Central Europe

Region's countries

The Central Europe cooperation area includes a vast territory from the southern area, bordering the Adriatic Sea to the northern area, bordering the Baltic Sea. The 2021-2027 cooperation area substantially coincides with the whole extension of the previous Interreg Programme, covering the entire area of seven EU Member States (Austria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia), the central and eastern regions of Germany (now also including the region of Braunschweig) and the northern regions of Italy. A map comparing the old and new borders can be seen here.


Policy framework

1.     Transnational cooperation programme

The INTERREG V B aims to promote cooperation beyond borders to make Central Europe cities and regions better places to live and work.

The 2021-2027 Programme recognises that Central Europe is in a time of transition. Its regions and cities are facing numerous challenges (including climate change) that know no borders and cannot be solved alone. The programme vision is a united central Europe that cooperates to become smarter, greener and better connected. It finances transnational projects, which develop, test and implement solutions that are urgently needed to make central Europe more resilient and attractive.

The Programme is expected to achieve:

  • Improved policy development, learning, and change;
  • Increased knowledge and capacity, including the knowledge transfer and exchange;
  • Better coordinated cooperation and enhanced governance at different levels;
  • Reduced barriers;
  • New or better services;
  • Behavioural change;
  • Leverage of public and private funds, including the preparation for follow-up investments.

The Programme focusses on four priorities:

  • Cooperating for a smarter central Europe
  • Cooperating for a greener central Europe
  • Cooperating for a better connected central Europe
  • Improving governance for cooperation in central Europe.

Climate change adaptation is particularly addressed by Priority 2, under the Specific Objective: ‘Promoting climate change adaptation and disaster risk prevention and disaster resilience, taking into account eco-system based approaches’. Transnational cooperation actions under this objective are expected to achieve increased capacities to improve resilience and to timely counteract unfavourable climate change impacts in central Europe. They will also improve the coordination of adaptation measures and will favour the deployment of novel solutions which have been tested and demonstrated in pilot actions. Climate change adaptation will also benefit of actions developed according to Priority 1, that aims to improve and modernise skills of people locally and to Priority 4, that aims at improving multi-sectoral governance processes at all territorial levels. Actions undertaken to meet both these objectives will improve the enabling conditions to face common challenges of the regions, as climate change.

For the period 2014-2020, climate change adaptation was addressed as one among several environment-related sub-topics within Priority 3 of the Programme (Natural and cultural resources for sustainable growth in the region). It was more specifically covered within the objective aiming to improve integrated environmental management capacities for the protection and sustainable use of natural heritage and resources. In addition, the vulnerability of urban areas to climate change was identified as an issue under a further objective on “the improvement of environmental management of functional urban areas to make them more liveable places”. Finally, adaptation was part of the horizontal principles of the programme, particularly ‘sustainable development’ that includes actions to take into account climate change mitigation and adaptation, disaster resilience and risk prevention and management.

 

2.     Macro-region strategies

Interreg Central Europe plays an important bridging function between the four EU macro-regional strategies, namely the EUSDR, EUSALP, EUSAIR and EUSBSR. The Central Europe region shares parts of its cooperation area with all of them which are dealing with climate adaptation on their transnational cooperation agendas in varying ways (see Climate-ADAPT pages on the DanubeAlpine Space,  Adriatic-Ionian, and Baltic Sea regions).

 

3.     International conventions and other cooperation initiatives

The Central Europe region partially overlaps with the perimeters of the Carpathian Convention  and the Danube River Protection Convention (DRPC), which are almost entirely included in the Danube transnational region.

The Carpathian Convention is a subregional treaty to foster the sustainable development and the protection of the Carpathian region. It has been signed in May 2003 by seven Carpathian States (out of which four countries are part of the Central Europe Transnational Region). At the Fifth meeting of the Conference of Parties to the Carpathian Convention (COP5, 2017) an amendment to the Carpathian Convention was adopted to include the new Article 12bis on Climate Change. It requests Parties to pursue policies aiming at climate change mitigation and adaptation in all sectors relevant to the Convention. Consequently, the long term Vision 2030 for the Carpathian area was established ‘to strengthen collaborative efforts towards a climate-neutral path that delivers climate-resilient and sustainable development in the Carpathians’.

The Danube River Protection Convention (DRPC) forms the overall legal instrument for co-operation on transboundary water management in the Danube River Basin. Fourteen countries (out of which seven are also part of the Central Europe Transnational region) and the European Union have committed themselves to implement this Convention. The International Commission for the Protection of the Danube River (ICPDR) is the transnational body which has been established to implement the Danube River Protection Convention.  The ICPDR works towards managing flood risks in sustainable ways. The Flood Protection Expert Group (FP EG) supports the implementation of the Action Programme for Sustainable Flood Protection in the Danube River Basin. It also assists implementing the activities related to the implementation of the EU Floods Directive, such as the development of flood hazard and risk maps and the Danube River Basin Flood Risk Management Plan.

