Project partnership

The main rule is that an Interreg Aurora project needs to have at least two partners whereof at least one shall be from an EU-member state. An EGTC (European Grouping of Territorial Cooperation) however can act as a sole partner.

Partners shall cooperate in the development and implementation of Interreg operations, as well as in the staffing or financing, or both, thereof.

The nature of cooperation of a project is reflected through the following criteria:

  • Joint development means that your project proposal must clearly integrate the ideas, expectations, priorities and contributions from all participating partners. The partners should share the understanding of the project needs and contribute to achieve the results.
  • Joint implementation means that activities must be carried out and coordinated by all participating partners. There must be a balanced distribution of tasks and responsibilities, links between the activities of each partner and regular contacts.
  • Joint staffing means that the project should divide the tasks and that the project structure should not duplicate functions if not necessary. There should preferably be one joint project manager, one joint financial manager etc. for the whole project. Normally, these would be the lead partner’s responsibility. For Aurora though, there can be duplicate functions regards to the administrative tasks of managing the funds separately for EU and Norway respectively.
  • Joint financing means that the different partner budgets form together the joint budget for the whole project. There is only one EU-funding decision per project and in cases where Norwegian partners participate there is only one IR-funding decision per project.

Partnerships in Aurora projects are mainly built on 2 types of partners: Lead Partner and Project partners. The Lead Partner can be any of the partners but please note that financial issues need to be administered by an EU-partner for the EU-support (Lead Partner EU) and by a Norwegian partner for the IR-support (Lead Partner Norway). The project can as well have so called associated partners, but they are not formally a part of the partnership in Aurora projects as they don’t take part of the EU-support nor the IR-support.

All partners must have the financial, administrative and operational capacity to be able to run a cross-border project. The tasks of the Lead Partner are stipulated in the EU-regulations and involves taking additional responsibilities and coordinating of the project on behalf of all the project partners. This in turn means that the demands on a Lead Partner are higher than those on other project partners. Therefore, all project applications must demonstrate that the Lead Partner has the capability to manage a cross-border project. The selected Lead Partner is part of the project partnership. The most important factor to succeed as a Lead Partner is that the relevant experience is in place, especially when the cooperation involves different types of organisations from different countries. The Lead Partner needs the relevant experience and understanding of the task.

The project must have a steering group that makes the overall decisions about the project’s implementation. The steering group shall monitor that the activities are in line with the results that the project is to achieve and work to ensure that the project is completed within the set time. The steering group should have good knowledge of the activities that are conducted and have an interest in the development that takes place within the project. A strong involvement of the steering group gives better opportunities for the steering group to actively support the implementation.

In Interreg Aurora there can be a split of the LP role regarding the administrative tasks concerning the ERDF-funding and the IR-funding respectively vs the role as a project leader:

The Lead partner EU (LP EU) is formally the final beneficiary of the ERDF funding (this is always a Swedish or Finnish partner). This partner handles the payment applications and transactions regarding the ERDF-funding and is hence responsible for producing the documents required for payments of the ERDF-funding.

The Lead partner Norway (LP Norway) is formally the final beneficiary of the IR-funding (a Norwegian partner). This partner handles the payment applications and transactions regarding the IR-funding and are hence responsible for producing the documents required for payments of the IR-funding.

The project leader is normally the internal contact body for questions within the project partnership and is normally the main contact point for the Joint Secretariat. For projects that operate with both EU-partners and Norwegian partners, the project leading responsibilities can be delegated to either LP EU or LP Norway (except for the role as final beneficiary of the EU-funding and Norwegian funding respectively). The project leading role includes being responsible for the overall project management and the delivery of project reports, project outputs as well as having a person in the role as main contact for the Joint Secretariat.

Ensuring the correct mix of partners in a project is crucial to achieving genuine cooperation and successful results. In general, all partners should have the capacity and knowledge in the project subject area to participate fully and to deliver the products and/or services. For all projects, at least two eligible project partners from two different programme partner countries are required.  In addition, all partners need to have the administrative capacity and adequate resources required to participate in an Interreg project. Furthermore, all partners are required to provide supporting documents needed by the Managing Authorityg/Norwegian Managing Organisation, Joint Secretariat, controllers or auditors. Where suitable, partnerships should try to involve a cross-sector of partners from the national, regional, and local level. To develop tangible and viable products and services, it is essential to have the appropriate partnership constellation capable of developing and implementing the project outcomes. Your project application will be judged on the partnership constellation, and this can be a deciding factor in the project’s approval.                                 
Partnership agreements
An agreement between the lead partner and its project partners must be concluded according to the EU-regulations. The partnership agreement formalizes the division of mutual responsibilities and rights of partners. Issues that are to be stipulated in the partnership agreement depend on the specific needs of each project. However, the partnership agreement should as a minimum cover the arrangements with the other partners that, guarantee the sound financial management of the Union funds allocated to the Interreg operation, including the arrangements for recovering amounts unduly paid. 

For an example – see Interact fact sheet on partnership agreement