The European Commission aims to increase the European Regional Development Fund (EDRF) funding rate to support the growth and competitiveness of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), in particular through digitisation, innovation, skills and industrial transition, European Commissioner for Regional Policy Corina Cretu said on Thursday in response to a question from European Parliament Vice-President Dimitris Papadimoulis.
For more focused used of the restricted funds available, she added, the Commission has proposed that support for productive investments be given only to SMEs, except where investments in larger enterprises involve cooperation with SMEs for research and innovation activities.
According to Cretu, “the leverage effect of ERDF funding is expected to further increase the use of financial instruments, a key mechanism for delivering revenue-generating or cost-saving investments. SMEs will be able to benefit from loans, from equity or quasi-equity investments or from guarantees under each policy objective. SMEs conducting research and innovation will also have funding opportunities under the next framework programme for research and innovation (Horizon Europe). The Commission has also proposed the creation of a new fund, InvestEU, which will now focus on centrally managed financial instruments.”
Also, the Commission’s proposals for the regulation on common provisions laying down the rules for the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), the Cohesion Fund, the European Social Fund +, the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund, the Asylum and Migration Fund Integration, the Internal Security Fund and the Instrument for Border and Visa Management contain eighty major simplifications that are expected to lead to a 20-25 pct reduction in the administrative costs associated with cohesion policy, the management and control system. Small and medium-sized enterprises will also benefit from this reduction in administrative burdens.