Fabian Demicoli

Project ideas, Funding ideas requested

 New Cohesion
funds 2014 – 2020 coming up! – The information session on Cohesion
Policy 2014-2020 was organised by MEUSAC. In his introduction DrVanniXuereb,
Head MEUSAC, stated that Cohesion Policy is essential for the functioning of
the EU also because it aims at bridging the gap between high income and lower
income countries. Cohesion funds create a lot of work and employment
opportunities through infrastructure and social projects. The current funding
period will come to a close in 2013 and we have started thinking and preparing
for the next funding period, starting 2014.

The presentation was delivered by
Planning and Priorities Coordination Division's (PPCD) EU funds Coordination
Director Maria Pia Pace. This relatively new unit within PPCD  works primarily on policy, amongst which is
Cohesion Policy. Ms Pace outlined that a third of the EU Budget is allocated to
Cohesion Policy, a total of €376B.

Fund allocation to the countries will
be divided between 3 categories, according to the level of development, where
the least developed regions would benefit from higher amounts of funding. Malta
will classify for less funding compared to the least developed regions since it
was categorised as a transition region. Malta however will also have a ‘safety
net' because it will still be given two thirds of the previous funding
programme's financial allocation.

The EU has already issued guidelines in
the form of thematic concentrations where funding should be targeted, these to
help the EU and the Member States reach the targets set in the Europe 2020
strategy and the national reform programmes. Member States therefore are up to
a certain extent obliged to allocate funds to the outlined thematic
concentrations. The 5 targets of the EU 2020 strategy are: Employment, Climate
Change, Education and Reduction of Poverty.

Currently discussions are undergoing
and negotiations will be concluded by end 2013, with the Operational
Programmesfinalised by the 1st quarter of 2014.

Present for the meeting the GRTU stated
that the employment schemes under the current funding period where critical to
sustaining our employment levels and the next programming period should include
further incentives for enterprises to invest in their workforce. GRTU however
outlined that a problem found within the current funding period should be
addressed in view of the next. A significant number of enterprises were
surprised that they could not benefit because for instance within their
partner's company, which was totally independent and within a different sector,
there had been a redundancy. It is in fact a requirement set by the EU that
companies having had recent redundancies cannot benefit from employment
schemes. Different companies having a common shareholder or partner are
regarded as one company. GRTU argued that being a small country it was very
common for companies to have common shareholders and partners. GRTU therefore
told the PPCD that Malta's case is particular and our case should be argued to
exempt Malta from such a requirement.

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