Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

  • European Commission
  • Programmes
  • Community action (EEC) to protect the environment in the coastal areas and coastal waters of the Irish Sea, North Sea, English Channel, Baltic Sea and North-East Atlantic Ocean (NORSPA), 1991-1992

Successor programme


Programme funding

EUR 16,5 million

Official Journal Reference

L 370 of 1991-12-31

Legislative Reference

3908/91/CEE of 1991-12-19
To intensify efforts to protect and improve the quality of the environment and increase the effectiveness of Community environment policy and measures in the region concerned; to help make the environmental dimension a more integral part of action taken by the Community pursuant to other Community policies; to increase cooperation and coordination on protection of the environment in the region concerned by integrating Community action and the operations carried out at regional, national and international level; to promote the introduction and use of clean or low pollution technologies, the transfer of such technologies and the exchange of experience relevant to the environment of the areas concerned.


One of the objectives of Community action relating to the environment is to preserve, protect and improve the quality of the environment and, in formulating that action, it takes account of, inter alia, environmental conditions in the various regions of the Community. In the framework of the continuation and implementation of the fourth Community policy and action programme on the environment (1987-1992), combating freshwater and marine pollution by means of the general improvement of the aquatic environment, in particular in the North Sea and the Mediterranean Sea, is among the areas of particular importance for Community action. The ministerial declaration of the participants in the Third International Conference on the Protection of the North Sea, held in the Hague on 7 and 8 March 1990, stressed the need to protect the environment of the North Sea and adopted a package of specific measures accompanied by a precise timetable. Regulation (EEC) No 3908/91 on the NORSPA action was adopted to fulfil a need for a combined international effort by all the coastal States to protect the environment of the Irish Sea, North Sea, English Channel, Baltic Sea, North- Atlantic Ocean north of the Tagus, the Azores, Madeira and the Canary Islands. Certain measures in this field can be carried out more effectively at Community level than by the individual States.

This programme is repealed by Council Regulation (EEC) No 1973/92 of 21.5.1992 establishing the LIFE financial instrument.


Priority measures:

- Action in the Community:
. Reduction of nutrient inputs, including those due to agricultural activities;
. Reduction of inputs of persistent, toxic and potentially bioaccumulative substances;
. Reduction of dumping of sewage sludge and of contaminated dredged materials;
. Treatment of water from ships' tanks containing residues of oil and other chemicals;
. Speeding up of the application of emission standards by industries responsible for significant pollution from specific sources;
. Promotion of the conservation of marine life;
. Integrated management of biotopes of Community interest;
. Protection of soil threatened or degraded by forest fires, coastal erosion or the disappearance of the dune belt;

- Action in certain non-Community countries with Baltic coasts:
. Help with the establishment of the requisite environmental administrative structures;
. Technical assistance required for the establishment of environmental policies and action programmes;

- Operations to deal with a problem likely, within a short time, to give rise to a lasting change in the ecological conditions in the area concerned.


The Commission, assisted by the advisory committee set up by Council Regulation (EEC) No 563/91 (MEDSPA), was responsible for the implementation of the programme.

Financial support took the form of:

- Capital grants towards investment in projects other than infrastructure projects;
- Financial contributions towards pilot or demonstration schemes, towards measures designed to provide the information essential to the implementation of the NORSPA action or of the technical assistance measures implemented on the initiative of the Commission and towards measures designed to improve supervision and monitoring of the environment concerned and promote the exchange of experience and technology transfer;
- Interest rebates for infrastructure projects;
- Repayable advances decided on a case by case basis.

Community financial support for operations was subject to the following limits:

- A maximum of 50% of the total cost in the case of public investment projects and pilot or demonstration schemes;
- A maximum of 30% of the total cost in the case of private investment projects for non-commercial purposes;
- A maximum of 100% of the total cost of measures designed to provide the information essential to the execution of the action or of the technical assistance measures implemented on the initiative of the Commission.

The Commission was responsible for ensuring that operations financed by the Community have been properly carried out, to prevent and take action against irregularities and to recover sums unduly paid as a result of irregularities or negligence. The Commission also ensured effective monitoring of the implementation of the NORSPA action by means of reporting procedures agreed jointly between the Commission and the beneficiary of the operation and by spot checks. The Commission reported to the committee on the progress of implementation including the use made of appropriations.

For each multiannual action, the beneficiary was required to submit progress reports to the Commission within six months of the end of each full year of implementation. A final report is submitted to the Commission within six months of completion of the operation. For each operation implemented over a period of less than two years, the beneficiary submits a report to the Commission within six months of completion of the action.
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