Interreg POCTEFA (Spain – France – Andorra)

  • Programme Thematic Objectives

    • A smarter Europe – innovative and smart economic transformation

        RSO 1.1 Developing and enhancing research and innovation capacities and the uptake of advanced technologies

        • Create a common space for knowledge and innovation, fostering digital transformation and sustainable growth.

        • The programme contributes to consolidating collaborative networks between science and innovation actors in the territory and to strengthening common research and innovation capacities. The programme wants to capitalise on its successes and other cross-border cooperation initiatives to increase the participation of companies in the research and innovation effort.

          The mobility of human capital between the entities of the scientific and innovation system and between them and companies, can be a tool that contributes to knowledge transfer as well as the creation and development of research and innovation capacities, by improving the understanding of business needs by the scientific community. Complementary to other instruments, actions in the cross-border field contribute to retaining talent in the territory.

          the Programme focuses its support on common priorities or cross-border complementarities in the territory's smart specialisation strategies, for example, on the incorporation of key enabling technologies (digitalisation, biotechnology, nanotechnology, manufacturing and advanced materials) in high-energy sectors. potential, or the main social issues (such as ageing) and ecological transition (circular economy, climate change mitigation and adaptation).

        RSO 1.2 Reaping the benefits of digitisation for citizens, companies, research organisations and public authorities

        • Create a common space for knowledge and innovation, fostering digital transformation and sustainable growth.

        • Digitisation is a key objective for POCTEFA. As a "global" and cross-cutting issue, it is necessary to clearly define the extent of the impetus that can be given to digitisation by cross-border cooperation, in addition to the actions that can be carried out at other levels. and which represent an added value for the territory. The development of specific applications related to e-government, public services, including information on emergency situations or risk prevention, mobility or certain key sectors of the territory can have a significant cross-border scope.

          The development of cross-border digital applications can have a significant impact on tourism, cultural activities or mobility, among others. There is also a need to improve the management of and access to public data and the creation of open data repositories and viewers of a cross-border nature, allowing the integration of national and local information sources, with the aim of ensuring transparency and digital independence.

          The digital transformation is also a challenge for industry and other key sectors of the territory, with important economic and social implications, for example with regard to the formation of human capital, to prepare the workers to operate in an increasingly digital environment. The development of digital tools has a profound and lasting impact on the progress of research; data processing and storage, computing power and security are major challenges in all scientific fields.

        RSO 1.3 Enhancing sustainable growth and competitiveness of SMEs and job creation in SMEs, including by productive investments

        • Create a common space for knowledge and innovation, fostering digital transformation and sustainable growth.

        • Cross-border cooperation and exchanges of experience contribute to the development of research capacities and the diffusion of innovation in the economy.
          To consolidate the territory's competence in intelligence and innovation and promote job creation, the programme aims at increasing the innovation effort of companies, the transfer of innovation to the market and the competitiveness of SMEs. and job creation. The sectoral composition, typology and structure of the territory's business network largely explain the disparities in the effort and exploitation of R&D results and in the degree of business participation in innovation. Even in medium- and high-tech sectors, research and innovation capabilities can be improved. The size and competitive capacities of companies are key factors in facing technological challenges and being competitive in international markets.
          Business-to-business collaboration in innovation, participation in value chains and joint projects with technology centres are fundamental tools to help companies move up the innovation and competitiveness ladder, and also to integrate organisational and market innovations. It is necessary to intensify the participation of companies in the programme and to monitor the concrete impact of the projects on their competitive situation. Support for networks and clusters facilitates the transfer of research results to the market and the business case and increases the participation of small businesses and slower growing mature sectors and thus improve their competitiveness.

