Embedding EUSDR into EU programmes 2021 – 2027

If you are a representative of a managing authority / programming authority or an EUSDR National Coordinator / Priority Area Coordinator, seeking to embed the EUSDR into EU programmes for the period 2021 – 2027, this section is for you!

NEW: 2nd EUSDR Embedding Week – A Review

The 2nd EUSDR Embedding Week, organised by the Danube Strategy Point, took place from 12 to 16 June 2023. On each day, one thematic workshop brought together, among others, EUSDR stakeholders and the programming and managing authorities, to provide a forum for joint dialogue between programmes and the EUSDR on embedding issues, moving from the programming to the implementation phase.
The 2nd EUSDR Embedding Week Review gives an overview of all thematic sessions held and summarises the discussions and findings of all five days of the event, including many useful links for further reads.


© Danube Strategy Point

And if you wish to dig deeper, get to know the six components of the comprehensive EUSDR Embedding Tool, as elaborated by the Danube Strategy Point, right here and how they can help in the Embedding process. For information on the history of the Embedding process, please scroll down.

The Guidance Paper by the Croatian EUSDR Presidency offers comprehensive instructions for the EUSDR Embedding process including a table filled in by Priority Areas to provide up to three strategic topics (per PA) and detailed description of each strategic topic (shortlist).

>>> Download here <<<

Annex 1 a to the Guidance Paper by the Croatian EUSDR Presidency is the centre piece of the Embedding tool and is considered as a rolling document to be updated continually. It…

– supported PACs in the selection of strategic topics (shortlist).
– is used by NCs when approaching Managing Authorities.
– is provided to authorities responsible for the strategic planning and programming of the ESIF/IPA III/ NDICI funds.


The Embedding Tool includes

– an overview of Actions of the EUSDR Action Plan (final SWD version of the EC as of 04/2020), which have been allocated to possible EU funds, IPA III and NDICI funds (blue sections).
an overview of the Shortlist and all strategic topics (as submitted by PACs in May 2020), which have been allocated to possible EU funds, IPA III and NDICI funds (orange sections).

The possible financing instruments refer to the Policy Objectives (PO) and Specific Objectives / intervention fields (EU-MS) as well as to IPA III Thematic priorities for assistance and NDICI Areas of cooperation for the geographic programmes & Areas of intervention for thematic programmes (non-EU).

– an overview of all actions of the EUSDR Action Plan & strategic topics, which have been aligned with

  1. a) Annexes D of the Country Reports 2019 (solely transnational and EUSDR activities);
  2. b) Annexes D of the Country Reports 2019;
  3. c) Annexes D of the Country Reports 2020 (Just Transition Fund).

It further encompasses an overview of the distribution of transnational / macro-regional topics in Annex D of the Country Report 2019 back to back with the strategic topics (green sections). The overview is based on the Policy Objectives (PO).


>> Download here <<<
(latest version as of 10/2021)

Annex 1b to the Guidance Paper by the Croatian EUSDR Presidency is a compilation of funding instrument sources to support PACs in their selection of strategic topics and NCs in approaching the MAs. The overview is based on the new Cohesion Policy regulation 2021-2027 (Regulation (EU) 2021/1060). The overview was also complemented by the contents of the single regulations of the shared managed EU programmes and the centrally managed EU programmes as well as IPA III and NDICI for non-EU countries and serves to improve the readability of the EUSDR Embedding Tool (Annex 1a) and to decipher the abbreviations therein.

>> Download here  <<<
(latest version as of 10/2021)

The EUSDR Embedding leaflet offers, on just two pages, a comprehensive overview on embedding EUSDR into EU programmes (ESIF, IPA III, NDICI).

>>> Download here <<<

This paper focuses on further potential tools and processes for embedding initiated under the Slovak EUSDR Presidency.


>>> Download here <<<


In spring 2021 the DSP conducted surveys among the managing authorities (MAs), programming authorities and National Coordinators (NCs) of the Danube Region on programming processes. Based on the results of these surveys, DSP designed two documents which provide insight into which Specific Objectives of Cohesion policy are covered by national and Interreg programmes in the Danube Region. It further displays the alignment of programmes’ thematic priorities with the actions and shortlisted topics of the EUSDR.

These overviews are to be seen as in-progress documents, taking into account incoming contributions. Within the EUSDR embedding process these documents serve as an indicative overview to support concrete embedding measures in line with the previously published EUSDR embedding documents (see above).


