Exploring the North Sea Port Cross-Border Cooperation!

The Netherlands and Belgium share land and water borders which can be seen as a great opportunity for mutual growth. In 2018, the two countries joined forces by merging the area’s key seaports of Vlissingen, Terneuzen and the port of Ghent, creating the North Sea Port. This good practice article highlights the collaborative efforts to address the struggle of filling job vacancies in border-regions, mainly in the industrial and technological sectors.


In 2021, combined efforts of the Netherlands and Belgium led to the inception of the North Sea Port Talent Project, aiming to strengthen the labor market in North Sea’s border regions. The project was driven by the belief that collaborative efforts among various stakeholders can efficiently address workforce challenges in border regions, by improving the match between employment supply and demand.

The main objective of the project was the formulation of comprehensive plans in the short and long-term addressing the following:

Short Term: Testing of pilot projects, particularly focusing on STEM jobs and candidates with a minimum secondary education diploma, to find out which methodologies can have a short-term positive impact on labor shortage. Additionally, the short-term plan explored mobility solutions within the port area to facilitate commuting. This plan drew inspiration from the successful cross-regional training centre “Aviato”, found at the Brussels airport. 

Medium to Long Term: Developed a cross-border service model for work and training, catering to the long-term needs of the labor market, aiming to align workforce supply with the demands of regional companies. 


The main participating stakeholders in the North Sea Port Talent project included companies, educational institutions, local governments, and industry organizations on both sides of the border. Key partners involved are the city of Ghent, the VDAB (public employment service of Flanders), the UWV (Employee Insurance Agency), and the WSP Terneuzen (Werkservicepunt Zeeuws-Vlaanderen.

North Sea Port cross-border area


The cross-border port area of North Sea Port covers a 60-kilometer stretch from Vlissingen on the Dutch North Sea coast, reaching 32 kilometers inland to Ghent in Belgium. 


The project initiated on April 19, 2021, with a total investment of 810,000 euros, co-funded by 50% by the ERDF, as part of the 2014 - 2020 INTERREG V-A Belgium - The Netherlands Programme.


Building upon the institution of countless and ever-evolving socio-economic results of the cross-border North Sea Port, the North Sea Port Talent project led to the following outcomes:

  • Successful implementation of pilot projects to address immediate labor market shortages, especially in STEM roles.
  • Exploration of innovative commuting solutions within the port area.
  • Establishment of the North Sea Port Talent non-profit organization, in June 2023. This NGO continues the project’s mission to fill all current, and future vacancies in the North Sea Port Area by combining the forces of public and private partners.

Learn more about the cross-border port at the North Sea Port's Website! 

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