 

4.     Adaptation strategies and plans

Existing transnational and cross-border strategies and plans addressing adaptation concerns that are relevant for parts of the Central Europe region, have an overriding focus on water resource and flood risk management in the Danube River basin. The Strategy on Adaptation to Climate Change of the International Commission for the Protection of the Danube River (ICPDR) as well as the relevance of the Danube River Basin Management Plan (DRBM Plan) and the Danube Flood Risk Management Plan (DFRM Plan) for adaptation are described in Danube transnational region section of Climate-ADAPT.

For the Carpathian area, a specific region of Central Europe, the Action Plan issued in 2020 accompanying the Long-term Vision 2030 “towards combating climate change in the Carpathians” sets out concrete activities and milestones to achieve the strategic objectives and related targets of the vision. The Action Plan shall provide overall guidance for the Working Group on Climate Change (established within the framework of the Carpathian Convention) and related workplans.  

 

Examples of projects funded in the 2014–2020 period.

Examples of projects funded by the Central Europe Programme 2014-2020 dealing with climate change adaptation are reported below. They mainly focus on water management and disaster risk reduction (from floods, heavy rains, droughts) and on the protection of cultural heritage from the effects of climate change.

Responding to growing problem pressure in the region, due to increasing frequency and intensity of local extreme precipitation events, the RAINMAN project (Integrated Heavy Rain Risk Management) (2017-2020) collected available information on heavy rain risk management and developed practice-oriented tools and innovative methods. The RAINMAN Toolbox was delivered as final output of the project. The toolbox is an information platform that supports municipalities and local and regional stakeholders in taking action against heavy rain events. It offers key facts, tools to manage risky situations and good practices.

The PROLINE-CE (Efficient Practices of Land Use Management Integrating Water Resources Protection and Non-structural Flood Mitigation Experiences) project (2016-2019), that involved partners from 7 countries in the Central Europe region aimed to improve the protection of drinking water resources as well as the protection of regions against floods and droughts in an integrated land use management approach, taking adaptation to climate change into account. Best management practices were tested in pilot areas of the region and their acceptance by stakeholders and experts was evaluated. The Transnational Guide towards an Optimal WAter REgime (GOWARE) was designed as a Decision Support Tool, enabling the selection of best management practices to improve the drinking water protection and flood risk mitigation. The DriFLU Charta (Drinking water/Floods/Land use), a joint declaration act signed by notable representatives of each partner country, though not legally binding, it is a statement of intent to provide recommendations for common policies and actions in the field of drinking water protection and related flood/drought mitigation in the Central Europe programme area.

DEEPWATER-CE project (2019-2022) aims at developing integrated environmental management capacities of responsible public actors of Central Europe to build a joint water resource management strategy. It includes the retention of excess water from periods of heavy rainfall that can be used to recharge groundwater. Pilot studies in four countries (Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, Croatia) allow to assess available managed aquifer recharge solutions to improve and increase groundwater resources. The project, building on results of relevant previous FP7 and H2020 projects, explores solutions to the depletion of drinking water resources and to increasingly frequent heavy rains and floods, induced by climate change.

With a similar focus, the TEACHER-CE project (Joint efforts to increase water management adaptation to climate changes in Central Europe, 2020-2022) addresses the need for better risk management coordination in Central Europe. Thus, it aims to integrate and harmonize results of previously funded INTERREG, Horizon2020, and Life projects. The main project output is the TEACHER-CE Toolbox that focuses on climate-proof management of water related issues such as floods, heavy rain and drought risk prevention, small water retention measures and protection of water resources through sustainable land-use management. The toolbox is being tested and verified in 9 pilot actions of 8 countries of the Central Region.

The main objective of the FramWat project (Framework for improving water balance and nutrient mitigation by applying small water retention measures, 2017-2020) was to strengthen the regional, common framework for floods, droughts and pollution mitigation. This should be done by increasing the buffer capacity of the landscape using the natural based solution approach and small water retention measures in a systematic way. The project results included Practical Guidelines on Planning Natural and Small Water Retention Measures, a Decision Support System for Planning of Natural (Small) Water Retention Measures, and six Action Plans for pilot catchments involved in the project.

Project (Risk assessment and sustainable protection of Cultural Heritage in changing environment, 2017-2020) contributed to an improvement of capacities of the public and private sectors to mitigate the impacts of climate change and natural hazards (floods and heavy rains) on cultural heritage sites, structures, and artefacts. The project delivered a web GIS tool for risk mapping, a decision support tool for the analysis of the critical issues determining the vulnerability of cultural heritage, and a manual in support of policy and decision makers of good and bad practices for the management of cultural heritage at risk. Findings from ProteCHt2save and the Web GIS tool itself are further developed in a new follow up project, the STRENCH project (STRENgthening resilience of Cultural Heritage at risk in a changing environment through proactive transnational cooperation, 2020-2022).

Other projects with significant impact on the Central Europe region are funded by the Danube Area Interreg Programme and are described in the Danube region  webpage.