Environment, energy and transport are three areas of special relevance to the workings of the EU’s internal market. Energy and transport both have considerable potential impacts on the environment. Moreover, transport enables the physical movement of goods and people across the Union, whereas energy can tilt production prices, thereby shifting competition dynamics within the Union’s internal market.
The European Commission provides funding to projects and initiatives that promote its policy priorities throughout the European Union and further afield. Funds targeting the Environment are made available by the European Commission through two different programmes, namely:
- the LIFE fund, the Eco-Innovation and Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme; and
- the operating grants to environmental non-governmental organisations (NGOs).
LIFE is the European Union’s financial instrument supporting environmental and nature conservation projects throughout the Union as well as in some candidate and neighbouring countries. Since 1992, LIFE has co-financed some 2,750 projects for a total of €1.35 billion. The general objective of LIFE is to contribute to the implementation, updating and development of EU environmental policy and legislation by co-financing pilot or demonstration projects with European added value. During the LIFE programming period 2007-2013, the European Commission has launched one call for LIFE+ project proposals per year. For projects to be eligible, they need to target one of the programme’s three components: LIFE+ Nature and Biodiversity, LIFE+ Environment Policy and Governance, and LIFE+ Information and Communication.
LIFE is open to public or private bodies, actors or institutions registered in the European Union. Project proposals can either be submitted by a single beneficiary or by a partnership which includes a coordinating beneficiary and one or several associated beneficiaries. They can be either national or transnational, but the actions must exclusively take place within the territory of the 27 Member States of the European Union. Following the annual call for proposals, applicants to the programme must submit their proposals to the competent national authority of the Member State in which the coordinating beneficiary is registered.
The Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme – Entrepreneurship and Innovation Programme supports projects in eco-innovation through three initiatives, namely:
- financial instruments;
- network of actors; and
- pilot and market replication projects.
The eco-innovation initiative bridges the gap between research and the market. It helps good ideas for innovative products, services and processes that protect the environment and become full-fledged commercial prospects, ready for use by business and industry. It helps participants overcome those barriers to further market penetration and turn these products and processes into Europe’s future eco-innovation successes. In doing so, the initiative not only helps the EU meet its environmental objectives but also boosts economic growth.
Eco-innovation is about reducing our environmental impact and making better use of resources. This means developing products, techniques, services and processes that reduce CO2 emissions, use resources efficiently, promote recycling and so on. There are five main strands to this initiative:
- Materials recycling and recycling processes;
- Sustainable building products;
- Food and drink sector products;
- Water efficiency, treatment and distribution; and
- Greening business.
The European Union is striving to maximise the impact of Eco-innovation and to make every Euro go as far as possible. The best Eco-innovation projects are those that can be replicated across the European Union. Eco-innovation projects are not research projects. The ideas must be developed, feasible and viable in the long-term to qualify for funding. Between 2008 and 2013, nearly €200 million have been made available to fund projects under the eco-innovation initiative. Projects are selected through annual calls for proposals. They receive grants covering up to 50% of the eligible project costs. The money can be used to fund actions including equipment and infrastructure as well as materials, processes, techniques and methods linked with the innovative action
European non-governmental organisations (NGOs) active in the field of the environment are important players in the development and the implementation of environmental policy. They are important channels of information on the concerns citizens have on the environment, and as such, play an important role in raising citizens’ awareness on specific environmental issues and policies. A number of grants are awarded each year to various NGOs to facilitate their work. Organisations that wish to apply for funding under this programme must be non-profit making and independent environmental non-governmental organisations. They must also be active at a European level (have activities and members in at least three EU Member States). National NGOs are not targeted by this programme.
The ERDF Innovation Actions Grant Scheme (Environment) is funded through the European Regional Development Fund. The objective of this scheme is to support innovation in Small and Medium-sized Enterprises through investments in environmentally friendly technologies.
An enterprise may seek part financing of investments in environmentally friendly and sustainable solutions that enable the enterprise to go beyond its legal obligations. Supported projects are expected to sustain long-term competitiveness and contribute to environmentally sustainable business activities by addressing water and air quality, waste streams, and resource utilisation.
