FIEC welcomes development fund expansion

By Helen Wright30 May 2012

The European Construction Industry Federation (FIEC) said it supported a proposal to increase the scope of European Regional Development Fund programmes (ERDF), claiming it has "huge potential."

Earlier this month, the European Parliament's ERDF rapporteur, Jan Olbrycht, sent a draft report on the future of the ERDF to members of the Committee on Regional Development that proposed increasing the flexibility of the fund.

Mr Olbrycht suggested adding a fourth area for priority funding - information and communication technologies.

He also proposed expanding the types of investments eligible for ERDF support to include large businesses, which are excluded by the European Commission. This would also make ERDF investments in transport, environment and telecommunication infrastructure possible in the more developed regions (also currently banned by the Commission proposal).

The report also recommended lowering the percentage of funds that have to be invested in the four priority areas from 80% to 70% in more developed regions, and from 50% to 40% in less developed regions.

FIEC welcomed the amendments proposed in the draft report, claiming the future ERDF could provide more substantial financing for energy efficiency and infrastructure projects.

Jacques Huillard, FIEC economic and legal vice president said, "Demanding 80% of the resources focused on three thematic objectives would excessively limit the possibility of Members States and regions to adapt their programmes to specific territorial needs.

"This could actually ensure more flexibility and ensure funding gets to those viable projects quickly."

FIEC also welcomed the inclusion of energy networks (including construction and modernisation of transmission and distribution networks) in the ERDF low-carbon economy thematic objective, as well as the addition of upgrades to the Trans-European Transport Network under the ERDF sustainable transport investment priority.

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