Operational Programme 'Two Seas'

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


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On 19 September 2008 the European Commission approved a Cross-border Co-operation Operational Programme between Belgium, France, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom for the period 2007-13. This programme involves Community support for the following regions: Nord and Pas de Calais (France); Norfolk, Suffolk, Southend-on-Sea, Thurrock, Essex CC, Brighton and Hove, East Sussex CC, West Sussex, Portsmouth, Southampton, Hampshire CC, Isle of Wight, the Medway Towns, Kent CC, Bournemouth and Poole, Dorset CC, Cornwall and Isles of Scilly, Plymouth, Torbay, Devon CC (United Kingdom); the districts of Antwerpen, Brugge, Oostende, Veurne, Eeklo, Gent, Sint-Niklaas (Belgium); Delft en Westland, Groot-Rijnmond, Zeeuws-Vlaanderen, Overig Zeeland and West-Noord-Brabant (Netherlands).

The regions of Somme and Aisne (France), Somerset, Wiltshire CC, Surrey and Cambridgeshire CC (United Kingdom), Diksmuide, Ieper, Kortrijk, Roeselare and Tielt (Province of West-Vlaanderen), Aalst, Dendermonde, Oudenaarde (Province of Oost-Vlaanderen), Mechelen, and Turnhout (Province of Antwerpen) in Belgium, and Zuid-Oost Zuid-Holland (Province of Zuid-Holland) in the Netherlands, which are eligible to participate in the projects as adjacent areas, receive a maximum of 20% of the ERDF funding allocated to the programme.

The total budget of the Programme is about €295 million, with Community assistance through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) amounting to some €167 million. This represents approximately 1.9% of the total EU investment earmarked for the European Territorial Co-operation Objective under the Cohesion Policy 2007-13.

1. Aim and purpose of the programme

The programme's overall aim is to develop the competitiveness and the sustainable growth potential of maritime and non-maritime issues relating to the programme through the establishment and development of partnerships for cross-border co-operation.

The programme strategy will address the development of a competitive area in terms of: sustainable economic activities, innovation and human capital, and accessibilities; promotion and development of a sustainable environment; improvement of the quality of life, taking into account the area's diversity and enhancing its maritime potential as a unifying element; and development of best practices in cross-border co-operation and the promotion of new partnerships.

Given the new enlarged co-operation area and the fact that southern England is eligible for both programmes, a common set of priorities with the France (Channel)-England programme was also established in order to support projects of common interest, fostering the capitalisation of best practice and specific strategic projects, particularly those with a maritime dimension, for the area as a whole.

2. Expected impact of investments

It is expected that the ‘Two Seas’ cross-border co-operation programme will amongst other things contribute to:

  • supporting joint (maritime) economic activities as well as activities related to management of coastal zones and maritime resources;
  • promoting entrepreneurship, innovation and research;
  • supporting tourism;
  • improving the accessibility of the programming area;
  • protecting the environment, boosting energy efficiency and developing renewable energies;
  • improving good practices in water, waste and resource management;
  • promoting social inclusion, improving the quality of services and supporting co-operation in education and training.

3. Priorities

The Operational Programme is structured along the following priorities:

Priority 1: Creating an economically competitive, attractive and accessible area [approximately 36.4% of total funding]

This priority seeks to enhance the economic development and competitiveness of the programming area, which includes support for:

  • co-operation in the field of the maritime economy;
  • innovation and research infrastructures;
  • entrepreneurship and business development initiatives;
  • tourism;
  • the programming area’s accessibility.

Priority 2: Promoting and enhancing a safe and healthy environment [approximately 25.1% of total funding]

This priority aims to improve the environment in the programming area, in particular the Channel and the North Sea, for example in terms of combating pollution, waste management, waste water treatment and environmental risk prevention.

Priority 3: Improving quality of life [approximately 25.3% of total funding]

This priority seeks to create a better living environment and quality of life for the inhabitants of the programming area by addressing health, security, cultural exchange and equal opportunities.

Priority 4: Common priority with the France (Channel) - England programme [approximately 7.8% of total funding]

This priority is common to the ‘Two Seas’ Operational Programme and the ‘France (Channel) - England’ Operational Programme. With the participation of stakeholders from both programming areas, the priority supports, among other things, co-operation projects that have a cross-border maritime dimension and making the best of good practices.

Priority 5: Technical Assistance [approximately 5.4% of total funding]

There are provisions for technical assistance for implementing the Operational Programme. Financial support is available and covers administration, monitoring, evaluation and control, and information and communication.

Financial and Technical information

Operational Programme 'Two Seas'

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
Supporting an economically competitive, attractive and accessible area 58 991 540 48 265 806 107 257 346
Promoting and enhancing a safe and healthy environment 40 798 529 33 380 615 74 179 144
Improving quality of life 44 807 419 29 871 613 74 679 032
Common priority with the France (Channel) - England programme 12 630 429 10 333 988 22 964 417
Technical Assistance 9 772 266 6 216 045 15 988 311
Total 167 000 183 128 068 067 295 068 250