The 7 countries around the North Sea working together to solve shared problems with the environmental, social and economic development are: Denmark, Sweden, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, United Kingdom and Norway.
100 of the 105 eligible regions within the Programme area were involved in at least one project by the end of the Programme.
70 projects have been approved and completed their work with visible results that illustrate the progress made towards the Programme target.
The amount of the total eligible expenditure was about 275 Mio. €. Out of this the total grant was about 137 Mio. €.
80% of the projects had material investments.
More than 7.750 organisations have been participating in one or more of the 70 approved projects.
More than 40.000 people were involved in the Programme.
In total 805 training courses were delivered, with more than 8.200 participants
The regions around the North Sea face a number of common challenges: rural areas are increasingly
affected by demographic change and out-migration, as well by a lack of economic competitiveness in
comparison to urban centres. The North Sea Region is rich in pristine landscapes and natural resources,
which in turn present a large amount of potential for sustainable development. The diverse natural
environment along the North Sea coasts is however under pressure by economic activities and vulnerable
to risks caused by maritime traffic and natural hazards. Cities and towns have to deal with competition and
structural change and are therefore aiming at innovative urban development strategies, while making use
of local assets such as cultural or maritime heritage.
The North Sea Programme 2000-2006 aimed at finding joint solutions for the common challenges and foster
regional development throughout the North Sea Region. Thus the Programme co-funded 70 transnational
cooperation projects, which worked on a broad range of topics focusing on one of the six main themes identified by
While encouraging urban-rural and inter-rural cooperation, the 9 projects under theme 1 developed strategies addressing
to improve the quality of life in rural and peripheral areas. Featured solutions included:
- The development of new opportunities for small-scale rural tourism;
- New services to support the everyday life in peripheral areas;
- The protection and regeneration of valuable landscapes and townscapes;
- The sustainable development of national parks;
- Improved accessibility by developing innovative public transport services.
The 9 projects under theme 2 focused on the development of risk management strategies and practices for rivers and coasts in
order to reduce flood risks and improve maritime safety. Intensive networking and knowledge exchange, as well as public awareness
building were at the core of the project activities. The activities included:
- Harmonised coastal defence strategies including coastal flood and erosion risk management;
- Changed land use and enhanced spatial planning patterns in flood risk areas;
- A highwater information system;
- International standards for maritime safety;
- The development of a common North Sea framework for risk assessment at sea and a tool for risk assessment of navigational safety, including AIS (Automatic Identification System) data;
- A digital spatial program to predict the impact of winds on forests.
10 projects worked on the improvement of transport links in the North Sea Region (theme 3) and achieved innovative results concerning the development of inter-modal transport systems, regional air transport systems and passenger traffic. Examples of concrete project outcomes included:
- Shifting cargo from road to waterborne transport and establishing new or improved short shipping services;
- Enhanced business-to-business cooperation between ports and industry;
- Promoting ‘Motorway of the Sea’ in the Trans-European Network;
- Using effective urban design to improve accessibility, safety, quality of life and local identity;
- Facilitating the use of alternatives to the car by different modes of mobility management;
- Strengthening regional airports and improved accessibility of peripheral regions.
Promoting the sustainable management of natural resources and assets of the region, the use of renewable energies, integrated coastal zone management and the protection of the marine environment were the key topics for the 19 projects under theme 4. Common solutions were developed for:
- Innovative management of drinking water and sewage, such as groundwater protection, the separation of drain and rain water from the sewer system and the sustainable management of ancient groundwater reservoirs;
- The development of renewable energy sources, such as offshore wind energy and bio-energy by way of establishing competence networks;
- Waste management, e.g. developing technologies for waste reception and the reduction of pollution;
- Sustainable economic development, e.g. harmonising fish management for the North Sea and finding economic development opportunities connected to conservation.
The 9 projects under theme 5 focused on the promotion of a knowledge society enhancing information and communications infrastructure within the region yet while also strengthening innovation in the fields of renewables and sustainable transport. These activities covered both the development of ICT infrastructure and education measures. Featured project outcomes included:
- Facilitating participation in civil society in rural areas by enhancing e-services, improving the contact to government institutions via ICT and promoting eDemocracy and eParticipation;
- Increasing the accessibility of broadband and wireless internet while aiming to stimulate regional development;
- Increasing the efficiency of freight and harbour management directives;
- Improving research opportunities and facilities for the further development of renewable energies and stimulating innovation among companies in the field.
Sustainable rural and urban development was the focus of the 14 projects under theme 6. Maintaining balance between rural and urban areas while ensuring the development of more competitive cities and towns were regarded as essential for the strengthening of the region as a whole. Important elements in the projects undertakings were networking and citizen involvement. The projects achieved tangible results concerning:
- The promotion of water as an important structural element for spatial planning;
- The benefits of sustainable home construction;
- Networking, training and identification of best practices for the tourism industry;
- The revitalisation of port and waterfront areas, design and use of public space, the reduction of urban-rural disparities and the overall effectiveness of spatial planning.
The North Sea Programme 2000-2006 projects created a number of lasting impacts on the North Sea Region, which by far exceeded expectations. A number of projects were highly successful with influencing regional, national and European legislation as well in addition, enhancing spatial planning and risk management practices in place. Others initiated the implementation of new concepts and processes on a North Sea region scale and that even beyond. Additionally other projects even managed to attract additional investments outreaching the original scope of their project activities. One crucial factor for the success of the projects was to ensure the support of stakeholders and politicians, but also to stimulate the involvement of the local inhabitants. In many cases, the transnational cooperation has not concluded with the official closing up of the project, rather has been continued on another basis or that which is in the framework of a follow-up project under the North Sea Region Programme 2007-2013.
Overall, each individual project in one way or another has made an attributable difference to the North Sea Region. More information about the themes and projects can be found here.