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Brussels, 11 January 2001

Commission approves EUR 675.9 million programme for Upper Normandy (France)

The Commission has approved a regional development programme for the Upper Normandy region for 2000-06. It provides for EUR 312.8 million worth of Community funding, which will help to mobilise a total package approaching EUR 675.9 million from the public and private sectors. This sum is intended to reduce unemployment and bring the rate of business start-ups up to the national average. The PORT 2000 project should result in 25 800 existing jobs being sustained and 7 000 jobs being created initially, followed by some 3 000 over the lifetime of the project (5 years). As regards training, priority will be given to the new information and telecommunications technologies.

"Upper Normandy has endorsed the inclusion of environmental considerations in all the main funding priorities of this programme," said Michel Barnier, Commissioner for regional policy, presenting the decision. "Considerable effort has been made to reconcile the need to protect the ecosystem of the Seine estuary with the growth requirements necessary for the region as a whole, based on the flagship PORT 2000 project to develop a fast port at Le Havre. I am confident that the provisions contained in this programme for consultation, publicity, training and equal opportunities will help to achieve the ambitious goals that the region has set itself regarding sustainable development, goals which are fully in tune with Community priorities."

The strategy of the Upper Normandy programme is the fruit of a consultation plan involving national government departments, the main local authorities, public bodies, the social partners and trade associations. It is based on five priorities:

  • Diversifying economic activity and creating the conditions for growth and employment. The plan to develop a diversified regional economy, anchored in an efficient and innovative industrial base, rests on a number of strategic priorities - logistics, tourism, market services, local development and stimulating economic activity. The process will be supported by appropriate training provision, oriented towards reskilling and vocational guidance, together with measures to raise awareness of the need for sustainable development.

  • Consolidating the economy and the logistical infrastructure of the region's main ports. The development project for the three major national ports - Le Havre, Rouen and Dieppe - is intended to modernise and revitalise all three, with the aim of converting them into the main gateway for French overseas trade. Foremost among such measures is the PORT 2000 project - a strategic flagship project for the whole region, designed to equip Le Havre to handle large container vessels. According to estimates, some 40% of the measures under the programme will be closely linked to the implementation of PORT 2000. Targeted measures to improve vocational skills and promote "green" management practice will be an integral part of the process.

  • Promoting sustainable urban development. This priority involves tackling the typical problems of urban environments (in particular as they impact on disadvantaged sections of society that are excluded from the mainstream of urban development), restructuring urban neighbourhoods, regenerating wasteland and run-down areas (e.g. areas cities, ports and rivers meet) and reincorporating them into the urban infrastructure, promoting innovation in the management of the various urban and suburban utilities (waste disposal, energy and water supply) and training personnel working in the social field. Efforts will be concentrated on two major cities in particular: Rouen and Le Havre.

  • Stimulating environmental improvements and protection. Whereas the Upper Normandy programme as a whole has been based on environmental considerations and the precautionary principle, individual projects will provide additional support for environmental concerns in the region. The accent will be on measures to preserve natural resources and the countryside (NATURA 2000), industrial risk management (several "SEVESO"-type sites exist), reducing pollution (air, soil, energy, etc.), promoting sustainable development through information, education and consultation, as well as vocational training in environmentally friendly practices.

  • Supporting agriculture. Due to the relatively small proportion of assistance available under Objective 2, the region will concentrate resources on developing added value and improving the quality of products in the sector, together with measures to protect the soil and improve water resource management.

Funding for this regional development programme will come from three Community Funds: the European Regional Development Fund, or ERDF (the responsibility of Mr Barnier), the European Social Fund, or ESF (under Mrs Diamantopoulou, the Commissioner for employment and social affairs), and the Guarantee Section of the European Agricultural Guidance and Guarantee Fund, or EAGGF (overseen by Mr Fischler, Commissioner for agriculture and fisheries). The bulk of the Community share (81%) will come from the ERDF, with the ESF contributing 17% and the EAGGF 2%.

The final decision on the programming document for the Upper Normandy region will be taken by the Commission following scrutiny by the three relevant advisory committees(1). The final decision will be signed by Mr Barnier in the next few weeks.

For additional information, see:

(1)The Commission's decision in principle has to be submitted for opinion to three advisory committees made up of representatives of the Member States: the Consultative Committee for the Development and Conversion of Regions, the Committee set up under Article 147 of the EC Treaty (ESF Committee) and the Committee for Agricultural Structures and Rural Development.

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