Seine-Nord Europe Canal Company

Learn more about the Seine-Nord Europe Canal

What is the Seine-Nord Europe Canal? What are its objectives and its ambition at the heart of the Region, France and Europe? 

The Canal at home

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The history of the project

The idea of ​​a river link for large boats between the Seine basin and the northern European network emerged in 1975. The Canal du Nord, opened 10 years earlier, has indeed shown its limits because it was built on plans drawn up at the end of the XNUMXth century.

  • About the Canal du Nord: as part of a study initiated in 2016 by the Cultural Heritage Inventory Service of the Hauts-de-France Region, discover or rediscover the history of the Canal du Nord. A canal commissioned in 1966, but whose construction was interrupted for nearly 50 years, dates back to 1908. The details of this study are available on the Hauts-de-France Region Heritage Inventory website.

From public debate to PPP

In 1993-1994, a public debate outlines the opportunity, the needs and the major characteristics of the future project. In a context of reinforcement of European river activity, Voies Navigables de France (VNF) carried out preliminary studies in the following years. A first consultation on the choice of the passage zone of the canal took place in 1997-1998 among 21 divided into 3 families.

Several important steps are then taken:

  • March 4, 2002 : choice of zone (strip 1 to 3 km wide inside which the Canal route will fit),
  • December 2003 – April 2004 : registration of the Canal among the French priority projects and commitment of studies and consultation of the preliminary draft phase,
  • 2004-2006 : the APS studies give rise to the holding of 70 consultation meetings and 5 major public meetings in the territories,
  • 20th November 2006 : approval of the preliminary draft by the Minister responsible for transport,
  • January 15 - March 15, 2007 : public inquiry prior to the declaration of public utility,
  • September 11, 2008 : declaration of public utility of the Canal Seine-Nord Europe and its related facilities.

In 2010, the first preparatory works (lowering of the A29 motorway in the Somme) began. The following year, the competitive dialogue began with a view toaward of a public-private partnership contract (PPP), procedure chosen in the 2000s for the realization of the project. But with the consequences of the financial crisis of 2008, the conditions for the success of the PPP are no longer met and the procedure cannot succeed, bringing the project to a sudden halt.

The reconfiguration

However, in a context where environmental and soon climate issues are on everyone's lips, the waterway remains a modern and adapted response. In 2013, the desire to relaunch the Seine-Nord Europe Canal exists, both in France with the launch by the government of a reconfiguration mission entrusted to the deputy of the Nord Rémi Pauvros, and at European level with the declaration adopted on October 17 in Tallinn by the European Commissioner and the French, Walloon, Flemish and Dutch transport ministers.

Between 2013 and 2015, the initial project was reconfigured: each characteristic was studied under the sign of a optimization of economic and environmental performance. The route is modified between the Somme and the Pas-de-Calais after further consultation with the territories. This gives rise to an amending public inquiry in the fall of 2015, which will lead to an amending public statement on April 20, 2017.

The creation of the project company

Before that, another essential evolution in the conduct of the project intervenes: a project company, the Société du Canal Seine-Nord Europe (SCSNE) is created by an order of April 21, 2016, giving the signal for recovery. Local authorities – the Hauts-de-France region, the departments of Nord, Oise, Pas-de-Calais and Somme sit on the Supervisory Board alongside the State and the European Union. This new public state institution is entrusted with the project management.

The mobilization of elected officials

But in June 2017, the State decided to put a break on major projects. After the summer, the strong mobilization of the elected officials of Hauts-de-France for the "Yes to the Canal" makes it possible to act an agreement between the State and the local authorities : the Société du Canal Seine-Nord Europe will be transformed into a local public establishment piloted by the elected representatives of the Region and the Departments who finance the project, in partnership with the State and with the support of the European Union. This change is enshrined in the mobility orientation law of December 24, 2019 and comes into force on April 1, 2020. For the first time, the large communities of a territory will pilot the construction of a major infrastructure of regional, national and European importance.

Europe, a committed player

On June 27, 2019, Europe is committed by the adoption by the European Commission of the Implementing Act. This is a fundamental step for the project, which confirms the growing support of the European Union for the Seine-Escaut network, since its inclusion in 2004 as a priority project of the European core network. This implementing act sets and specifies the deadlines for the completion of the various sections of the Seine-Escaut network until its complete opening, in particular with commissioning of the Seine-Nord Europe Canal. Its developments are now eligible for work funding from the EU up to 50% of their amount.


Added July 2, 2019 - Updated September 13, 2022

Press release SCSNE - Adoption of the implementing decision by the European Commission

The financing agreement signed

At the same time, the financing of the work is also changing, with a more important place for Europe, up to 40% (compared to 6% in the first version of the project), and a respective envelope of 1,1 billion euros provided by communities and the state. On November 22, 2019, in the presence of the President of the Republic, the final financing agreement was signed, in Nesle. The SCSNE has the visibility and the means to carry out the entire project.

The Channel is progressing...

Initiated more than thirty years ago, the Seine-Nord Europe Canal has gradually built its maturity to impose itself today, as central link of the European Seine-Escaut link, like a major investment in the ecological transition with a promising future and economic and social development for the territories that host it. A sign of the times, its adaptation to the economic and environmental challenges of the 21st century took less than 5 years, based on advanced eco-design which is part of a High environmental quality (HQE). The Seine-Nord Europe Canal is today a concrete illustration of the 3rd industrial revolution in Hauts-de-France (Rev3) to promote a more sustainable and united region for and with people, territories and the planet!