Cohesion for growth and employment
By the end of 2011, 40 % of Cornwall’s businesses were expected to benefit from the ‘Next Generation’ broadband project, exceeding the initial target for the whole programme.
A programme to help new entrepreneurs and businesses in a time of crisis has been launched in Greece. Funded by the European Social Fund, it aims to give a helping hand to at least 3 600 businesses and create 2 000 jobs.
The seventh high-speed TGV rail connection in the French Rhine–Rhône region opened in late 2011, including 13 viaducts, 160 bridges, a 2 km tunnel and two brand new railway stations: Bescançon Franche Comté TGV and Belfort-Montbélliard TGV.
Eight Member States (Denmark, Germany, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Finland and Sweden) have joined forces to protect the sensitive marine environment of the Baltic Sea.
‘Cohesion for growth and employment’ covers the Structural Funds, i.e. the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the European Social Fund (ESF), as well as the Cohesion Fund (CF).
It relates essentially to the following policy areas:
- regional policy, for the ERDF and the CF, and
- employment and social affairs, for the ESF.
The principal objective of the Structural Funds and the CF is to strengthen economic, social and territorial cohesion between regions and Member States of the EU, by providing additional resources for those regions and countries whose economic development is lagging behind. The Structural Funds also aim at strengthening regions’ competitiveness and attractiveness, as well as employment, and at strengthening cross-border, transnational and interregional cooperation. The resources available are concentrated on promoting economic convergence, in particular on sustainable growth, competitiveness and employment in line with the Europe 2020 strategy. These resources are also essential tools to fight financial, economic and social crisis and the Commission has proposed practical measures such as simplification of the management, additional advance payments and a facility for reprogramming, in order to maximise their use.
Cohesion policy aims to reduce disparities between the level of development of regions and countries of the European Union. Overall funding for the period 2007–13 amounts to EUR 348 billion in current prices.
Three main objectives are supported by three funds; spending on them in 2011 is set out in the table below:
|Convergence||ERDF EUR 19 252 million||ESF EUR 6 415 million||Cohesion Fund EUR 5 505 million|
|Regional competitiveness and employment||ERDF EUR 4 135 million||ESF EUR 3 104 million|
|European territorial cooperation||ERDF EUR 898 million|
This objective covers long-term competitiveness, job creation and sustainable development in the less-developed regions and Member States; 70.5 % of funding for this objective is allocated to regions with a GDP per capita of less than 75 % of the EU average and around 5 % goes towards transitional support to regions that became ineligible for convergence funding due to the statistical effect of enlargement. The remaining 24.5 % is allocated via the Cohesion Fund to Member States whose GNI per capita is less than 90 % of the EU average. Eligibility criteria are: population (structure, density, etc.); regional and national prosperity; and surface area and unemployment rates.
This objective funds regions not covered by the convergence objective, and is aimed at strengthening regions’ competitiveness, attractiveness and employment; 79 % of funding is allocated among Member States according to eligible population, regional prosperity, (un)employment and population density of the regions covered. The remaining 21 % is allocated as transitional support to regions that have become ineligible for convergence funding because their GDP per capita increased to above 75 % of the average GDP of the EU, i.e. they experienced growth.
This objective covers cross-border, transnational and interregional cooperation. It also funds peace and reconciliation actions in Northern Ireland.
Member States whose GNI per capita is less than 90 % of the EU average GNI are eligible for funding from the Cohesion Fund, which serves the convergence objective under the 2007–13 programme. It finances trans-European transport networks, notably priority projects of European interest, other transport activities and environmental activities.
Budgetary execution in 2011 reached EUR 5.5 billion or 100 % with claims pending for EUR 1.3 billion due to lack of available credits at the end of the year. As concerns completion of the 2000-2006 Cohesion Fund, at the end of November 2011 some 439 projects were closed out of a total of 1 143.
Major overhaul for a busy road junction in Estonia
The large-scale reconstruction of a road junction in Tallinn is expected to smooth traffic flow considerably in the south-east of the Estonian capital. Focused on the Ülemiste junction, the work will include a handful of surrounding roads.
Current traffic lights are to be replaced by new roads, tunnels and viaducts. The project will benefit both drivers and pedestrians, while reducing the environmental impact of local traffic.
When completed, the project should significantly improve travel conditions in both directions of the Tartu highway (a TEN-T road). This will speed up access to this road and Tallinn airport, while smoothing the flow of traffic between the city’s eastern and western districts.
Less fuel will be burnt in local traffic jams, reducing road users’ costs and related environmental harm. The project will also make this road section safer, especially for pedestrians. There are plans for further road improvements in and around the junction, spread over two more phases.
Project duration: 1.12.2008–31.12.2013
Cohesion Fund contribution: EUR 67 930 270
Payments in 2011: EUR 11 786 037
The ERDF co-finances infrastructure, productive investment and regional and local development.
It saw record amounts of payments in 2011. At EUR 24.3 billion, they exceeded the previous high of EUR 20.3 billion in 2010, confirming that cohesion policy was advancing in the Member States.
At the end of December, the execution rate of payments for the whole programming period 2007–13 for the ERDF was 34.3 %.
Cornwall — Next Generation broadband
The ‘Next Generation’ broadband project aims to transform Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly in the United Kingdom into one of Europe’s best-connected regions and to provide a platform for the region’s economic transformation to a more knowledgebased, high-value-added and low-carbon economy. The project will deploy superfast fibre-based connections to 86 % of all business premises in the region. An estimated 10 000 of Cornwall’s 25 000 businesses are expected to benefit from the new network. They include as many as 2 400 high-growth, high-value businesses that will be priority targets for connection and higher-speed solutions.
Results at end of 2011:
- 31 exchanges and 217 cabinets enabled to date;
- 500 connections now live, with a strong pipeline of orders pending;
- average take-up of about 15 % in the pilot areas, with projected take-up currently expected to be 25 % after 18 months of availability;
- 15 service providers now with connected customers, which exceeds the target for the whole programme.
Project duration: July 2010 to December 2014
ERDF contribution: EUR 59 033 773
ERDF payments in 2011: GBP 3 986 707
The ESF supports employment opportunities by focusing on labour mobility and workers’ adaptation to industrial changes.
Entry to the world of work
The ‘Come in’ project in the German city of Hamburg aims to help young people with their entry into the world of work. It is aimed primarily at persons under the age of 26 who have difficulty in finding a job or training position. This could be due not just to poor performance in school, but also to family problems, drug abuse, debt, a police record or even a lack of social skills.
The project’s mission is to lead young people into vocational training or a job at the end of the support phase and finally open up new vistas for the participants, who generally attend the initiative for around 6 months.
Project duration: March 2009 to December 2013
ESF contribution: EUR 5 854 483
Participants: 652 (until April 2012)