Operational Programme 'Azores'

Programme under the Convergence Objective, co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF)


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On 5 October 2007, the European Commission approved an operational programme for the Azores in Portugal covering the period 2007-2013. The operational programme falls under the Convergence Objective and accounts for a total budget of approximately €1.2 billion. The aid provided by the European Union (EU) under the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) amounts to some €966 million, which represents around 4.5% of Community contributions to Portugal in the framework of the cohesion policy 2007-2013.

1. Aim and purpose of the programme

The purpose of the operational programme is to ensure efficiency of economic production and create jobs. It will also contribute to cohesion and balance in the region, and to access for the population to higher levels of qualification, well-being and quality of life.

2. Expected impact of the investments

By the end of the programming period, the operational programme is expected to achieve a GDP per inhabitant of 70% of the EU-25 average. This will require an increase of around 9% in relation to the figures available in 2003.

This major challenge will involve significant growth in the regional economy, supported by the creation of around 1 800 to 2 000 jobs a year, and also actions to improve market efficiency, in particular through an increase in productivity.

3. Priorities

The operational programme is centred on six priorities:

Priority 1: encourage the creation of wealth and jobs in the Azores [around 34.0% of total investment]

This priority, which concerns economic production in general and businesses in particular, focuses on boosting and strengthening the Azores economy with a view to improving its competitiveness by:

  • strengthening and diversifying the economic fabric of the region;
  • promoting the spirit of enterprise and innovation;
  • disseminating the use of information and communication technologies (ICT) in order to establish an information society.

Priority 2: strengthen the society of the Azores and improve integration [around 23.1% of total investment]

The planned measures concern the modernisation and upgrading of infrastructure and equipment in the fields of education, health, cultural heritage and local events. They will help to improve levels of education and qualification among the inhabitants of the Azores and improve their quality of life, particularly among those living in restricted spaces and in areas with lower population densities.

This priority will be implemented in conjunction with the actions to be co-financed by the European Social Fund (ESF).

Priority 3: improve regional infrastructure networks linked to accessibility [around 16.9% of total investment]

As the Azores form an archipelago, accessibility plays an essential role in the development of internal and external markets and in people's mobility.

The aim behind the intended measures is to improve road networks and also to consolidate and modernise maritime transport by helping to increase efficiency in terms of the mobility of people and goods. Improving the efficiency and safety of transport systems also constitutes an objective under this priority. This priority will be implemented in conjunction with the actions to be co-financed by the Cohesion Fund.

Priority 4: upgrade and enhance the environmental system [around 14.6% of total investment]

The objectives of this priority concern:

  • regional planning;
  • increased coverage by the environmental infrastructure network;
  • the development of resources and the promotion of environmental balance;
  • the improvement of prevention- and risk-management systems.

These objectives will be achieved in particular through:

  • the financing of regional and coastal development plans;
  • investments in the renovation and construction of supply and treatment infrastructure for drinking water, purification and treatment infrastructure for waste water, and waste management;
  • environmental awareness-raising and promotion;
  • the development and introduction of emergency plans;
  • the monitoring and assessment of the risk parameters in the aim of preventing accidents and catastrophes.

Priority 5: compensation for the additional costs linked to the remoteness of the Azores (allocation for the outermost regions) [around 11.0% of total investment]

This priority concerns the specific additional allocation to cover additional costs linked to the disadvantages suffered by the outermost regions. Part of this allocation (50% maximum) will be used to finance investment aid for air transport infrastructure.

As regards operating aid and public service obligations, this priority is intended to compensate the costs of double insularity and will be used to finance the additional costs incurred by:

  • public service obligations relating to air transport between the nine islands of the archipelago;
  • the transportation of the sick from the six islands of the archipelago without a hospital to the three which have a hospital;
  • the transportation of the sick from the archipelago to specialised units on the continent;
  • the transportation of certain categories of waste to treatment centres on specific islands and/or from such centres to the continent for final treatment.

Priority 6: technical assistance [around 0.4% of total investment]

The programme also comprises provisions for technical assistance for programme implementation and focuses on the coordination, management, assessment and monitoring of actions to ensure a more efficient use of financial resources.

Financial and Technical information

Operational Programme 'Azores'

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
Encourage the creation of wealth and jobs in the Azores 344 444 353 60 784 298 405 228 651
Strengthen the society of the Azores and improve integration 233 781 483 41 255 556 275 037 039
Improve regional infrastructure networks linked to accessibility 170 989 709 30 174 655 201 164 364
Upgrade and enhance the environmental system 147 532 671 26 035 177 173 567 848
Compensation for the additional costs linked to the remoteness of the Azores ('OR' allocation) 65 600 833 65 600 833 131 201 666
Technical assistance 4 000 000 705 882 4 705 882
Total 966 349 049 224 556 401 1 190 905 450