A historic and effective instrument of EU cohesion policy, the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) is back in service for 7 years after the agreement reached today between the Council and the European Parliament. Always at the disposal of its traditional local partners, the ERDF has been deeply reformed in order to help to introduce the environmental objectives of the Green Deal in EU territories. 30% of the funds will thus be intended to promote a clean and fair energy transition, the circular economy or adaptation to the needs of the climate. Infrastructure works will only be subsidised if they improve the carbon footprint. Another priority of Renew was to support the competitiveness, research and innovation capacities of SMEs, with special attention given to rural areas, in terms of training and connectivity, so that all European regions could reap the benefices of the digital economy. A new system will grant specific support to areas inhabited by less than 12.5 inhabitants / km2 or facing demographic decline. However, the ERDF remains attentive to sociological changes and the appropriations intended for city policy will increase by 8% in order to finance sustainable urban development projects. Finally, the application of ERDF has been simplified in order, on the one hand, to respond to emergency situations, such as the current pandemic, by supporting sectors in crisis such as tourism and culture, and, on the other hand, to empower local authorities in the management funds, thanks to more flexible rules allowing a greater number of projects to be carried out and facilitating better absorption of funds. This new ERDF will enter into force as soon as an agreement is reached in the European Council on the 2021-2027 multiannual financial framework.
Susana SOLÍS PÉREZ (Cuidadanos, Spain), spokesperson for Renew Europe for the ERDF amid the Parliamentary Committee for Regional Policy (REGI), commented: “ERDF is the main instrument the EU has to reduce the disparities between European regions, support SMEs as the drivers of change and innovation, and create sustainable jobs. During the negotiations, my priority has been to provide maximum flexibility to regions and to simplify mechanisms in order to ensure that SMEs can benefit from this fund. We must now do everything in our power to make sure Member States use every euro available to help European families and businesses. ERDF will also help bring Europe closer to the citizens by promoting sustainable urban development projects as well as bringing innovation and digitalisation to rural areas which are facing demographic decline. The 5 political objectives established in ERDF are a clear reflection of European priorities and will help us evolve towards a greener and smarter Europe”.
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