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European Commission

Press release

Brussels, 29 October 2014

European Commission adopts ‘Partnership Agreement’ with Belgium on using EU Structural and Investment Funds for growth and jobs in 2014-2020

The European Commission has adopted a "Partnership Agreement" with Belgium setting down the strategy for the optimal use of European Structural and Investment Funds throughout the country. Today’s agreement paves the way for investing €2.28 billion in total Cohesion Policy funding over 2014-2020 (current prices, including European Territorial Cooperation funding and the allocation for the Youth Employment Initiative. Belgium also receives €551.8 million for rural development and €41.7 million for fisheries and the maritime sector.

The EU investments will help tackle unemployment and boost competitiveness and economic growth through support to innovation, training and education in cities, towns and rural areas. They will also promote entrepreneurship, fight social exclusion and help to develop an environmentally friendly and a resource-efficient economy.

The European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) are:

• The European Regional Development Fund

• The European Maritime and Fisheries Fund

• The European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development

Commenting on the adoption, Commissioner for Regional Policy, Johannes Hahn said:

"Today we have adopted a vital investment plan that sets Belgium on the path to jobs and growth for the next 10 years. This Partnership Agreement reflects the European Commission and Belgium's joint determination to make the most efficient use of EU funding. Our investments must be strategic, according to the new Cohesion Policy- focusing on the real economy, on sustainable growth and investing in people. But we must focus on quality not speed in the coming months, as we plan the investments from the European Structural and Investment Funds in 2014-2020. Commitment is needed on all sides to ensure good quality programmes are put in place.”

Commissioner Hahn added: "This investment strategy builds on the important contribution Belgium is already making to help the EU meet its goals of achieving sustainable smart and inclusive growth. Belgium now has a firm base in this Partnership Agreement that covers all Structural and Investment Funds and gives strategic direction to future programmes that will enhance innovation, transform Belgian SMEs into models of growth, and secure Belgium's leading role in promoting sustainable technologies and green growth. The ESI Funds are helping Belgium's regions and cities to face these challenges."

Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion, László Andor said:

"I congratulate Belgium for finalising its Partnership Agreement through close collaboration with the Commission. Belgium will draw over € 1 billion from the European Social Fund (ESF) in 2014-20 in order to make progress towards the Europe 2020 employment and social inclusion targets. ESF funding will help to strengthen the growth potential of each Region and Community by addressing their specific human capital needs, focusing on supporting job creation, entrepreneurship, social inclusion, education and vocational training. The ESF and the additional 42.4 million from the Youth Employment Initiative will also help to implement the Youth Guarantee in Belgium, in particular through education and training, career guidance, traineeships and other professional experience."

Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Dacian Cioloş said:

"Rural Development is a vital pillar of our Common Agricultural Policy, addressing elements relating to economic, environmental and social issues in rural areas, but in a way which allows Member States or regions to design programmes suitable for their own specific situations and priorities. The newly adopted Belgian Partnership Agreement represents a real step forward, as it successfully addresses rural areas' specific needs and indicates how to achieve the objectives set. I welcome the fact that the Belgian regions have chosen to focus on enhancing the competitiveness and sustainability of the agricultural sector in all its aspects, in which innovation as well as an emphasis on environmental and climate benefits are constant factors. Special attention is also given to generation renewal and enhancing the quality and vitality of the countryside. For Belgium the concept of Partnership Agreements is very important to enable the Flemish and Walloon authorities, when drafting their Rural Development programmes, to have an approach which is coherent with plans that they are drafting in other EU structural measures and to complement such schemes with greater efficiency and better value in the use of EU taxpayers’ money."

Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Maria Damanaki said:

"The European Maritime and Fisheries Fund is about supporting the people and companies dependent on fisheries and aquaculture whilst ensuring that the negative impact on the marine environment is reduced. The Commission welcomes the Belgian approach which is clearly focused on sustainability and which can unlock the sort of growth and jobs which Europe needs and which the EU is committed to making a reality. We will not prescribe how every single cent should be spent; but let those who know their craft, industry, and regions best to work towards a sustainable future."

More information:

MEMO on Partnership Agreements and Operational Programmes

Cohesion Policy and Belgium

European Commission-Belgium Partnership Agreement and Summary

Contacts : Shirin Wheeler (+32 460 76 65 65) – Jonathan Todd (+32 4989 94107)

Roger Waite (+32 4989 61404) – Helene Banner (+32 4607 52407)

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