Operational Programme 'Nord-Pas-de-Calais'

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


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On 30 November 2007, the European Commission approved an Operational Programme for the Nord-Pas-de-Calais region of France for the period 2007-2013.

This Operational Programme comes under the Regional Competitiveness and Employment objective and has a total budget of around 2.3 billion euros. The funding provided by the European Union under the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) amounts to some 701 million euros, representing around 4.9% of Community aid to France as part of the cohesion policy for 2007-2013.

The total level of cofinancing for the Lisbon Strategy's economic competitiveness and employment objectives amounts to 66% of the ERDF allocation.

1. Purpose and aim of the programme

The Nord-Pas-de-Calais is a region upon which the past has left a strong mark. It faces persistent problems and is just emerging from a lengthy phase of restructuring (characterised by high unemployment, a minimal share of regional GDP spent on research and development, galloping urbanisation, major natural and technological hazards etc.). However, the region has real potential for development and an appeal which needs to be supported in order to enhance its competitiveness.

In the face of the brutal crises that hit its main sectors of activity, the proactive policies pursued in the 1970s and 80s primarily sought to avert a greater collapse and to remedy the most glaring economic and social problems in the short term.

More recent efforts have given priority to establishing the preconditions for new development:

  • large-scale treatment of industrial wastelands;
  • fostering training potential, specifically with regard to higher education and government research structures;
  • cultural regeneration;
  • creation of a new image;
  • forging new regional solidarity.

Despite the very substantial results already achieved, it has not been possible to tackle all the deep-rooted causes of the problems.

Since resources are scarce, the regional development strategy needs to be structured around two main priorities. Boosting competitiveness and speeding up the renewal of economic activities as the driving force behind regional development and job creation are the objectives to be given priority. In the face of globalisation and ever increasing competition, the focus needs to be placed on enhancing economic, human and organisational resources and creating an environment conducive to growth and regional competitiveness.

The next step is to liberate the means to complete the restructuring of the region, dealing with all its consequences, and ensuring the development is sustainable as concerns the environment and social cohesion.

The strategy of the operational programme is based in particular on:

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

2. Expected impact of the investments

Under the first objective, entitled “research and development, innovation, enterprise policy”, Community funding should help to increase:

  • internal spending on research and development as a proportion of regional GDP (the share of GDP invested in research and development is to increase from the current 0.7% to 1.8%);
  • the number of patents filed with the European Patent Office (the objective is for the region to catch up with the national average).

Under the “environment, sustainable practices and risk prevention” objective, Community funding should help to set up:

  • 35 operations to restore wetlands and 25 to restore watercourses, the objective being not only to continue restoration of watercourses, but also to focus greater effort on projects to restore wetlands in decline;
  • 250 public transport vehicles equipped with clean sources of energy.

Under the “accessibility” priority, Community funding could have an impact on:

  • 40 kilometres of new, segregated public transport routes by 2013;
  • 24 areas of activity equipped with ultra-high-speed broadband in the IT sector.

With regard to the territorial component, in terms of building up multimodality, there are 15 projects planned with the aim of reducing journey times between rural areas or areas undergoing urban renewal, and centres of employment and training, along with the most dynamic centres of development in the conurbation. In order to contribute to the redeployment of quality land, the operational programme also provides for action on former industrial sites and disused mines. The target value is 100 hectares.

3. Priorities

The programme is centred on five priorities:

Priority 1: Research and development, innovation, enterprise policy [approx. 47% of total investment]

The diagnostic has stressed the extremely poor level of investment in research and innovation in the region. With 0.7% of its GDP devoted to these activities, the Nord-Pas-de-Calais falls far below the national average of 2.2%.

As a result, this priority aims to strengthen and open up centres of excellence in research by focusing efforts on four emerging sectors (biology, health, transport, sustainable development, sciences and information and communication technologies) and by improving their access to other Community funding, such as the 7th Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development (FPRTD).

This priority is also designed to:

  • attract new activities with a high value added to the region;
  • consolidate the development of fast-growing and innovative businesses in the region;
  • foster entrepreneurial spirit and business ventures.

Given the weak synergy between research structures and businesses in the region, this priority will aim to:

  • develop initiatives to bring together the operators concerned;
  • finance research activities linking laboratories and businesses;
  • develop collective structures for technological transfers.

Priority 2: The environment, sustainable practices and risk prevention [approx. 18% of total investment]

The diagnostic has revealed that there is considerable pressure on the environment in the region and its main territories. This priority will aim to preserve and extend natural environments and encourage biodiversity and environmental excellence.

It will enable improvements to be made in energy performance and lessen the nuisance of urban public transport networks by turning to new sources of energy. It will also contribute to protecting the general public and economic activity from natural and technological hazards.

Priority 3: Accessibility [approx. 22% of total investment]

Given that high-speed rail links, goods transport and air routes already exist, they need to be used optimally as part of a multimodal policy reflecting the sustainable strategy for the entire programme. This priority will contribute to developing intermodality for inter-urban transport, specifically within the areas of metropolitan cooperation. It will provide funding for equipment and services to encourage a modal shift to alternatives to road transport and inter-modality in goods transport.

As for infrastructure, the region's level of high-speed services in its telecommunications network is above the national average. However, the issue of serving isolated areas remains. The priority will provide support as a complement to local services where these are lacking and, above all, where specific economic needs are identified that cannot suitably be met by the market.

Priority 4: Territorial aspect [approx. 12.5% of total investment]

The territories in the region do not all have the same characteristics. Some are affected by an accumulation of handicaps. Significant variations also appear within the same urban area.

This priority will focus specifically on a strategy to develop, improve and adapt the supply of local services, particularly in deprived urban areas and rural areas. It will also help to improve services in the least-favoured areas in terms of accessibility, whether these be socially disadvantaged urban areas or rural areas.

The presence of major industrial and urban wastelands remains a significant characteristic of the region. At the same time, urban sprawl continues to encroach upon agricultural land and generate increased costs and nuisances. This priority will thus pursue a policy of dealing with derelict sites by giving them priority where there are opportunities to restructure these sites for business or urban purposes.

The Nord-Pas-de-Calais region remains insufficiently attractive in terms of resources and influence, which constitutes a real obstacle to its development. The operational programme will provide support for a number of key projects, selected by a call for projects with a view to restructuring urbanised sites. These projects will need to be exemplary in terms of their contribution to strengthening the attractiveness of the region and their contribution to the regional strategy to promote competitiveness and employment.

Priority 5: Technical assistance [approx. 0.5% of total investment]

The technical assistance initiatives will provide support for:

  • management, monitoring and evaluation of the operational programme and the projects;
  • coordination, communication and advertising campaigns for the operational programme and initiatives carried out within the programme.

Financial and Technical information

Operational Programme 'Nord-Pas-de-Calais'

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
Research, development, innovation, enterprise policy 266 700 000 835 500 000 1 102 200 000
Environment, sustainable practices and risk prevention 148 000 000 272 000 000 420 000 000
Accessibility 159 000 000 348 000 000 507 000 000
Territorial aspect 117 054 854 175 945 146 293 000 000
Technical assistance 10 198 716 3 801 284 14 000 000
Total 700 953 570 1 635 246 430 2 336 200 000