The Operational Program “Regional Azores 2014-2020” is a multi-fund Program with contributions from the European Regional Development Fund and European Social Fund for the period 2014-2020, covering the outermost region of Azores. The total allocation of the Operational Program comes to EUR 1.4 billion with a financial contribution of EUR 1.1 billion from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and European Social Fund (ESF).
The program aims to contribute to the fulfillment of the Europe 2020 strategy namely by:
- fostering Research and Development (R&D) knowledge transfer to SMEs,
- promoting the competitiveness of the businesses of the region,
- promoting sustainable transport chiefly by developing and improving low-carbon transport systems,
- investing in education, training and vocational training for skills and lifelong learning,
- supporting the development of renewable energy sources and improving energy efficiency in enterprises and buildings and
- promoting sustainable and quality employment and supporting labor mobility.
Situated in the Atlantic North, 1450 km from the Portuguese mainland, the Azores is an archipelago of 9 islands with 250 000 inhabitants. The geostrategic position of the Azores, its large maritime exclusive economic zone, and rich biodiversity are strong assets. It is a privileged location for the development of spatial technologies, a solid blue growth sector, and tourism. Agriculture is essential for the region´s economy (e.g. production of beef and milk). The local production of pineapple, wine, and canned fish can become a real competitive asset. But the region faces many challenges. The unemployment rate of young people is more than double the EU average. Low level of qualification and early school-leaving remain issues.