Operational Programme 'North West Europe (NWE)'

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


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On 26 September 2007, the European Commission approved a European Territorial Cooperation Programme for transnational cooperation between Belgium, Germany, Ireland, France, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom with the participation of Switzerland for the period 2007-2013.

The Transnational Territorial Cooperation Programme “North West Europe” (NWE) involves Community support for 93 NUTS II areas in the participating countries, within the European Territorial Cooperation Objective framework. The Programme affects a population of about 180 million people (2003) living in the eligible area of 845 000 km².

The total budget of the Programme is around €696 million. Community investment through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) amounts to around €355 million.

1. Aim and purpose of the programme

The main goal of the Operational Programme is to capitalise on the cooperation between key actors and to address territorial issues across the North West Europe area. The Programme seeks to contribute to the economic competitiveness of the region, thereby equally promoting regionally balanced and sustainable development.

The Programme is a unique in that it offers a cross-sectoral approach to territorial development, which promotes close cooperation with universities, non-governmental organisations, public authorities, and the private sector to secure contribution towards economic and social cohesion and EU competitiveness. The Transnational Cooperation Programme offers the advantage of establishing links between actions at regional, national, cross-border and interregional levels. These efforts increasingly complement activities, policies and programmes in the participating countries.

To guarantee the visibility of cooperation, concrete Operational Programme achievements are indispensable. Currently, the new approach of transnational cooperation will focus on:

  • a long-term, strategic approach
  • the catalyst effect of cooperation projects for subsequent infrastructure investments that offer transnational relevance
  • cross-fertilisation between projects that both address similar issues and complement other programmes
  • overcoming transnational issues of interest to the area.

2. Expected impact of investments

Transnational territorial cooperation has a long history in North West Europe. The Community Initiative INTERREG IIC (1997-1999) and INTERREG IIIB North West Europe Programme (2000–2006) are the predecessors of the present Programme. These Programmes mainly focused on ‘soft actions’ such as studies, experience exchanges, best practice exchanges, joint territorial strategies and seminars.

The Transnational Territorial Cooperation Programme for North West Europe (2007-2013) will support actions and investments with a clear benefit for the transnational cooperation area. Studies and research that are unable to provide the basis for concrete actions will no longer receive funding. Likewise, previously approved Programme projects will no longer have the ability simply to extend their activities into the context of new Programmes. Rather, innovative and tangible initiatives will drive funding.

Key actors that were never involved in INTERREG partnerships will gain new attention and focus. By engaging actors that have never participated in similar programmes will serve to expand cooperation networks established under earlier Cooperation Programmes. The transnational cooperation projects can make an important contribution toward increasing the awareness for territorial issues of transnational concern. Funding will thus serve as a catalyst for future infrastructure investments of transnational relevance, which may have not otherwise received sufficient attention.

A series of indicators will monitor and quantify programme performance – at project and programme level – and the level of accomplishment of its objectives and priorities.

3. Priorities

Specific objectives of the Transnational Cooperation Operational Programme "North West Europe 2007-2013" include:

  • innovation
  • environment
  • accessibility
  • sustainable urban development.

Priority 1: Developing the NWE knowledge-based economy by capitalising on our capacity for innovation [approximately 25.7% of total funding]

Key objectives under this priority are:

  • to promote entrepreneurship and facilitate the transfer of innovations and knowledge into products, processes and services that strengthen the competitiveness of the programme area
  • to strengthen and to develop new and existing growth clusters as well as small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) networks
  • to use and to improve territorial cooperation that strengthens the institutional and territorial framework for innovation as well as to facilitate the transfer of knowledge within the programme area.

Priority 2: Sustainable management of natural resources and of natural and technological risks [approximately 25.0% of total funding]

Key objectives under the priority are:

  • to promote an innovative and sustainable approach to natural resource management, including water, landscapes, biodiversity, energy and waste management
  • to promote an innovative approach to risk management and risk prevention in the context of climate change. This applies in particular to water management (effects of the high concentration of human activities in coastal areas and river valleys, impacts of sea level rise on coastal areas and flood risk, the marine environment etc.)
  • to promote a transnational and spatial approach that both improves soil, water and air quality by minimising greenhouse gas emissions and reduces noise pollution.

Priority 3: Improving connectivity in NWE by promoting intelligent and sustainable transport and ICT solutions [approximately 25.7% of total funding]

Specific objectives of this priority are:

  • to manage transport growth through optimisation of existing transport infrastructure capacity for both passenger and freight transport
  • to support effective and innovative actions and efficient systems on land, water and in the air
  • to develop innovative approaches for information and communication technology (ICT) use that improves connectivity. These approaches will include those aimed at reducing the need for physical mobility through virtual activity for both passenger and freight transport.

Priority 4: Promoting strong and prosperous communities at transnational level [approximately 19.7% of total funding]

Specific objectives of this priority are:

  • to promote transnational actions that enhance the economic and social performance of cities, towns and rural areas
  • to identify and develop collective actions that improve the environmental quality and attraction of towns and cities (including the sustainable use of the cultural heritage sites, tourism and innovative energy practices)
  • to promote transnational responses to the impacts of demographic change and migration in the programme area.

Priority 5: Technical assistance [approximately 4.1% of total funding]

The Programme will employ technical assistance during implementation. Technical assistance will include administration, monitoring, evaluation and control.

Financial and Technical information

Operational Programme 'North West Europe (NWE)'

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
Developing the NWE knowledge-based economy by capitalising on our capacity for innovation 89 348 419 89 348 419 178 696 838
Sustainable management of natural resources and of natural and 86 930 420 86 930 420 173 860 840
Improving connectivity in NWE by promoting intelligent and sustainable transport and ICT solutions 89 357 665 89 357 665 178 715 330
Promoting strong and prosperous communities at transnational level 68 480 191 68 480 191 136 960 382
Technical assistance 21 326 598 7 108 866 28 435 464
Total 355 443 293 341 225 561 696 668 854