Interreg VI news





Starke Dörfer

The effects of demographic change are becoming increasingly apparent in rural areas. Village facilities are declining and so is the quality of life. At the same time, the identity, vitality and attractiveness of the villages are suffering. Both sides of the German-Dutch border are aware of this problem. Within the framework of the KRAKE project, the project partners involved have taken up this problem together with 55 pilot villages from the Euregio Rhine-Waal and the EUREGIO with the aim of maintaining or improving the quality of life and social sustainability of the small villages. The focus was on the needs of the villages. The project focused on the sustainable strengthening of the self-management of Dutch and German villages in the six thematic areas: Care, housing, healthy lifestyle, child-friendly villages, SMEs and volunteers as well as the DNA of the village. A community with several pilot villages was created for each topic. Concepts were developed and implemented within these communities in close cooperation between the citizens/villages, SMEs and participating universities.

A bilingual self-management handbook on each specific topic contributed to the transferability and applicability of the project results for other Dutch and German villages – and subsequently for districts and neighbourhoods. Thus, the project results are also interesting for cities and other rural areas with similar problems. Differences between the Dutch and German social systems, legislation and culture lead to different solutions. The cross-border exchange of experience and knowledge means learning from and with each other and further reducing the barrier effect of the border. The project management was responsible for the administrative and organisational handling, the dissemination of the project results as well as the synergy with other regional, supra-regional and Interreg/EFRE projects.

KRAKE – About the project
Many small villages, settlements and communities know the challenges: The aging society is shrinking, young people are moving to the city, shops are closing, cultural offerings are diminishing – the village is losing its vitality. How can this trend be stopped? And what role can the citizens themselves play in this? This is what the German-Dutch INTERREG V A project KRAKE (Krachtige Kernen/Starke Dörfer) was about. From 2016 to 2019, experts from Münster University of Applied Sciences, Arnhem and Nijmegen University of Applied Sciences, Rhine-Waal University of Applied Sciences, Münster Chamber of Crafts, Borken District Crafts Association and TAFH Münster GmbH implemented a wide range of scientifically proven solutions directly on site. 55 German and Dutch villages participated in the seven communities Care, DNA, Family, Healthy Lifestyle, IT&Media, Service and Wohn/Woon.

The Communities
Care Community
The supply of villages with care services and nursing staff is endangered in the long run. The family as “Care Center of last resort” also threatens to break away. The care community has taken up this social challenge together with the citizens* in the villages in order to develop and implement local solutions: How do we organize ourselves, for example in a care cooperative? How can we successfully implement self-organisation?

DNA Community
Municipal structures in rural areas are undergoing change: They influence the identity of villages. Local people often held together and benefited from each other. But how has this identity developed and how can it be used in favour of rural structures? Which DNA does a village possess today and which factors have a decisive influence on coexistence there?

Family Community
Fewer and fewer people live in the countryside. As a result, shops, schools and buses are disappearing. How can we work together to ensure that villages remain beautiful places to grow up? And how can we make sure that children can express their opinions? All Family Community villages were busy with activities that make their village more beautiful, great or safer for children.

Healthy Lifestyle Community
The aim of the Healthy Lifestyle Community was to inspire citizens for a healthy lifestyle and to create the necessary framework conditions. What distinguishes a healthy life and how can it be shaped? How can every citizen influence their own well-being and take responsibility for their own quality of life? What can the community do to create health-promoting structures?

IT&Media Community
The aim of the IT&Media Community was to support citizens in the use and further development of existing and new media. How can village development benefit from IT and media services? How can the administration of these services be taken over by the citizens of the village themselves? Which innovative services support citizens in strengthening village development?

Service Community
Increasingly, gaps are emerging in the supply structure of small villages in the border region. Companies and businesses are often no longer present. Within the service community, forms of cooperation between local companies and volunteers have been developed to implement activities and develop concepts for maintaining the supply structure and activity in the villages.

Woon/Wohn Community
The Woon/Wohn Community has concentrated on the question of how to design the living environment of small villages in order to optimise the quality of life for the residents. Based on demand surveys among residents of a total of eight Dutch and German pilot villages in the German-Dutch border area, the focus was on the residential environment. The assignment of these thematic priorities to the quality of houses, buildings, facilities and settlements led to the development of (draft) recommendations for the residential environment of the small villages. These recommendations offer a point of reference for the clever design and future security of the living environment.

The KRAKE project was co-financed by the INTERREG V A programme Germany – Netherlands with funds from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), the province of Gelderland and the Ministry of Economic Affairs, Innovation, Digitisation and Energy of North Rhine-Westphalia.

To project (external link)


Planned project costs

3.981.426,36 €

Project Duration

1.1.2016 - 30.6.2019


Socio-cultural and territorial cohesion in the programme area

Lead Partner

HAN University of Applied Science in Arnhem en Nijmegen

Project partners

Handwerkskammer Münster, Hochschule Rhein-Waal, Transferagentur FH Münster GmbH, Kreishandwerkerschaft Borken, Dorpengroep NL, Dorpengroep D, Fachhochschule Münster,


Financer Amount
Provincie Noord-Brabant 0,00 €
Dorpengroep D 41.400,00 €
Dorpengroep NL 41.400,00 €
Hochschule Rhein-Waal 183.189,58 €
Handwerkskammer Münster 25.774,62 €
Provincie Gelderland 471.212,75 €
EFRE / EFRO 1.884.850,99 €
HAN University of Applied Science in Arnhem en Nijmegen 699.541,56 €
Kreishandwerkerschaft Borken 18.705,21 €
Fachhochschule Münster 105.346,19 €
MWIDE NRW 471.212,75 €
Transferagentur FH Münster GmbH 38.792,71 €