Belgium will receive almost €3 billion in Cohesion Policy funding in 2021-2027 to accelerate its green and digital transition and support the development of a competitive, innovative and inclusive economy.
The strategy and details of these investments are set out in the Partnership Agreement adopted between Belgium and the Commission.
The Partnership Agreement with Belgium covers Cohesion Policy funding (ERDF, ESF+), the EMFAF, and the JTF through 9 programmes: 3 ERDF (regional), 1 EMFAF (national) and 5 ESF+ (1 national and 4 regional). The Partnership Agreement paves the way for the implementation of these investments on the ground.
Under Cohesion Policy, and in cooperation with the Commission, each Member State prepares a Partnership Agreement, a strategic document for programming investments from the Cohesion Policy funds and the EMFAF during the Multiannual Financial Framework. It focuses on EU priorities, laying down the strategy and investment priorities identified by the Member State, and it presents a list of national and regional programmes for implementation on the ground, including the indicative annual financial allocation for each programme.
The Partnership Agreement with Belgium is the 26th to be adopted following those of Greece, Germany, Austria, Czechia, Lithuania, Finland, Denmark, France, Sweden, the Netherlands, Poland, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Portugal, Estonia, Slovakia, Italy, Romania, Croatia, Slovenia, Malta, Ireland, Latvia, Spain, and Luxembourg.
Under the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), nearly €500 million will boost investments in research, innovation and digitalisation. This amount includes support for the transfer of advanced technologies to increase the competitiveness of small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs), and investments in the digitalisation of SMEs and public services.
Moreover, almost €400 million from the ERDF will be invested in greenhouse gas emission reduction, energy efficiency and renewable energy. This includes investments in sustainable urban development, notably in sustainable mobility and in energy renovation of public buildings.
Together with the ERDF, €183 million from the Just Transition Fund(JTF) will be invested in developing a low-carbon, circular and energy-efficient economy, overall ensuring economic diversification and a fair climate transition in the country.
A total of more than €1.3 billion under the European Social Fund Plus(ESF+) will be invested in social cohesion and employment.
Nearly €500 million will go towards up- and re-skilling measures of unemployed and workers to help them acquire new skills to find quality jobs. The funding will also support reforms in employment, education and training policies, contributing to better social inclusion and addressing skills mismatches and labour shortages in the job market.
Moreover, about €300 million are allocated to employment support, much of it focusing on young people. This will support them in successfully applying for jobs, for instance through advice services on career planning and traineeships.
Around €400 million will be invested in active social inclusion for vulnerable groups, for instance people with a migrant background, low-skilled workers, long-term unemployed and those who are currently neither in a job, nor seeking employment. The Fund will also combat child poverty, by supporting community-based care services.
Finally, an additional €50 million are available for food and material aid for the most deprived people, mainly through food banks.
€40.3 million under the European Maritime, Fisheries and Aquaculture Fund (EMFAF) will support the fishery sector via investments leading to increased sustainable fisheries.
These investments will focus mainly on complying with the landing obligation and avoiding discards at sea as well as go to improvement of safety, health, hygiene and working conditions on fishing vessels.
Priority will also focus on innovation (e.g., e-identification of non-commercial and endangered species, new digital data collection tools via image analysis for recognition/identification of species) and the sustainable and future-oriented management of the fish stocks, notably by supporting fisheries control and scientific data collection.
The Fund will also support energy efficiency and decarbonisation in fisheries, aquaculture and processing. As for aquaculture, diversification of the farmed aquaculture species will be promoted, which should also have impact on the set-up of the fish processing.
Finally, in the area of sustainable blue economy, Belgium will focus on the development of its coastal area through a Local Action Group.
Source : European Commission, perscorner, 14 décember 2022