has always been a successful and ‘broad’ priority in previous programmes. The programme partners intend to build on previous efforts, by trying to develop and attract new technologies and also to apply the knowledge present in the grand societal transitions in the fields such as Industry 4.0 and Health.
The two societal challenges of Industrial Transition and Healthier inhabitants outlined in the strategy will be given a strong focus in strengthening the innovation system.
RSO 1.1 Developing and enhancing research and innovation capacities and the uptake of advanced technologies
In order to further strengthen the innovative strength of the programme area, cross-border promotion of innovation and cooperation between SMEs is important. The emphasis lies on initiating direct cooperation between SMEs themselves. Knowledge institutes play a (secondary) role as potential knowledge providers under this objective. The aim is to strengthen the innovation and internationalisation potential of SMEs and reinforce their competitiveness and growth potential in the programme area on the short term.
RSO 1.3 Enhancing sustainable growth and competitiveness of SMEs and job creation in SMEs, including by productive investments
Promoting renewable energy is about climate change mitigation. Increasing the share of renewable energy sources diminishes the CO2 emissions. Several types of action are intended under this specific objective, in order to stimulate innovative solutions for sustainable energy generation. The proposed activities are closely linked to addressing the challenges with regards to speeding up the programme area’s transition into a leading green economy and society in Europe (‘Industrial Transition’ and ‘Green Transformation’). In short, Interreg Meuse-Rhine (NL-BE-DE) strongly focuses on leveraging the available knowledge and expertise in the cross-border region to roll out close-to-market renewable energy solutions.
RSO 2.2 Renewable energy
RSO 2.4 Promoting climate change adaptation and disaster risk prevention and resilience, taking into account eco-system based approaches
This specific objective focuses on climate change adaptation and disaster risk prevention and resilience. The programme partners are determined to anticipate the adverse effects of climate change and to take appropriate action to prevent or minimise the damage it can cause. Cities and towns across the region are increasingly being forced to mitigate the risks and consequences of events related to climate change. As a densely populated area with critical infrastructure such as transport networks, power grids, water supplies and substantial building stock, the Meuse-Rhine area already faces a wide range of natural and man-made risks and is particularly vulnerable to additional risk of extreme weather events. Such events can have dramatic consequences for life and limb, but also for economic development and social cohesion. The programme therefore is on seizing upon the opportunity to engage public and private stakeholders to develop and implement climate change solutions in a cross-border context, to adapt to current climate change and disaster risk challenges and to progress towards a green, climate-resilient society. For humans, adaptation aims to moderate or avoid harm, and exploit opportunities; for natural systems, humans may intervene to help adjustment.
RSO 2.6 Circular economy
The programme wants to support measures that accelerate the transition to a circular economy. This is essential, as partner regions from Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands have to speed up their efforts to achieve their climate goals. Moreover, the COVID-19 crisis has showcased the dependency of Europe’s industry on non-EU countries for raw materials and electronic components. Hence, transitioning towards a circular economy could bring net benefits to the programme area in terms of reduced material inputs and associated labour and energy costs, as well as reduced carbon emissions along entire supply chains. This includes the implementation of ‘biobased’ value chains, where raw materials are replaced by sustainable biobased raw materials. As Industrial Transition is closely interlinked with circular economy, innovation topics like robotics, artificial intelligence, data, 3D printing, and Internet of Things play an important role in feedstock transition and thus have to be taken into account in progressing towards a circular economy. The combination of applying advanced technologies and innovative businesses must pave the way to a greener economy.
This specific objective involves enhancing the effectiveness of labour markets and improving access to quality employment across borders. Accelerating cross-border cooperation with regards to increased labour mobility and improving the match between labour demand and education supply throughout the programme area is key to ensure workforce resilience and economic prosperity. The future of work in the Meuse-Rhine area requires three types of changes across the workforce: attraction of new talent on the one hand and upskilling, and reskilling. These challenges are particularly acute concerning the Industry 4.0 transition. The industry will experience a magnitude of change because they often employ large numbers of people and because the predictable and repetitive nature of many operational tasks makes it particularly suitable for automation or digitisation
Besides enabling the industrial transition, labour market measures are indispensable when it comes to moving towards a green society. In order to meet the future demand for ‘green jobs’ (e.g. construction/renovation workers, eco-construction specialists or sustainable energy engineers), workers require employment support and retraining.
Additionally, the Border Orientation Paper has outlined specific challenges concerning the health sector. This sector is helped most when the recognition of diplomas and qualifications is harmonised between the three countries working together in the programme.
RSO 4.1 Enhancing the effectiveness and inclusiveness of labour markets and access to quality employment through developing social infrastructure and promoting social economy
RSO 4.2 Improving equal access education, training and lifelong
It is important to improve access to and the quality of education, training and lifelong learning across borders with a view to increasing the educational attainment and skills levels thereof as to be recognised across borders. This applies to all knowledge levels and all forms of education. With the presence of 8 universities, 29 universities of applied sciences, and 265.000 students, the programme area’s educational infrastructure is well positioned to increase skills levels in order to meet future demands of the cross-border labour market, including the influx of young workers into the labour force.
