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Norte (Portugal)


What are the region’s priorities?

The Norte region of northern Portugal has 3.7 million residents. As of 2009, its GDP per capita was 65% of the EU average (EU 27), an increase of 3% from 2006. Its relative weight in the Portuguese economy increased from 27.7% of GDP in 2006 to 28.4% in 2009. The region thus helped to delay the economic recession and reduced its intensity in 2008 and 2009.

The region's main priority is to develop tourism in order to attract foreign investment and bring additional sources of revenue to rural areas. The region also seeks to develop its regional innovation system, particularly in companies, and to expand the role of cities as catalysts for economic and social development in the region.

How has EU regional policy contributed?

The regional program, supported by the European Union from 2007 to 2013, represents a € 2.7 billion investment by the European Development Fund (ERDF). The programme is organized around five main priorities:

  • Competitiveness, innovation and knowledge: the goal is to increase the presence of innovative enterprises in the regional economy.
  • Capitalising on local resources: the potential of the region’s assets – tourism, fishing, and shipbuilding, along with culture and creativity – should be maximised.
  • Renewing and developing the environment and land: this priority involves protection from natural and technological risks, urban waste treatment, improvement of the water supply and treatment of wastewater, education, sport and health care.
  • Development of urban systems: these investments target advances in urban mobility (micro-logistics, support for public transport).
  • Government and institutional qualifications: one example is increasing the use of new technologies in public administration services.


To date, project sponsors have received roughly 20% of disbursements. The region is also engaged in cross-border projects with neighbouring Galicia (Spain-Portugal programme).

Sample Projects

  • The International Iberian Nanotechnology Laboratory (INL) was inaugurated in 2009 in Braga and is the first European international research centre dedicated to nanoscience and nanotechnology. It was founded by Spain and Portugal, and will receive € 31 million in ERDF funding for the 2007-13 period.
  • Porto metro: In 2000-2006, regional policy has contributed to the construction of 57 km of underground lines, 37 new surface stations and 11 underground stations, and to the renovation of 10 stations (€ 316 million from the ERDF and Cohesion Fund). Next step: extension of the Dragão-Fânzeres line (€ 79.8 million from ERDF in the 2007-13 period).
  • European Institute of Excellence for Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine of Guimarães: 125 researchers from 20 countries are exploring new technologies and therapies to treat patients (€ 3.19 million from the ERDF). The project is a RegioStars 2011 finalist.


Further Information

Operational Programme 'Norte'
ON.2 – O Novo Norte
Portugal North Region