    • A greener, low-carbon Europe

        RSO 2.4 Promoting climate change adaptation and disaster risk prevention and resilience, taking into account eco-system based approaches

        • Protection and consolidation of ecological values

        • The impact of climate change is one of the main challenges facing the cross-border territory. It affects habitats and species, human well-being and many economic activities, throughout the cooperation area. Certain economic sectors, such as tourism and agriculture, which are important local economic sectors for the rural areas of the cross-border territory, will have to adapt to climate change.
          The programme wants to promote cooperation to help the actors of the territory in this effort of adaptation.
          Climate change will cause an increase in extreme meteorological phenomena and the aggravation of certain natural risks. In addition to the increase and intensification of drought periods, some scenarios foresee a greater irregularity in the rainfall regime, with an increase in torrential phenomena, and an aggravation of storms, which will increase the risk of floods and landslides. ground. Avalanche risks are also high in the Pyrenees. Prolonged droughts and high summer temperatures will increase the risk of wildfires and the destructive effect of those that do occur. On the coasts, the rise in sea level can endanger many coastal areas and low-lying estuaries, areas of high ecological value.

        RSO 2.5 Promoting access to water and sustainable water management

        • Protection and consolidation of ecological values

        • The management of river basins and water resources remains an essential aspect of cross-border relations. Cooperation in the management of hydrological resources has gradually become established and there are already agreements between the authorities concerned in each basin. But we need to strengthen cooperation in the shared river basins and ensure the coordination of water quality monitoring objectives and systems, particularly on the Garonne.
          Effective management of water resources is increasingly relevant in a scenario where climate change will affect rainfall patterns and the availability of water resources. The sustainable management of the water cycle is a challenge for the cooperation between the territories of the Programme, in order to avoid an increase in conflicts over the use of water and it is necessary to raise awareness and support the actors of the territory in order to deal with water shortages.
          Similarly, the reduction and seasonal modification of precipitation (less snow and more rain in winter) will affect the quality and flow of surface waters and the replenishment of aquifers. Droughts and low water periods reduce the dilution factor of pollutants reaching rivers, leading to a deterioration in the quality of aquatic environments, while floods facilitate the dispersal and elimination of pollutants retained in the sediments. .

        RSO 2.6 Circular economy

        • Protection and consolidation of ecological values

        • In addition to contributing to the implementation of the European Green Deal in the cross-border territory, the programme helps the promotion of processes affecting key sectors of the territory's economy and which have great potential for the creation of new economic activities and jobs.
          All territories have circular economy strategies, which cover all elements of an efficient and resource-efficient economy, including the promotion of sustainable production and consumption that takes into account the whole product life cycle, from design to repair, reuse and recycling of components. The available data shows a trend of reducing waste generation, but the volume and percentage of waste going to landfill remains very high, especially in Spain, which is far from the EU average. The progress of the circular economy is visible in the increase in resource productivity (value generated by waste), which in both countries is above the EU average.
          During the period 2014-2020, POCTEFA began to support projects in the field of circular economy and waste management, as well as other initiatives focused on obtaining new materials, in order to contribute to the preservation of the environment. The programme ensures complementarity with the actions financed by the LIFE programme, as well as in the Horizon Europe programme.

        RSO 2.7 Biodiversity and green infrastructure

        • Protection and consolidation of ecological values

        • The diversity of geographical and bioclimatic conditions in the region has favored the presence of a rich biodiversity, not only in the border mountain area, but also in the rest of the territory. The territory includes a great diversity of habitats of community interest which are home to a wide variety of flora and fauna species, including a good number of threatened species of community interest.

          Biodiversity is one of the main assets of the territory, but also one of the most fragile. The most valuable habitats and species are protected by regional, national and European legislation, but there is a risk of fragmentation and degradation of habitats outside these protected areas, which makes it difficult to act as a reservoir and refuge for cataloged species of flora and fauna that live in well-managed protected areas. It is necessary to promote the protection and management of the most valuable habitats and biodiversity in the cross-border territory, in particular the habitats and species most exposed to human pressures and most threatened by the effects of climate change.

          A good number of protected areas and areas of distribution of endangered species are located in the most immediate border zone. Since nature has no administrative borders, it is necessary to ensure the continuity of the existing cooperation in the management of protected areas, habitats and species, both from the point of view of conservation and sustainable use of resources, and to extend it to the entire cross-border area.