An enterprise that completes an approved project will receive part-financing on cost incurred for:
- the attainment of recognised environmental certification, such as EMAS, ISO, Eco-Label and other standards recognised by the MSA; and
- the procurement of plant, machinery and equipment required to achieve better environmental performance.
In Malta, this scheme is managed through competitive calls issued through the Malta Enterprise. Further details may be found on the website www.20millionforindustry.com.
Europe’s energy infrastructure is, in a metaphorical sense, the central nervous system of the European economy. European Union energy policy goals, as well as the Europe 2020 economic aims, will not be achievable without a major shift in the way European infrastructure has developed and is being rolled out. Rebuilding the energy system for a low-carbon future is not just a task for the energy industry. Technological improvements, greater efficiencies, resilience to a changing climate and new flexibility will be necessary. This is not a task which a single Member State can achieve on its own. A European strategy, and funding, was (and still is) necessary.
In 2011, the Commission presented a comprehensive roadmap towards 2050. The roadmap presented energy mix scenarios, describing ways to achieve Europe’s long-term decarbonisation goal and the implications for energy policy decisions. This Communication identified the energy infrastructure map that will be needed to meet the 2020 energy objectives. The 2050 low carbon economy and energy roadmaps will further inform and guide EU energy infrastructure implementation by offering a long term vision.
Selection and implementation of energy projects for the current period (2007-2013) and the coming one (2014-2020) fall under the responsibilities of the national Member States’ authorities managing operational programmes co-financed by the Structural Funds or the Cohesion Fund. However, for the next programming period (2014-2020), the European Commission has also proposed a budget of up to €50 billion towards the ‘Connecting Europe Facility’ programme of which the main aim is to support the roll-out of high-performing, sustainable and joined-up trans-European networks in the fields of transport, energy, and broadband & digital services. Such projects are proposed by the Member States and approved by the European Commission directly.
The ERDF Energy Grant Scheme supports enterprises investing in energy saving measures and alternative energy sources.
For an application to be considered for co-funding under this scheme, the minimum project value (based on eligible expenses) must be at least Euro 25,000 and must not exceed Euro 200,000. The resultant minimum grant value per project is Euro 12,500. The projects supported within the scheme belong to two main typologies, which correspond to the strands of the scheme. A short description of each strand is provided below:
- Energy Saving Measures: investments for the implementation of energy saving solutions and lighting, such as the installation of intelligent lighting systems, solar heating, thermal insulation, building management systems and energy-saving lighting; and
- Alternative Energy Sources: investments in renewable energy solutions, such as the installation of energy generating solutions based on the use of solar power and wind power.
In Malta, this scheme is managed through competitive calls issued through Malta Enterprise. Further details may be found on the website www.20millionforindustry.com.
Transport infrastructure is fundamental for the smooth operation of the internal market, for the mobility of persons and goods and for the economic, social and territorial cohesion of the European Union. In order to establish a single, multimodal network that integrates land, sea and air transport networks throughout the European Union, the European policymakers decided to establish the trans-European transport network (TEN-T), allowing goods and people to circulate quickly and easily between Member States and assuring international connections.
Establishing an efficient trans-European transport network (TEN-T) has constituted a key element in the revamped Lisbon Strategy for competitiveness and employment in Europe and will play an equally central role in the attainment of the objectives of the Europe 2020 Strategy. The European Union is supporting the TEN-T implementation by several financial instruments – the TEN-T programme, the Cohesion Fund, the European Regional Development Fund and European Investment Bank’s loans and credit guarantees.
Selection and implementation of transport projects identified under the TEN-T programme for the current programming period (2007-2013) and the future one (2014-2020) fall under the responsibilities of the national authorities managing operational programmes co-financed by the Structural Funds or the Cohesion Fund.
Equinox aims to assist all those interested in developing projects or receiving financial support within any of the Environment, Energy and Transport strands. We can assist companies in understanding the objectives of the calls issued for by either any of the local funding national authorities such as Malta Enterprise or even calls issued directly by the European Commission such as the LIFE programme. Through our experienced consultants, we are in a position to give detailed information on what is needed to apply, what level of grant can be targeted and finally to move forward towards the submission of the project proposal.