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IP/03/1277

Brussels, 22 September 2003

EU Cohesion Policy in Malta: negotiations of the Single Programming Document start today in Valetta

The European Commission today announced the launching of the first round of negotiations with Malta on future Structural Funds assistance. Negotiations start today in Valetta. They will aim at reaching an agreement on the Single Programming Document (SPD), the document containing the strategy and priorities for action under Objective 1 of the Structural Funds for the years 2004 to 2006. In a letter addressed to Mr Joseph R. Grima, Permanent Secretary to the Office of the Prime Minister, responsible for the Regional Policy Directorate, Michel Barnier, Commissioner responsible for regional policy, set out the main lines of the Commission position on the draft Single Programming Document submitted by Malta.

In his letter Michel Barnier wrote: “The draft Single Programming Document represents a good basis for the negotiations that lie ahead. It is very important that its implementation is a success. This not only because of the country's evident needs, which is the most important consideration, but also because its success would demonstrate the added value of the European Union's interventions. It is very important that we reach an early agreement in order to facilitate the implementation of the activities as soon as possible, given that expenditure under this programme may be eligible from 1 January 2004."

More than € 87 million for the promotion of environmental sustainability, competitiveness and social and economic growth.

On the basis of the decisions of the Copenhagen European Council last December, about € 65 million will be allocated to Malta under the EU Structural Funds and some €22 million under the Cohesion Fund.

Objective 1 of the Structural Funds is devoted to promoting the development and structural adjustment of regions whose development is lagging behind. The Single Programming Document for Malta will mainly aim at strengthening the competitiveness and sustainable development of the Maltese economy in order to better equip the country to face the imminent economic and social challenges whilst maintaining a sustainable use of the environment. A special effort will also be made to deal with the specific problems of the island of Gozo. In addition, the Cohesion Fund will co-finance major transport and environmental infrastructure projects.

Malta as a whole is eligible under Objective 1 of the Structural Funds for the period 2004-06. The entire territory of the country is also eligible for support from the Cohesion Fund.

Background

The Structural Funds comprise four individual Funds: The European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), the European Social Fund (ESF), the European Agricultural Guidance and Guarantee Fund (EAGGF), Guidance Section, and the Financial Instrument for Fisheries Guidance (FIFG). All of them should contribute to the financing of the Single Programming Document (SPD) in Malta. In addition, the Cohesion Fund will support projects in the fields of environment and transport infrastructure projects of common interest (trans-European networks).

The SPD describes the socio-economic context of the country, defines and justifies the strategy, priorities and objectives to be achieved and outlines the system for the management, monitoring, evaluation, financial management and control of the programmes.

During the negotiations, the Commission will seek to ensure a high level of coherence and co-ordination between the priorities, taking into account absorption capacity in the various areas concerned. Clarification will also be sought on the delivery structure for the programmes as a whole and on the individual measures.

For more information, please consult following website:

http://ec.europa.eu/regional_policy/index_en.htm


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