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EU Cohesion Policy 2014-2020 wants to target EU investments on four key areas for economic growth and job creation

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  • Research and Innovation
  • Information and Communication Technologies (ICT)
  • Enhancing the competitiveness of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)
  • Supporting the shift towards a low-carbon economy

Cohesion Policy 2014-2020 will concentrate funding on research and innovation:

  • Supporting innovation actors (especially research centres and SMEs) which are directly engaged in developing innovative solutions and the economic exploitation of new ideas through:
    • advisory and support services;
    • direct investments; and
    • financial instruments that help access private sources of finance.
  • Investing in infrastructure, equipment, pilot product lines, and advanced manufacturing necessary for applied research and innovation activities, including technologies that create capabilities for further innovation in a range of other sectors.
  • Facilitating the cooperation, networking activities and partnerships among different innovation actors working in the same field – universities, research and technological centres, SMEs and large firms – to achieve synergies and technology transfers.
  • Investing in innovation by SMEs in order to increase their competitiveness.
  • Focussing on the training of researchers, development of post-graduate courses of study and entrepreneurial skills.

Cohesion Policy 2014-2020 will support EU ICT goals by:

  • Investing in ICT infrastructure in all regions, especially in remote and rural areas and in less developed regions.
  • Increasing access to high-speed broadband (especially the so-called “Next Generation Networks”) to boost the productivity of companies and allow individuals in remote regions to work from home or to benefit from e-health solutions.
  • Investing in developing and upgrading ICT tools, such as e-infrastructures for research and innovation, cloud computing, information security and internet safety.
  • Continuing the shift towards the innovative uses of ICT by firms, citizens and public administrations, such as the electronic provision of health services (eHealth), public sector procedures (eGovernment), SMEs (eLearning, eBusiness etc.),
  •        coordinating the efficient use of resources in urban areas (Smart Cities) and preserving cultural heritage through digitalisation.
  • Strengthening digital literacy, e-learning, e-inclusion, e-skills and related entrepreneurial skills.

Cohesion Policy 2014-2020 will support SMEs by:

Cohesion Policy Funds will promote entrepreneurship and support SME’s growth by tackling the problems which hinder their development. The objective under the reformed Cohesion Policy will be to double the current support to around €140 billion for 2014-2020, partly through the increased use of financial instruments. This increased investment will help SMEs to:
  • Access finance with grants, loans, loan guarantees, venture capital, etc.
  • Tap into business know-how and advice, information and networking opportunities including
  • cross-border partnerships.
  • Improve their access to global markets and mitigate entrepreneurial risk.
  • Exploit new sources of growth such as green economy, sustainable tourism, health & social services, including the “silver economy” and cultural and creative industries.
  • Train entrepreneurs, managers and workers to be adaptable to new challenges.
  • Invest in human capital and in organisations providing practice-oriented vocational education and training.
  • Forge valuable links with research centres and universities to promote innovation.
New simplified and common rules and measures make it easier for SMEs to access Cohesion Policy Funds in 2014-2020. These include:
  • online reporting of how the Funds are used;
  • clearer eligibility rules;
  • more targeted and less frequent audits for small operations; and
  • wider scope and simplification of the set-up and access to financial instruments.

Cohesion Policy 2014-2020 will support the shift towards a low-carbon economy in all sectors by:

A minimum share of each region’s ERDF allocation will be invested in measures supporting the shift to a low-carbon economy:

  • 20% in more developed regions;
  • 15% in transition regions; and
  • 12% in less-developed regions.

This will ensure a minimum investment of at least €23 billion for 2014-2020 from the ERDF, while further investments through the Cohesion Fund will further support the shift towards a low-carbon economy.

Investments from the ERDF and the Cohesion Fund will include the following areas:

Increasing the use of renewable energy:

  • Investing in the production and distribution of energy derived from renewable sources.
  • Supporting projects to build awareness and increase the use of renewable energy in both the public and private sectors.

Decreasing energy use:

  • Funding projects to enhance energy efficiency and smart energy management in public infrastructures, including public buildings, in the housing sector and in the context of industrial production to boost competitiveness, especially in SMEs.
  • Reducing emissions from transport by supporting the development of new technologies and promoting sustainable multi-modal urban mobility including public transport, cycling and walking.

Promoting smart energy systems:

  • Investing in smart grids for electricity distribution to enable improved energy efficiency.
  • Integrating increased amounts of renewable energy.

Encouraging an integrated approach to policy-making and implementation:

  • Developing integrated low-carbon strategies, in particular for urban areas, which can encompass street lighting, sustainable multi-modal urban mobility and smart electrical grids.
  • Promoting research and innovation in low-carbon technologies.

The European Social Fund will also support measures to reinforce the education and training systems necessary for adapting the skills and qualifications of the labour force to work in sectors related to energy and environment.

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