Download here the Consolidated Overview of Embedding Surveys of EUSDR MAs/Programming Authorities (ERDF/CF & IPA/NDICI) and National Coordinators based on surveys conducted in spring 2021. This overview comprises all MAs/programming authorities who participated in the survey so far and thus covers all 14 countries of the EUSDR. It further includes a ‘Numerical Overview of the Coverage of EUSDR Actions/Shortlisted Strategic Topics’ as well as the TOP 5 Matchmakings identified as regards the national/Interreg priorities and the EUSDR actions/shortlisted strategic topics. >>new as per 28/01/2022 and to be updated and extended with further inputs<<


Download here the results of the survey conducted among ERDF/CF managing authorities and National Coordinators. This overview is dedicated to the ERDF/CF network exclusively and was shared with and presented to the members of the ERDF/CF MA network. The focus here is on both, the POs/SOs of the ERDF/CF countries involved as well as on the thematic allocation of EUSDR priorities (sheets 2 and 3). >>new as per 13/01/2022<<


The consolidated paper of DSP from October 2021 provides an overview on monitoring the outcomes of the embedding process in the programming and implementation phases. It summarises the potential steps and information sources and highlights the different roles of (EUSDR) stakeholders.


>>> Download here <<<


Building on the previous Embedding Guidance & Discussion Papers and the surveys of Danube Region managing authorities and EUSDR National Coordinators, in this paper the Ukrainian EUSDR Presidency identified the biggest overlaps between priorities of mainstream/national/Interreg programmes and EUSDR shortlisted strategic topics, resulting in 5 TOP priorities for EUSDR embedding:


  1. Smart Danube Region
  2. Competitive Danube Region
  3. Energy efficient Danube Region
  4. Resilient Danube Region
  5. Green Danube Region

>>> Download here <<<

Following the 1st EUSDR Embedding Week, which took place from 11 to 15 July 2022, the DSP has compiled the EUSDR Embedding Week Review – Edition 2022. The booklet summarises the discussions and findings of all five days of the event and includes many useful links for further reads. The EUSDR Embedding Week was held in 2022 for the first time in the EUSDR to provide stakeholders with a concise and engaging platform for sharing multilevel, cross-thematic and cross- macro-regional ideas and experiences. The EUSDR Embedding Week addressed the potential and challenges of embedding, gathering around a virtual table speakers and participants representing national and regional programmes, managing and programming authorities, EUSDR NCs and PACs, the Ukrainian EUSDR Presidency, the European Commission, TESIM, and others.


>>> Download here <<<

Annex I to the EUSDR Implementation Report 2020-2021 summarises the outcomes of the programming phase of Embedding the EUSDR into EU Funds and Funding Programmes 2021-2027. The Report gives an overview of relevant funding sources and available budget for EUSDR relevant objectives and shows examples and results of national/regional embedding efforts. Furthermore, the Report provides an overview of embedding activities at thematic level, including project examples from different funding sources.

>>> Download here <<<

In the EUSDR, the embedding process has been one of the top priorities of the Croatian (2020), Slovakian (2021) and Ukrainian (2022) EUSDR Presidencies and continues now with the Slovenian EUSDR Presidency. The new guidance paper, published by the Slovenian EUSDR Presidency in April 2023, highlights concrete steps from the programming to the implementation phase. Special focus is put on embedding in non-EU countries, cross-cooperation between MRS and cross-cooperation between the Priority Areas.

>>> Download here <<<

Please note:


Within the Danube Region Strategy, Embedding was approached by first defining strategic topics, while the discussion and selection of concrete projects is foreseen for the implementing phase. This approach differs from other macro-regional strategies in which Embedding was approached by first defining viable project ideas – as part of the programming phase – and then deriving strategic topics from those project ideas.

History of the Embedding process

Towards a more coordinated approach of MRS key implementers and programme authorities


The preparation process of post-2020 programming offers a unique opportunity to all European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) and others such as IPA and NDICI (former ENI) to address territorial challenges in macro-regional strategies (MRS) more strategically. Previous experiences show that a dialogue between authorities responsible for the programming process and key implementers of MRS is needed to make the best use of EU funding sources.

This view is also supported by the 2nd Commission Report on the Implementation of MRS, which emphasises the importance of a dialogue between the programme authorities and key implementers of macro-regional strategies. Practices in the 2014-2020 programming and implementation period have shown that a better coordination may require going beyond traditional administrative boundaries, and the will from different levels of government to co-operate and co-ordinate actions in order to achieve shared goals and strengthen complementarities and synergies between different instruments.


