European Structural & Investment Funds (ESIF)
One of the basic policies of the European Union that is based on the solidarity among the peoples of Europe, is the “Cohesion Policy”. The “Cohesion Policy” is the main investment policy of the European Union which seeks to support all regions of the Member States, create sustainable jobs, strengthen the competitiveness of enterprises, achieve sustainable development and improve the quality of life of citizens. At the same time, it aims to promote solidarity between the states and the citizens of Europe, especially as support is given to the less developed regions, seeking to normalize the social, economic and territorial disparities that exist.
European Union financial assistance in the implementation of the “Cohesion Policy” is provided to member states through the following three key Funds:
European Regional Development Fund
The ERDF seeks to strengthen economic and social cohesion in the European Union by correcting imbalances between regions. The Fund focuses its investments on several key priority areas for growth, such as research and innovation, the Digital Agenda, support for SMEs and the low carbon economy. Moreover, the ERDF also supports European Territorial Cooperation projects.
European Social Fund
The ESF invests in human resources and aims to improve opportunities for employment and education across the EU. At the same time, the ESF helps to ensure social cohesion by promoting social inclusion for vulnerable social groups in the population who are at risk of poverty and social exclusion.
The Cohesion Fund finances infrastructure projects in the fields of the environment, energy and transport, contributing to green and sustainable development, as well as to the connectivity between Member States.
The ERDF and the ESF are also referred to as Structural Funds.
Funds are allocated by Member State / Region on the basis of defined criteria for specific periods of time called Programming Periods and lasting seven years. The EU co-finances projects with a specific percentage of total public spending and the balance is paid out of national resources. The current Programming Period, with funds from the EU’s Structural and Investment Funds, covers the years 2014-2020.
Cyprus, like all member states, has drawn up strategic planning documents to make use of resources from these Funds, in line with the EU Regulations. In this context, Cyprus has drawn up the “Partnership Agreement” (PA) approved by the European Commission, which records the general development priorities of the country as they emerge from the analysis of development needs and prospects, as well as the strategic objectives for the utilization of ESIF. The PA aims to ensure synergy and coordination between all Funds in order to achieve meaningful results that contribute to the achievement of the objectives of the Europe 2020 Strategy. The strategic objective of the PA is to restructure the Cypriot economy, maintain and create new jobs and ensure social cohesion.
The utilization of resources through the Cohesion Policy Funds is further specified through the following Operational Programs:
- “Competitiveness and Sustainable Development”
- “Employment, Human Capital and Social Cohesion”
The Operational Programs are multiannual programming documents which set out specific priorities and indicative categories of interventions that define and detail in more detail the objectives, strategy and categories of projects that can be funded.
Research and Ιnnovation in Cyprus are funded for the current programming period (2014 – 2020) under the “Thematic Objective 1: Research and Innovation” of “Priority Axis 1: Enhancing the Competitiveness of the Economy”, of the Operational Programme “Competitiveness and Sustainable Development” with funding exceeding 74 million Euros. This funding mainly concerns the implementation of research projects that aim to: (a) smart development, with focus on selected priority sectors, through supporting the effectiveness of the Research, Technological Development and Innovation system in Cyprus, its association with the productive base of the Economy and the reinforcement of its links and interoperability between its components or (b) ensure the sustainability and dynamics of the Research, Technological Development and Innovation system and to reinforce its future perspectives, focusing on excellence and on the support of human resources, especially those of the younger generation. Moreover, to a lower extent, this funding supports the operational framework of the Research, Technological Development and Innovation system and the production of added value resulting from research and innovation activities, through the development of supportive instruments and pilot measures and the encouragement for dissemination and exploitation of research results. A total of 52,9 million Euros is expected to be covered by the ERDF.
The Research Promotion Foundation also implements a €2 million Technical Assistance project co-financed by the ERDF to smoothly and timely implement the Programmes to be announced within the Programming Period 2014-2020. This project is expected to cover part of the salaries of the Foundations’ employees involved in these Programmes.
During the previous programming period (2007 – 2013) Research and Innovation in Cyprus had also been co-funded by the ERDF and the Republic of Cyprus. The amount received by the ERDF was 50 million Euros for research projects and 2 million Euros for Technical Assistance.
For more information on ESIF, please visit the EU’s Structural and Investment Funds website in 2014-2020 by clicking here.