    • A more social Europe implementing the European Pillar of Social Rights

        RSO 4.1 Enhancing the effectiveness and inclusiveness of labour markets and access to quality employment through developing social infrastructure and promoting social economy

        • Facilitate access to employment and quality training in the cross-border area

        • The cross-border mobility of workers in the Franco-Spanish-Andorran cooperation area is lower than at other European borders, partly because of the geographical barriers which make local mobility difficult, but also because of the lack of information, facilitation and support tools, as well as other barriers related to training or language skills. These obstacles impede the potential for job creation that a more integrated labour market would have, given the availability of human capital in the cross-border territory.

          Greater convergence and collaboration between support mechanisms for job creation could also contribute to jointly addressing and correcting certain fundamental problems in labour markets, such as high unemployment rates, seasonality and job insecurity. , which are more marked in certain areas of the territory and which mainly affect young people, the immigrant population and people with low qualifications. Further integration of information and inter-mediation systems in the labour market would facilitate access to cross-border employment and could contribute to improving the monitoring of working conditions and the quality of employment.

          The impact of COVID-19 is expected to lead to a deterioration in the labour market, with a significant increase in unemployment, especially in the areas most specialised in tourism. It will therefore be all the more necessary to strengthen support mechanisms for professional integration and social intervention mechanisms, including at cross-border level. Greater transparency in labour markets, by improving awareness of job vacancies, and easier access to employment opportunities can also help reduce the consequences of the pandemic by offering new alternatives to job seekers.

        RSO 4.2 Improving equal access education, training and lifelong

        • Facilitate access to employment and quality training in the cross-border area

        • Greater rapprochement between the education and training systems in the cross-border area and closer administrative and business cooperation must be encouraged, in order to build a cross-border education and training area.
          The development of common training and qualification projects and the transparency of systems for the recognition of qualifications and skills are very powerful instruments for integrating the cross-border area, in addition to the exchanges that take place within the framework of the European Space 'Education.
          A cross-border education and training area will make it possible to take advantage of the wide range of training available in the territory, also helping to strengthen language skills and multilingualism, and will help to overcome the obstacles arising from the differences between training systems, facilitate procedures and overcome difficulties in recognising qualifications, particularly in regulated professions.

          Cross-border cooperation is particularly relevant with regard to training, since the recognition of diplomas and qualifications is essential for access to the labour market and to progress in the integration of cross-border labour markets. The reform of national systems offers an opportunity to work together to bring them closer together and to tackle obstacles to cross-border projects.

          The COVID crisis has highlighted the need for human resources and qualifications in certain sectors with high potential in the territory, such as health and social services. At the same time, it has stimulated the development of a wide range of distance courses, with the ability to bring higher education and vocational training closer to rural and mountainous areas.

        RSO 4.3 Promoting the socioeconomic inclusion

        • Building an inclusive and more socially integrated cross-border area

        • The analysis of the needs of the cross-border territory has made it possible to identify challenges and social problems shared on both sides of the borders and specific situations of social vulnerability which are particularly acute in certain border areas and with regard to certain particularly vulnerable groups or specific problems related to the presence of borders. Cross-border collaboration will make it possible to address these social risk situations in an integrated way.

          The crisis caused by COVID-19 places the cross-border territory in the face of new social challenges, the extent of which is still difficult to determine. The crisis has worsened the situation of the most vulnerable groups, those most exposed to unemployment, seasonality and precariousness. They are threatened by poverty and social exclusion. The situation of young people, in particular those with a lower level of qualification and the "NEETS", who left the education system early and could not enter the labour market, is particularly worrying and presents a serious risk of exclusion.

          Finally, certain measures aimed at dealing with vulnerable groups and at alleviating the risks of poverty or social exclusion can also be addressed by actions for the implementation of integrated strategies under the priority of territorial, social and economics associated with Strategic objective 5.

