Operational Programme 'Flanders'

Programme co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) under the 'Regional competitiveness and employment' objective


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On 7 December 2007, the European Commission approved an Operational Programme for the Flemish Region of Belgium for the period 2007-2013. This Operational Programme comes under the ‘Regional competitiveness and employment’ objective and has a total budget of around €498 million. The aid provided by the European Union from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) amounts to some €201 million, which represents about 8.9% of the EU's total investment in Belgium under the cohesion policy 2007-2013.

1. Purpose and aim of the programme

The Operational Programme for Flanders for the period 2007-2013 focuses on three strategic objectives:

  • to promote knowledge transfer among companies, non-profit organisations and public administrations;
  • to encourage entrepreneurship and innovation in order to boost job creation and strengthen economic structures so as to maximise economic growth;
  • to optimise support for development projects to make towns and cities more attractive in terms of entrepreneurship and innovation.

In particular, this means strengthening the economy by making towns and cities more accessible, upgrading their internal transport systems, improving their inhabitants’ quality of life and developing tourism and socio-cultural facilities.

2. Expected impact of the investments

According to initial estimates, the programme should lead to the creation of 15 000 jobs in the Region.

3. Priorities

The operational programme has four priorities:

Priority 1: The knowledge economy and innovation [approx. 24% of total investment]

Flanders has a very high level of knowledge and expertise at its disposal. Knowledge transfer and exploitation constitute two important factors in the optimum development of the Flemish knowledge economy.

A well-considered mix of initiatives should make it possible to increase the appreciation of knowledge as a tool with significant potential for businesses, non-profit bodies and public administrations. Greater awareness should result in a range of innovative products, procedures and services, an increase in economic and community added value, and more substantial international exploitation of Flemish knowledge and know-how.

This priority will be based on several driving forces: creativity, with an integrated horizontal approach, involvement of both the business and non-profit sectors, and concentration on systems innovation.

The six operational aims are as follows:

  • awareness-raising;
  • providing support;
  • cooperation;
  • internationalisation;
  • highlighting of examples illustrating new ways of exploiting knowledge;
  • innovation in the rural economy.

Priority 2: Entrepreneurship [approx. 24% of the total investment]

At the moment, the presence of foreign companies in the Flemish market constitutes an alternative to the Flemish deficit in terms of entrepreneurship. However, against the background of globalisation, it is becoming increasingly difficult to attract these foreign companies. In the long term, therefore, it will be necessary to do more to encourage Flemish entrepreneurship in order to compensate for this loss.

The three operational aims, based on themes relating to the business cycle and supporting the principle of responsible entrepreneurship, are as follows:

  • to stimulate entrepreneurship;
  • to develop an environment to facilitate the creation, growth and takeover of companies;
  • to stimulate entrepreneurship on an international scale.

Priority 3: Improving the basis for economic structuring and spatial planning [approx. 24% of total investment]

In order to make the towns, cities and regions of Flanders more attractive, it is essential to improve their accessibility, provide for the development of quality enterprise zones and exploit in a sustainable manner the added value created in Flanders on the basis of an already well-developed infrastructure network. To this end, four operational aims have been formulated:

  • to improve accessibility and optimise the logistics system in Flanders;
  • to encourage projects which have the effect of making towns, cities and regions more attractive and/or can enhance the factors underpinning the existing economic fabric;
  • to invest in quality enterprise zones and facilities for the establishment of businesses;
  • to utilise the ‘sustainability’ potential in order to improve the eco-efficiency of economic concentrations.

Priority 4: Urban development [approx. 24% of total investment]

Urban development projects (housing, workplaces, public areas, shops) are strategic projects in which economic aspects and the component dedicated to mobility play a major role. Such projects will encourage innovation and competitiveness and make it possible to make towns, cities and regions more attractive to businesses. They will also give rise to initiatives in other sectors. Two strategic aims have therefore been established:

  • to support integrated urban development projects which will contribute to the economic success of a town or city and its region;
  • to improve the urban vitality of the cities of Antwerp and Ghent, focusing on run-down areas by supporting small local projects.

Priority 5: Technical assistance [approx. 4% of total investment]

This priority will provide support for the introduction of an effective management, monitoring and control system to evaluate the programme and projects, and to handle communication and publicity for the programme.

Financial and Technical information

Operational Programme 'Flanders'

Intervention Type

Operational Programme

CCI no


Number of decision


Final approval date


Breakdown of finances by priority axis

Priority Axis EU Investment National Public Contribution Total Public Contribution
Knowledge economy and Innovation 48 227 098 48 227 098 96 454 196
Entrepreneurship 33 227 098 33 227 098 66 454 196
Improving the basis for economic structuring and spatial planning 63 227 098 70 461 162 133 688 260
Urban development 48 227 097 55 461 162 103 688 259
Technical assistance 8 037 850 8 037 850 16 075 700
Total 200 946 241 215 414 370 416 360 611