The Federal Office for Building and Regional Planning

Research Project: Thematic analysis of transnational cooperation; part A: green and blue growth

Project briefing

  • Status Completed
  • Project duration July 2013 – June 2014
  • Programme MORO

Transnational cooperation is an important objective of the EU Cohesion Policy. It contributes in different ways to achieving general European goals. In particular, Cohesion Policy supports the implementation of the Europe 2020 strategy and the Territorial Agenda 2020. In this context, two specific growth objectives have evolved during the past years: green and blue growth. In this study transnational cooperation projects were analysed in order to find out how transnational cooperation contributes to green and blue growth.

Project duration: July 2013 - June 2014


Transnational cooperation is financed by means of the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) in the context of the objective "European territorial cooperation" (INTERREG B). INTERREG B deals with European challenges that need to be jointly dealt with across national borders and sectors. In project-oriented collaboration, experiences are exchanged, successful methods and instruments are transferred and model solutions are developed. During the last programming period 2007-2013, Germany participated in five transnational cooperation areas: the Alpine Space, Central Europe, the North Sea Region, North-West Europe and the Baltic Sea Region.

This approach is continued in the new programming period 2014-2020. What is crucial is the contribution of the programmes to implementing the strategy "Europe 2020 for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth". Implementing the Europe 2020 strategy, however, may only succeed if potentials of all regions are taken into account and growth potentials are correspondingly used. This is also indicated in the Territorial Agenda 2020 (TA 2020) by mentioning the role of spatial development policy aspects in six "territorial priorities".

A special role in the framework of the sustainable growth objective of the Europe 2020 strategy is, among other things, assumed by the objectives of green and blue growth. Green growth refers to economic growth that focuses on sustainability and often also aims at growth and innovation in the field of green technologies. It is considered to be essential for long-term and sustainable development and for strengthening the competitiveness of European enterprises and stakeholders facing global competition. Blue growth describes the exploitation of the not yet (fully) utilised potentials of European oceans, seas and coastal areas for jobs and growth. According to the European Commission, the main fields of blue growth are blue energy, aquaculture, maritime, coastal and cruise tourism, marine mineral resources and blue biotechnology. In other words: Blue growth represents the maritime dimension of the Europe 2020 strategy. The mentioned sectors and themes are already today a subject of transnational cooperation projects. Therefore, transnational cooperation may already now contribute to green and blue growth without necessarily using the corresponding terminology.


This study aimed at making better use of results and experiences of transnational cooperation with regard to green and blue growth. They shall be used by spatial planning and development in the partner countries involved as well as on the regional and municipal level.

The study focuses on a thematic analysis of INTERREG IV B projects in the five cooperation areas with German participation. The analysis shows how transnational projects contribute to green and blue growth by simultaneously using regional potentials to support territorial cohesion. Examples point out how transnational cooperation contributes to implementing the Territorial Agenda 2020 in line with a territorially balanced and sustainable growth.

The more detailed objectives of this study related to themes of green and blue growth were the following:

  • to analyse experiences of transnational projects regarding their results achieved, uses and added value;
  • to show the link to other relevant policy fields in line with the Territorial Agenda 2020;
  • to illustrate how transnational projects can be used by regional and municipal stakeholders;
  • to develop recommendations how to strengthen cooperation in the future and how to develop further uses of the results achieved.

Contractor of the project was Spatial Foresight Germany GmbH, Berlin.


  • Brigitte Ahlke
    Federal Institute for Research on Building, Urban Affairs and Spatial Development
    Division RS 3 "European Spatial and Urban Development"
    Phone: +49 228 99401-2330

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