        RSO 4.5 Ensuring equal access to health care and fostering resilience of health systems

        • Building an inclusive and more socially integrated cross-border area

        • Cross-border services must be prepared to deal with health emergencies such as those caused by COVID-19, which have notably led to mobility restrictions and border closures. The European Health Pole in Cerdanya has demonstrated the difficulties and advantages of cooperation and can be extended to other social areas, in order to improve access to health and social care services for people living in border areas which have very limited access to medical services (doctors and hospitals).

          Making an opportunity of the issue of ageing and is one of the challenges that the territory will have to face in the next decade, because it is likely to continue to grow, with the economic and social consequences that this implies: reduction of the active population, increase in the cost of social and health care, etc. In some regions, ageing is combined with depopulation, dispersion and the masculinisation of the population, which increases the pressure on healthcare establishments and requires an adaptation of systems and skills. Cross-border cooperation can contribute to improving social and health care systems by exploring the possibilities offered by social innovation and by promoting the use of ICT tools.
          Health care, active and healthy ageing and the development of the "silver economy" are priorities. Social innovation can also concern issues of integration, integration and social cohesion integrating all ages of life.

        RSO 4.6 Enhancing the role of culture and sustainable tourism

        • Promote the cross-border territory as a sustainable tourist destination, develop common culture and heritage, and promote the activity and capacity of its agents.

        • The common cultural heritage is a key element of the interconnection and identity of cross-border territories. The existence of common languages is one of the most significant elements of this shared culture in the cross-border area, as well as the rich common historical and cultural heritage that continues today through cultural creation and multiple manifestations. cultures, in a culturally very dynamic border area. The program encourages cross-border cooperation that protects, recovers and promotes the common elements of culture and tangible and intangible heritage of the cross-border territory.

          Tourism is a key sector in large areas of the cross-border territory, where its contribution to GDP and employment reaches 15%, although its development is uneven. The territory has tourist resources of great value and a diversified and quality offer of tourist services. Cross-border cooperation can bring added value in terms of the tourism positioning of the destination, in order to take advantage of global tourism trends in favour of sustainable and quality tourist destinations. The territory's tourism sector institutions and organisations have worked intensively together to generate common tourism products, diversify the offer and promote the destination. Cooperation could be extended to other areas such as the management and redistribution of tourist flows, the connection between territory - heritage - tourism, the consequences of seasonality or adaptation to climate change, among others.

    • A Europe closer to citizens – sustainable and integrated development of urban, rural and coastal areas through local initiatives

        RSO 5.2 Fostering the integrated and inclusive social, economic and environmental local development, culture, natural heritage, sustainable tourism and security in areas other than urban areas

        • Strengthen the territorial, social and economic integration of the cross-border area

        • Some cross-border territories have structured and permanent cooperation initiatives at the level of rural, mountain or coastal cross-border functional areas. The strategies of these cross-border territories intervene in different fields according to their competences, strategies which are materialised by action plans which can be supported in a more effective and permanent way thanks to this objective.

          The presence of non-urban and mixed cross-border territories along a very extensive and fragmented border, with great morphological, cultural and linguistic diversity, as well as the existence of living areas with more or less consolidated cooperation dynamics, makes it desirable to implement integrated and sustainable territorial strategies, based on the participation of key players in the territory (stakeholders) in order to contribute to the political objective of building a Europe closer to its citizens. In this sense, the integrated social, economic and environmental development strategies contribute to structuring and energising cross-border areas affected by common challenges, in order to prepare a common medium-term strategy.

    • A better cooperation governance

        RSO 6.1 Enhance the institutional capacity of public authorities

        • Towards a more integrated cross-border area

        • The actions carried out here concern the consolidation of cooperation structures, the strengthening of their strategic and operational role in the cross-border territory, the development of new cooperation structures, the improvement of knowledge of the cross-border territory through the collection, processing and the dissemination of data and statistics of the territory and the improvement of efficiency in the provision of cross-border public services, avoiding the dysfunctions generated by the border.

          The improvement of institutional capacity and the intensification of administrative cooperation contribute to avoiding or reducing dysfunctions and inefficiencies in the establishment of cross-border public services. Some of these dysfunctions have been identified in areas such as employment and training, waste management and the circular economy, emergency situations, access to public services, information and the provision of services citizens, risk prevention and management. Administrative cooperation is essential.