Embedding EUSDR into EU funding programmes


Following these insights, in November 2019 the Croatian EUSDR Presidency with support of the Danube Strategy Point formulated a Guidance Paper on embedding the Danube Strategy into EU programmes. With the support of EUSDR National Coordinators, the Danube Strategy Point and the Interact programme the Croatian EUSDR Presidency established a Task Force to draft a comprehensive tool, which aims at coordinating the implementation of the EUSDR Action Plan with the EU’s priorities as well as the priorities of the involved pre-accession and neighbouring countries for the next financing period 2021 – 2027. In this regard, IPA funds are relevant for EU pre-accession countries (Bosnia & Herzegovina, Montenegro and Serbia) and NDICI funds are relevant for EU neighbouring countries (Moldova and Ukraine).

In the course of the first two meetings of the EUSDR Task Force Embedding in January and February 2020, it became clear that the revised EUSDR Action Plan (with all its 85 actions) would be hard to utilize in the embedding process. Therefore, in April 2020 Priority Area Coordinators and their Steering Groups were asked to compile a shortlist of up to three strategic topics per PA, based on the EUSDR Action Plan, to be included in the relevant national/regional operational programmes. In doing so, emphasis was placed on the following criteria, resulting in the above-described embedding tool:

Until end of July 2020, National Coordinators (NCs) and core decision makers of the Strategy are screening the suggested strategic topics for their feasibility and suitability with regards to embedding on the national level in consultation with the respective Programming/Managing Authorities.

The EUSDR embedding tool, including the shortlist, is a rolling document, which is regularly updated throughout all phases of the embedding process. The tool will be finalised and adapted once the negotiations among EC, EP and Council have ended and the EU Cohesion Policy regulation has been released. For the time being), the tool is available at the Danube Strategy Point upon request. With the definition of strategic topics for embedding, followed by the endorsement of EUSDR member states, the preparation process for embedding ends. Following this phase and as part of the implementing phase, EUSDR stakeholders will soon move on to discuss potential projects addressing the selected strategic topics.


Embedding high on the agenda of all macro-regional strategies


In the second meeting of Chairpersons of the National Coordinators groups (Trio Presidencies) of EU macro-regional strategies and the European Commission on 17th May 2020, representatives of all four MRS updated each other on the proceedings of the embedding process in their respective strategy. Overall, National Coordinators of all four MRS expressed the necessity for an active dialogue with programming authorities to ensure the recognition of MRS priorities / actions in the operational programmes. DG REGIO closely follows the embedding process in all MRS and is committed to the process of ensuring the inclusion of MRS priorities in operational programmes.

Previous Embedding efforts for the programming period 2014 – 2020

Already at the EUSDR National Coordinators meeting in Brussels in December 2015 the National Coordinators (NCs) were invited to provide practical examples of how they aim at ensuring financing of EUSDR relevant projects in their respective countries. The following main findings were drawn from the information provided to DG REGIO:


  • At the strategic document level, the EUSDR objectives were generally well embedded in the Partnership Agreements and Operational Programmes texts in the member states. Therefore, this level is not further considered in the following country-specific examples.
  • At the operational level, a few countries already applied specific selection criteria in some of their programmes (i.e. giving bonus points, earmarked budget, etc.).
  • Regarding internal coordination, many countries already used different approaches which in general seemed suitable for involving the programmes into the process.
  • NCs in principle had a good overview of both national and international funding sources at the time.
  • Several NCs were taking part in the Monitoring Committee meetings of ESI Funds as member or as observer in order to help facilitate funding of relevant projects.
  • The involvement of Steering Group members of the specific Priority Areas at national level in the work of ESIF programmes (i.e. in the work of the Monitoring Committees etc.) via NCs or directly brought tangible results in the implementation, while increasing ownership. Steering Group members were prompted to be active in identifying the funding sources and in describing the added value of the projects to the Managing Authorities (MA) in their respective countries (there were many cases in which there were no links, even if the SG member worked in the same institution where the MA was located).
  • Already in 2016 NCs saw the need of Managing Authorities to be involved in the identification of priority projects order to minimise the risk of developing projects not suitable for the identified programmes.
  • There was a misunderstanding by some programmes claiming that EUSDR relevance is connected to the proximity of the river. However, the Danube Region is not only the region close by the river. It is the whole region covered by the Interreg Danube Transnational Programme.


DG REGIO expressed its readiness to facilitate further practical arrangements in the countries (e.g. taking part at coordination meetings, in liaising with geographic desks, bringing EC- Delegations on board, etc.). Countries were encouraged to have bilateral consultations with each other in order to get further inspirations or practical hints.


Below reports on the state-of-play of aligning the EUSDR with ESI Funds were provided by the National Coordinators and they reflect the status quo as of January 2016.