Corina Crețu, Commissioner for Regional Policy today announced the adoption of strategic programmes that pave the way for EU investments in hundreds of cross-border and regional projects in Germany, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.
The first of Europe's cross-border cooperation or INTERREG programmes – worth some €444 million, between Germany and the Netherlands will mainly invest in making the region's SMEs more innovative and helping create a greener economy in the Dutch-German border region. More generally it will help citizens and companies see the border as an opportunity instead of an obstacle.
The first of the UK's regional operational programmes unleashes an investment package worth €406 million and €1.8 billion respectively to East Wales and to West Wales and the Valleys. The investments, through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), will help drive research and innovation, boost the competitiveness and access to finance of small businesses, further develop energy efficiency and renewables, and support sustainable public transport systems, such as the Metro in the Cardiff Capital City Region.
These programmes are the concrete translations of the investment priorities that each Member State has chosen in the Partnership Agreements with the European Commission. The last of these strategic plans was adopted just this week with Ireland, paving the way for over €3.3 billion worth of investments in the real economy there. Each Member State has also set itself clear, transparent and measurable targets for achievement to ensure the optimal use of European Structural and Investment Funds across the EU.
Corina Crețu, Commissioner for Regional Policy, said: "These programmes embody the true spirit of the reformed Cohesion Policy. They are about improved and more efficient cooperation and partnership. The Germany-Netherlands programme goes well beyond our co-financing requirements with 50% match-funding from the regional partners to our ERDF. This is a 60% increase compared to the 2007-2013 period and shows the true added value of cooperation across borders".
She added: "I congratulate our Welsh partners in reaching this milestone in strategic investment planning. Wales is a model for the rest of Europe's regions in terms of 'partnership in action'. These vital investment programs will set Wales on the path to smart and green growth - connecting people, skills and jobs."
The European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) are:
- The European Regional Development Fund
- The European Social Fund
- The European Maritime and Fisheries Fund
- The European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development