          The collaboration between the statistical organisations on the territory will make it possible to have statistical and cartographic information of similar quality to that generated by the specialised observatories (traffic, climate change). The availability of statistics on an open data portal equipped with a cartographic viewer would contribute to providing a unified and shared view of this space and would constitute a valuable tool for inter-administrative cooperation, for example in the field of nature protection, land use planning or access to services.

        RSO 6.2 Enhance efficient public administration

        • Towards a more integrated cross-border area

        • The POCTEFA territory has observed a consolidation of cross-border cooperation structures and there is close cooperation between national and local administrations. But there are still legal and administrative barriers and obstacles resulting from the border phenomenon that make it difficult for administrations, companies and other entities, and for the citizens themselves, to take or carry out cross-border initiatives. The obstacles identified are of various types, mainly related to differences in regulatory frameworks and political-administrative organization, but also stem from the basic conditions of the territory, such as cultural and linguistic differences or geographical barriers.

          The absence of a register of regulatory and administrative obstacles detected by local actors and which allows monitoring of the measures adopted to eliminate them makes it difficult to have a precise view of the situation, and this would therefore be an initiative which could be supported by the Program , in accordance with the strengthening of the strategic and operational role of cross-border cooperation institutions. The register would also be used to improve transparency and to take decisions on the actions to be supported by the cooperation program under this objective.

          This objective supports in particular initiatives aimed at removing barriers and improving the transparency of labour markets, as well as at facilitating the mobility of workers and the provision of cross-border services. They would also help to facilitate educational exchanges and build bridges between education and training systems.

          The mechanism proposed by the European Commission to overcome legal and administrative obstacles in a cross-border context, if finally adopted, may also contribute to removing some of these obstacles.

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  • Currently there are neither job vacancies or calls for projects open for this programme

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The Spain-France-Andorra (POCTEFA 2021-2027) cooperation program aims to promote and co-finance cooperation projects carried out by French, Spanish and Andorran socio-economic agents located in the eligible cross-border area. It constitutes the fifth generation of financial support for the promotion of economic and social integration projects in this cross-border area. This European financial support offers new opportunities for cooperation between institutions and agents from both sides of the Pyrenees.

The programme improves the life of the population living in the cross-border area. One of the stakes is to enhance local, regional or interregional strategies to a cross-border scale by fostering exchanges and common knowledge. The financed projects are acting on both sides of the frontier and are preserving the territory resources.

The POCTEFA 2021-2027 is organized in calls for projects. Throughout each one of them, the actors of the territory interested in developing cross-border projects that fall into the cooperation zone must submit their candidatures to the Programme. Once presented, the Programme managing authority chooses the projects that suit the requirements of the territory and the proposal criteria. 



Map of the poctefa programme areaThe cooperation zone unites these areas :

  • Spain: Bizkaia, Gipuzkoa, Araba / Álava, Navarra, La Rioja, Huesca, Zaragoza, Lleida, Girona, Barcelona
  • France : Pyrénées-Atlantiques, Ariège, Haute-Garonne, Hautes-Pyrénées, Pyrénées-Orientales
  • Andorra : the entire territory

All these areas are eligible-except for Andorra which is not a UE member-  to receive the ERDF.



The program has identified key common challenges, grouped into 7 priorities:

  1. Create a common space for knowledge and innovation.
  2. Protection and consolidation of ecological values.
  3. Facilitate access to employment and quality training.
  4. Building an inclusive and more socially integrated cross-border area.
  5. Promote sustainable tourism and develop common culture and heritage.
  6. Strengthen the territorial, social and economic integration of the cross-border area
  7. Towards a more integrated cross-border area


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  • Département des Pyrénées Atlantiques. Direction Générale du Développement Economique et Territorial. Mission coopération transfrontalière et extérieure

  • Département des Pyrénées Atlantiques. Direction Générale du Développement Economique et Territorial. Mission coopération transfrontalière et extérieure
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