Operational Programme 'North Sea Region'

Transnational Cooperation Programme under the European Territorial Cooperation Objective, co-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF)


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On 3 October 2007, the European Commission approved a transnational cooperation Operational Programme between Belgium, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, the United Kingdom (with participation from Norway). The “North Sea Region” Programme falls within the framework laid out for the European Territorial Cooperation Objective and has a total budget of around €274 million.

Community assistance through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) amounts to some €134 million, which represents approximately % of the total EU investment earmarked for the European Territorial Cooperation Objective under the Cohesion Policy for 2007-13.

The North Sea Region Programme runs from 2007 to 2013 and will provide Community support to 38 NUTS II areas in the participating EU Member States (along with all of Norway). The Programme covers a population of about 60 million people and an area of 664 000 km.

1. Purpose and aim of the programme

The Programme’s main aim is to make the North Sea region a better place to live, work and invest in. It seeks to make a measurable difference by:

  • increasing the overall level of innovation taking place across the region;
  • enhancing the quality of the environment: and
  • developing sustainable and competitive communities.

North Sea Region 2007-13 promises to deliver a long-term strategic approach to transnational cooperation. It will provide a catalyst for cooperative projects that can support investments in infrastructure that are of transnational relevance. An additional aim is to encourage cross-fertilisation between projects that address similar issues, and that provide complementarity with other programmes – be they European, national or regional in make-up.

The Programme will also pool resources to provide critical mass while tackling transnational issues that are of genuine importance to the area.

2. Expected impact of the investment

North Sea Region 2007-13 will support actions and investments which offer clear added value to the area. The emphasis will be on stimulating transnational cooperation that can provide concrete benefits. Projects that were approved under previous programmes will not simply be able to extend their activities under the new programme.

The focus will be on supporting innovative and tangible transnational initiatives. Efforts will be made to engage with key actors that were not involved in partnerships forged under the previous INTERREG programmes. A series of indicators will be harnessed to monitor and quantify the programme’s performance and level of accomplishment.

3. Priority axis

The Programme is structured around the following priority axes:

Priority axis 1: Building on our capacity for innovation [approximately 20.9% of total funding]

This priority aims to boost innovation at all policy levels and in all sectors. The goal is to encourage a transnational partnership approach between business, industry, researchers, universities and public bodies which can be harnessed to promote innovation in line with the EU’s Lisbon and Gothenburg agendas.

By strengthening the capacities of clusters and networks across business and society, innovation-based projects will create favourable environments for small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs), business development and economic growth. Increased adoption and use of information and communication technologies (ICTs) will play a key role in increasing the region’s innovative capacity.

Priority axis 2: Promoting the sustainable management of our environment [approximately 28.5% of total funding]

Transnational cooperation will concentrate on the development of preventative and responsive measures that address acute and chronic marine pollution. Actions will also focus on integrated coastal zone management, and how best to look after the sea and its marine ecosystems.

The priority also addresses the risk climate change poses to society and the environment. Efforts will be undertaken to improve environmentally responsible energy production practices, which will contribute to a lower carbon economy.

Priority axis 3: Improving accessibility in the North Sea region [approximately 28.5% of total funding]

This priority aims to improve accessibility throughout the North Sea region in order to deliver economic and social benefits. Public and private partnerships will be encouraged to develop and implement transnational concepts for an efficient transport system. Work here should address common technological, financial, planning and administrative constraints.

Providing support for innovation in transport and cargo logistics will help to address the region’s accessibility issues. Projects that promote the development of multi-modal transport corridors and seek to improve transport monitoring systems are also likely to receive Programme support.

Priority axis 4: Promoting sustainable and competitive communities [approximately 17.1% of total funding]

This priority aims to strengthen urban and rural areas in a way that will create conditions to build up innovative capacities and generate jobs and growth. Transnational cooperation will concentrate on those geographic areas that are suffering from economic and population decline, and subsequent social pressures. Projects will have to tackle issues like service delivery, integration of immigrant labour and economic restructuring. Axis four also focuses on promoting efficient energy consumption.

Priority axis 5: Technical assistance [approximately 5.0% of total funding]
Technical assistance is available to help implement the programme. Financial support can cover administration, monitoring, evaluation and control.

Financial and Technical information

Operational Programme 'North Sea Region'

Intervention Type

Operational Programme

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Number of decision


Final approval date


Breakdown of finances by priority axis

Priority Axis EU Investment National Public Contribution Total Public Contribution
Building on our capacity for innovation 28 600 000 28 600 000 57 200 000
Promoting the sustainable management of our environment 39 100 000 39 100 000 78 200 000
Improving the accessibility in the North Sea region 39 100 000 39 100 000 78 200 000
Promoting sustainable and competitive communities 23 400 000 23 400 000 46 800 000
Technical assistance 8 300 000 5 500 000 13 800 000
Total 138 500 000 135 700 000 274 200 000