The European Commission has formally approved the Cooperation Programme for the Northern Periphery and Arctic 2014-2020. The programme is among the first batch of transnational programmes to be approved.
The approval concludes a process of programme preparation that has spanned over 2 years. Regional and national stakeholders in all partner countries as well as NPP projects, programme bodies and Ex Ante evaluators have contributed to the development of the new cooperation programme.
The Northern Periphery and Arctic Programme 2014-2020 forms a cooperation between 9 programme partner countries; the Member States of Finland, Ireland, Sweden and the United Kingdom (Scotland and Northern Ireland) in cooperation with the Faroe Islands, Iceland, Greenland and Norway. The Programme area, which borders on Canada in the West and Russia in the East, shares a number of common features, such as low population density, low accessibility, low economic diversity, abundant natural resources, and high impact of climate change. This unique combination of features results in joint challenges and joint opportunities that can best be overcome and realised by transnational cooperation.
Over the next 7 years, the NPA 2014-2020 will allocate approx. 56 MEUR to projects through bi-annual calls for applications with the aim to expand the regions’ horizons, building on concrete outcomes and enabling the programme area to be a 1st class region to live, study, work, visit and invest. It is the programme’s vision is to help to generate vibrant, competitive and sustainable communities, by harnessing innovation, expanding the capacity for entrepreneurship and seizing the unique growth initiatives and opportunities of the Northern and Arctic regions in a resource efficient way.
The development needs and potentials of the programme area, together with the policy and historic context have resulted in 4 priority axes to achieve the programme vision:
- Using Innovation to Maintain And Develop Robust And Competitive Communities
- Promoting Entrepreneurship to Realise the Potential of the Programme Area’s Competitive Advantage
- Fostering Energy-Secure Communities through Promotion of Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency
- Protecting, Promoting and Developing Cultural and Natural Heritage
The NPA 2014-2020 has the potential to add a regional development level to the EU Arctic Policy as well as the national Arctic policies. It is the common challenges of the Northern Periphery Programme area, sparse population, peripherality, insularity and harsh conditions that also apply to Arctic cooperation. The Arctic dimension plays in that way a cross-cutting role in the Programme.
Types of changes fostered by the Programme include, for example:
- Change of attitude and of actual behaviour in relation to innovation processes, entrepreneurship and market behaviour among SMEs in the low densely populated areas outside the regional centres; and
- Enhanced capacity and preparedness in local and regional communities to handle the risks connected to climate change and large scale exploitation of natural resources.
The NPA 2014-2020 was launched at the Cool North conference on 30th September in Scotland, which also formed the starting point for the First Call for main project applications. By the call deadline late November, 20 main project applications were received, which are currently being assessed by the Joint Secretariat and Regional Advisory Groups in each of the programme partner countries. Decisions will be made by the Monitoring Committee on 10th February 2015. In the meantime, the Second Call will be opened on 5th January, with a closing date on 10th April.
The approval of the programme means that an ongoing call for preparatory projects will be launched shortly. In previous programme periods, this has been a useful tool to bring potential project partners together and to generate high-quality main project applications. For more information about preparatory projects and the minimum requirements, please see the Programme Manual, chapter 1.6.1.
For more information about the NPA 2014-2020, please see this factsheet or visit www.interreg-npa.eu.