Operational Programme 'Rhône'

Programme co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) under the Regional Competitiveness and Employment objective

France

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On 20 December 2007 the European Commission approved a multiregional Operational Programme for Rhône in France for 2007-2013 (Modified decision C(2010)2344 - 21/04/2010)

This Operational Programme comes under the Regional Competitiveness and Employment objective and has a total budget of about 105 million euros. The financing provided by the European Union under the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) amounts to some 34 million euros, representing about 0.2% of Community aid to France as part of the cohesion policy for 2007-2013.

The total level of co-financing for the Competitiveness and Employment objectives of the Lisbon Strategy amounts to 64.1% of the ERDF allocation.

1. Purpose and aim of the programme

The strategy of the multiregional Operational Programme is based primarily on:

  • regional issues highlighted by identifying and analysing regional potential;
  • the Community and national strategic framework establishing the principles for the allocation of Community funds.

From its source in the Swiss Alps the river Rhône flows into Lake Geneva and then into France where it passes through Lyon, Vienne, Valence, Avignon and then Arles. The river has a length of 812 km, including 522 km in France, and flows into the Mediterranean, for which it provides a quarter of the sea's riverwater input. The water basin of the river covers 90 000 km² in France, spread over five regions and 21 départements. Often, the river forms the administrative boundary between regions and départements.

Natural risks, especially flooding, are basic features of this area. The extent of the water basin means that the hydrometeorological circumstances which cause the Rhône and its tributaries to flood, and thus pose a significant risk, are complex and varied. The human settlement which has spread throughout the areas subject to flooding with resulting efforts to control the river is a major factor involving complex problems when it comes to managing the risk of floods.

The economic vitality of the Rhône valley, which has been a source of steady population growth and sometimes uncontrolled urban spread, has benefited the towns along the river and also agriculture. This economic development followed regulation work along the river and coincided with times when there was no major flooding. This has meant that certain areas, although better protected than in the past, were still subject to flooding when the river ran high.

Flooding is a major common denominator of the plan for the Rhône and the diagnostic study which has been carried out confirms that the problem affects the whole basin and requires an interregional approach to flood prevention, based on a joint effort both upriver and downriver and on both sides of the river. In addition, taking action on flooding is an element which strengthens the sustainable development of the area in question and which boosts its competitiveness. The idea is to support regional development by taking a positive approach to providing better management of the natural risks which are a feature of the region and to considering such risks in connection with land use. This strategy is devised on the basis of interregional partnership which goes beyond administrative boundaries so that the various authorities involved in the regions in question can work together to define the methods of risk reduction. The diagnostic study also confirms an interest in and need for collaborative action and, at the multiregional level, for restoration of the river's functions by reconciling its various uses within the framework of sustainable development (prioritise restoration of biodiversity and the river's migratory path, which goes hand-in-hand with production of renewable energy), and on the development of river transport by using new technologies and increased capacities for shifting traffic to the river.

2. Expected impact of the investment

In particular, the Community funding should make it possible to:

  • survey and map 33 000 hectares of floodplains by 2013;
  • carry out 1 000 diagnostic investigations to identify the extent and causes of vulnerability to flooding: 30% of the population in areas subject to flooding should have taken or should be considering taking measures to protect against flooding;
  • adopt four overall management plans covering all the areas concerned by 2013.
  • Prevent 50,509 tonnes of CO2 emissions within the framework of aim 2 on ecological restoration of the river and renewable energy, and 7,900 tonnes of CO2 emissions for aim 3 on the development of river transport.
  • Make 94 km of river accessible again to fish
  • Conduct 4 research programmes for aim 2 on ecological restoration of the river and renewable energy, and 4 research programmes for aim 3 on the development of river transport.
  • Set up an information system for 100% of the Rhône's waterways.

 

 

3. Priorities

The Operational Programme is centred on four priorities:

Priority 1: Boost the economic vitality of the Rhône valley by preventing flooding [about 39.5% of total investment]

The aim of this priority is to prevent flooding by dealing with the phenomenon itself by proposing changes to economic activities in the area subject to flooding and raising awareness and fostering understanding of the risks in order to preserve the economic vitality of the Rhône valley. Within the framework of this programme, priority 1 is based on three operational objectives:

  • Boost the competitiveness of the Rhône regions by reducing flooding
  • Reduce the vulnerability of populations and activities located in the area subject to flooding
  • Learn to cope better with the risk: involve inhabitants and develop innovative tools.

Priority 2: Restore the river's functions by reconciling its various uses within the framework of sustainable development [about 26.5% of total investment]

This involves supporting activities to reconcile all of the following: ecological restoration issues for the river Rhône, maintenance of renewable energy production capacity and restoration of the river's migratory path. This area of action in the present programme is based on three operational objectives:

  • Allow growth in flow reserved for bypassed sections without loss of renewable energy production by setting up small hydroelectric plants;
  • Restore the migratory path of the Rhône;
  • Conduct awareness/development/research actions.

Priority 3: Coping better with risk by involving inhabitants and developing innovative tools [about 38% of total investment]

The objective is to enable river transport to play a larger role in the sustainable transport policy for the Rhône and Saône rivers, which form a major European trade route. River transport's energy performance, its certainty and capacity to 'gently' serve the main economic clusters and population centres make it a particularly environmentally friendly mode of transport. In this way, the waterway will contribute to reducing roadway traffic and become a strategic aim of urban transport policies. This area of action in the present programme is based on three operational objectives:

  • Ensure that conditions for ambitious development of river transport are in place
  • Prioritise shifting traffic to the waterway;
  • Innovative development and research actions.

Priority 4: Technical assistance [about 1.5% of total investment]

The aim of this priority is to ensure effective management of the Community funding for the implementation and monitoring of the programme and its projects by providing:

  • support for the management, monitoring and control system and for the assessment of the Operational Programme and its projects;
  • support for the organisation, communication and publicity in connection with the programme and its projects.

Financial and Technical information

Operational Programme 'Rhône'

Intervention Type

Operational Programme

CCI no

2007FR162PO026

Number of decision

C/2007/6823 + C(2010)2344

Final approval date

20/12/2007

Breakdown of finances by priority axis

Priority Axis EU Investment National Public Contribution Total Public Contribution
Preserve the economic vitality the Rhône valley by preventing flooding 13 300 000 10 175 236 23 475 236
Restore the river's functions by reconciling its various uses within the framework of sustainable development 9 000 000 7 720 000 16 720 000
Develop river transport with new technologies and increased capacities to shift traffic to the river 10 500 000 26 500 000 37 000 000
Technical assistance 1 009 546 1 009 546 2 019 092
Total 33 809 546 45 404 782 79 214 328