That is why Interreg Meuse-Rhine (NL-BE-DE)’s activities focus on moving towards new forms of education and lifelong learning, combining them where possible. Moving towards Industry 4.0 and Healthier inhabitants, the uptake of key enabling technologies, and growing investments in the energy transition will go hand-in-hand with promoting revisions of student curriculums, interdisciplinarity in teaching and more intensive education-industry collaborations across borders. There are specific challenges regarding the quality of education, training and lifelong learning concerning the health sector. Moreover, cross-border study programmes, diplomas and strategic actions focusing on mutual language learning will further improve the access to and the quality of education, training and lifelong learning across borders. These combined efforts are essential in addressing the societal challenges Industrial Transition, Green Transformation, Healthier inhabitants and Live and Work without Borders.
RSO 4.5 Ensuring equal access to health care and fostering resilience of health systems
The programme aim to enhance the cross-border cooperation in the area of health care and health services, in order to promote the equal and timely access to quality, sustainable and affordable health care (services). We do not have to focus only on innovation, but also on the practical trainings on innovation and the implementation. There is a long lasting cooperation on emergency care in the Meuse-Rhine area (since the late 1990s). The emergency cooperation in the programme area includes 57 hospitals (including 3 academic hospitals), 70 rescue services and 9 dispatch centres. In such a densely populated area, economies of scale through the pooling of resources or via an integrated specialisation system for health care centres could bring many advantages to both patients and social security systems. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has shown that the health system comes under enormous pressure due to a large influx of patients.
RSO 4.6 Enhancing the role of culture and sustainable tourism
The programme want to focus with this specific objective entirely on the grand societal challenge of ‘Tourism in a high quality region’. The intention is to support the tourism sector to recover from the COVID 19-crisis and to develop further. To assess the need for joint coordinated actions, two stakeholder sessions with relevant tourism actors from different regions have been organised. These sessions pointed out broad support for coordinated actions on tourism.
Despite the implementation of successive Interreg programmes, border regions still face border obstacles that hinder economic and social interaction across borders. In border regions, different legislations and administrative traditions may clash. In addition, there are information backlogs and infrastructural bottlenecks, which have an impact on the free movement of people, goods and services.
RSO 6.2 Enhance efficient public administration
RSO 6.3 Build up mutual trust
with this objective the programme wants to enable people-to-people actions by, for, through and with inhabitants. The aim is to raise awareness for cross-border cooperation among inhabitants and entrepreneurs, to enhance the experience in the border area, to improve the quality of life of the inhabitants of the programme area and to build up mutual trust. The available resources for this specific objective will be deployed entirely through a small projects fund for small projects in the form of mainly people-to-people actions to stimulate cross-border meetings, cooperation and overcome everyday problems for inhabitants and entrepreneurs has proven its added value in previous Interreg programmes in the area and clearly meets a need. The aim is to achieve more long-term cooperation between actors.
See the list of all projects at
Last open call closed on 14th April 2023Call 1
Working together, across borders
In the next programme period, we will fund projects in the following fields, the so-called priority axes:
A smarter Meuse-Rhine area
Our intention is to make better use of the strong technological knowledge position on key technologies within the clusters of the manufacturing industry as well as life sciences and health.
Projects can work on the following topics:
- Developing and enhancing research and innovation capacities and the uptake of advanced technologies
- Enhancing sustainable growth and competitiveness of SMEs and job creation in SMEs.
A greener, low-carbon Meuse-Rhine area
In the next programme period, we will support projects that foster greener growth in the border region of the Netherlands, Germany, and Belgium. Following the Paris Agreement and the European Green Deal, we want to play our part and help projects that facilitate a transition to a green society and economy.
We are looking for project ideas on these themes:
- Promoting renewable energy
- Enhancing climate change adaptation and disaster risk prevention and resilience, taking into account ecosystem-based approaches
- Advancing the transition to a circular and resource-efficient economy
A more social Meuse-Rhine area
The programme offers a wide array of topics in this field:
- Encouraging the effectiveness and inclusiveness of labour markets and access to quality employment through developing social infrastructure and promoting a social economy
- Improving equal access to inclusive and quality services in education, training, and lifelong learning through developing accessible infrastructure
- Fostering resilience for distance and online education and training
- Ensuring equal access to health care and fostering resilience of health systems, and promoting the transition to family-based and community-based care
- Enhancing sustainable tourism in economic development, social inclusion, and social innovation
Better cooperation governance in the Meuse-Rhine area
This theme is made for project ideas that will improve the quality of life for the residents in our region in the broadest sense of the word, by reducing or removing border barriers, and therefore improving cross-border cooperation.
- Supporting efficient public administration by promoting legal and administrative cooperation and cooperation between citizens, civil society actors, and institutions, in particular, with a view to resolving legal and other obstacles in border regions
- Building up mutual trust, in particular by encouraging people-to-people action
- +31 6 25 68 24 82
- c/o Provincie Limburg
PO Box: Postbus 5700, 6202 MA, Maastricht
Office address: Limburglaan 10, 6229 GA, Maastricht
Rob van Vugt, Coordinator
Jean-Philippe Odeurs, Senior Programme Manager
Paul Heuts, Policy Officer
- +32 (0)87 78 96 40
- c/o Provincie Limburg
PO Box: Postbus 5700 NL 6202 MA Maastricht
Office address: Limburglaan 10 6229 GA Maastricht