Operational Programme 'North West England'

Programme under the Regional Competitiveness and Employment Objective 2007-13, co-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF)

United Kingdom

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On 17 December 2007, the European Commission approved a Regional Operational Programme for the North West of England for the period 2007-13. The Operational Programme falls within the framework laid out for the Regional Competitiveness and Employment Objective and has a total budget of about €1.5 billion. Community assistance through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) amounts to about €756 million, which represents approximately 7.1% of the total EU investment earmarked for the United Kingdom under the Cohesion Policy 2007-13.

1. Purpose and aim of the programme

The Operational Programme’s overall vision is to create a dynamic and sustainable economy which competes on the basis of knowledge, advanced technology and an excellent quality of life. The Programme seeks to stimulate high productivity and improve enterprise levels. The emphasis is on developing a low carbon economy which is driven by innovation, excellent leadership and high skill levels. The objective is to achieve high employment rates while eliminating concentrations of low employment that currently exist within the region.

The programme will integrate two pivotal cross-cutting themes – namely environmental sustainability and equality and diversity. The programme recognises that investments in human, social and environmental capital, as well as technological innovation, are the prerequisites for long-term competitiveness and economic prosperity. The programme will therefore build on experience gained through the North West’s participation in the 2000-06 Structural Fund programmes by establishing specific environmental and equal opportunities objectives, indicators and quantified targets for each of its priorities.

2. Expected impact of the investment

The programme has three global targets by which progress will be measured:

  • Target one aims to support the creation of 26 300 new jobs by 2015;
  • Target two seeks to boost the region’s gross value added figures by an additional €1 550 by 2015;
  • Target three supports a 25% reduction in additional CO2 emissions that will be generated by the programme.

3. Priority axes

The Operational Programme is structured around the following priority axes:

Priority axis 1: Stimulating enterprise and supporting growth in target sectors and growing markets [approximately 27.1% of total funding]

This priority aims to ensure that the region creates more businesses that can compete in high-value markets. Corresponding activities will seek to build on existing strengths in high-value markets and capitalise on new sustainable market opportunities.

Priority axis 2: Exploiting innovation and knowledge [approximately 27.1% of total funding]

The goal is to ensure that the region’s businesses and institutions can improve their performance by driving forward take-up of knowledge and innovation. Related actions aim to help businesses move into higher-value activities. Extending the market reach of businesses will improve their competitiveness and stimulate cooperation between local enterprises and the region’s research and development (R&D) providers and higher education institutions. This will ensure a supply of good quality, commercially viable ideas that will eventually lead to new products, processes, customers and markets.

Priority axis 3: Creating conditions for sustainable growth [approximately 20.7% of total funding]

This priority axis seeks to improve quality of life, tackle deprivation and promote social inclusion by investing in infrastructure. Funds will also be spent to improve the region’s cultural and tourist infrastructure. Support for the Merseyside area will feature strongly in the programme. This sub-region enjoys phasing-in status, which makes it possible to extend financial support to cover convergence activities and investments.

Priority axis 4: Growing and accessing employment [approximately 21.1% of total funding]

As part of this Programme’s efforts to promote economic growth, priority axis four aims to improve employment opportunities for those areas and social groups which require help to participate in the labour market. Corresponding activities will stimulate investment in infrastructure and help businesses grow in disadvantaged areas.

Priority axis 5: Technical assistance [approximately 4.0% of total funding]

Technical assistance will be made available to support the Programme’s implementation.

Financial and Technical information

Operational Programme 'North West England'

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
Stimulating enterprise and supporting growth in target sectors and markets 204 895 648 194 650 866 399 546 514
Exploiting innovation and knowledge 204 895 648 194 650 866 399 546 514
Creating conditions for sustainable growth 156 606 158 140 945 542 297 551 700
Growing and accessing employment 159 126 972 151 170 623 310 297 595
Technical assistance 30 230 185 30 230 185 60 460 370
Total 755 754 611 711 648 082 1 467 402 693