The EU has a massive budget of over € 864 billion allocated to the seven year period between 2007 and 2013. Of these funds, a staggering € 347 billion have been allocated to EU Cohesion Policy, which together with € 96 billion of assistance under Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) forms the bulk of EU’s expenditure.
Malta has been allocated € 855 million of Community funding in the form of Structural and Cohesion Funds. Almost 33% of these funds administered through two Operational Programmes have been allocated to environment and energy-related projects and aid schemes. Furthermore, Malta has been allocated € 76.6 million under the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development, administered through the Rural Development Programme, which offers a number of opportunities for financing of environmental projects linked to agriculture and rural development.
Apart from these funds, the EU also provides direct grants to support environmental projects in its Member States and in third countries, including projects for institutional capacity building, environmental-related research, nature protection, heritage conservation and environmental awareness raising.
Every programme has its own regulations but as a general rule each programme provides funding support to achieve specific objectives, normally linked to a policy. These funds are available, subject to individual programme rules, for all types of organisations including private companies, public bodies, Universities and NGOs.
International bodies, such as the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and its funding arm – the Global Environmental Facility (GEF) are also providing substantial funds for environmental development to assist countries in achieving targets stipulated under various international conventions.
European and international financial institutions, such as the European Investment Bank (EIB), European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), International Finance Corporation (IFC) and the World Bank also provide support for implementation of environmental policy worldwide through their lending and venture capital operations.
Below is a brief description of some of the main international funding programmes that are currently available to Malta and that could be tapped for environmental projects.
The European Regional Development (ERDF), the European Social Fund (ESF) and the Cohesion Fund are the main funding instruments of the EU Cohesion Policy for 2007-2013. Assistance channeled under these funds is inextricably linked to EU’s Lisbon Strategy, which aims to position the EU as “the most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy in the world”.
Assistance under these funds is divided into three “objectives”: “Convergence”, “Regional competitiveness and employment”, and "European territorial cooperation”. Environmental protection is one of the funding priorities amongst research, innovation, risk prevention and investments in infrastructure.
In Malta, Cohesion Policy funds are managed by the Planning and Priorities Coordination Division (PPCD) within the Office of the Prime Minister. The priorities of how these funds are to be spent are described in the National Strategic Reference Framework document and in the two Operational Programmes, all of which are available on the PPCD’s website.
The EU has a whole “family” of instruments that aim to encourage cooperation and exchange of knowledge and best practice across Member States and regions. These programmes are funded by the ERDF. The following Territorial Co-operation Programmes are open to Malta:
Malta is also participating in the European Neighbourhood Partnership Instrument (ENPI) programme, which allows EU’s neighbouring states to participate in territorial cooperation projects alongside EU member states.
The LIFEplus 2007-2013 programme is EU’s main financial instrument for the Environment. The LIFE programme is made up of three components:
1. LIFE Nature & Biodiversity: This component continues and extends the former LIFE-Nature programme. It will co-finance best practice or demonstration projects that contribute to the implementation of the Birds and Habitats Directives. In addition it will co-finance innovative or demonstration projects that contribute to the implementation of the objectives of Commission Communication (COM (2006) 216 final) "Halting the loss of biodiversity by 2010 – and beyond". At least 50% of the LIFE budget for project co-financing must be dedicated to LIFE Nature and Biodiversity projects.
2. LIFE Environment Policy & Governance: This component continues and extends the former LIFE-Environment strand. It will co-finance projects that contribute to the implementation of Community environmental policy, the development of innovative policy approaches, technologies, methods and instruments, the knowledge base as regards environment policy and legislation, and the monitoring of environmental pressures (including the long-term monitoring of forests and environmental interactions).
3. LIFE Information & Communication: This new component will co-finance projects that implement communication and awareness raising campaigns on environmental, nature protection or biodiversity conservation issues, as well as projects related to forest fire prevention (awareness raising, special training). The maximum co-financing rate will be 50%.
The National Focal Point for these programmes is the Office of the Prime Minister. More information on the LIFEplus programme may be obtained from the links above and from http://www.lifeplus.gov.mt/ and http://ec.europa.eu/environment/life/.
7th Framework Programme (FP7)
FP7 is the EU’s main instrument for funding research in Europe from 2007 till 2013. The broad objectives of FP7 have been grouped into four categories: Cooperation, Ideas, People and Capacities. The Cooperation category consists of 10 different thematic research areas, one of them being the Environment. For each type of objective, there is a specific programme corresponding to the main areas of EU research policy. All specific programmes work together to promote and encourage the creation of European poles of scientific excellence.
The National Contact Point for the FP7 programme is the Malta Council for Science and Technology (MCST). More information may also be obtained from the FP7 Cordis website http://cordis.europa.eu/fp7/home_en.html.
Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme (CIP)
The Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme (CIP) aims to encourage the competitiveness of European enterprises. With small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) as its main target, the programme will support innovation activities (including eco-innovation), provide better access to finance and deliver business support services in the regions. It will encourage a better take-up and use of information and communications technologies (ICT) and help to develop the information society. It will also promote the increased use of renewable energies and energy efficiency. The programme will run from 2007 to 2013.
The CIP is divided into three operational programmes:
The National Contact Point for the CIP programme is the Malta Investment Management Co. Ltd. (MIMCOL). More information may also be obtained from the EU CIP website http://ec.europa.eu/cip/index_en.htm.
European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD)
This is an instrument that supports the implementation of EU Common Agricultural and Rural Development Policy. This fund finances measures to improve the competitiveness of agriculture and forestry, as well as measures that enhance the environment and rural land management, quality of life and diversification of the rural economy. The Rural Development Programme, which specifies the priorities for EAFRD investments in Malta, offers a number of opportunities for financing of environmental projects linked to agriculture and rural development. The Programme is managed by the Ministry for Resources and Rural Affairs.
Integrated Action Programme for Life Long Learning (LLP)
The LLP programme groups together all instruments related to the promotion of education and life long learning objectives. Amongst other, the programme may be used to support environmental education and training-related projects. In Malta, the programme is represented by the European Union Programmes Agency (EUPA).
Financial engineering instruments (JASPERS, JEREMIE, JESSICA and JASMINE)
JASPERS involves a partnership between the EU Commission (Regional Policy DG), the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD). JASPERS offers technical assistance to the beneficiary Member States at no cost to them. The main objective of JASPERS is to assist the Member States in the complex task of preparing quality projects so that they can be approved more quickly for EU support by the services of the Commission. The technical assistance is offered from the early stages of project development. JASPERS will provide comprehensive assistance for all stages of the project cycle from the initial identification of a project through to the Commission decision to grant assistance. JASPERS focuses its action on large projects supported by the EU funds (costing more than €25 million for environment projects and more than €50 million in transport and other fields).
JEREMIE, Joint European Resources for Micro to medium Enterprises, is an initiative of the Commission together with the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the European Investment Fund (EIF) in order to promote increased access to finance for the development of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises in the regions of the EU.
JESSICA, Joint European Support for Sustainable Investment in City Areas, is an initiative of the Commission in cooperation with the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the Council of Europe Development Bank (CEB), in order to promote sustainable investment, and growth and jobs, in Europe’s urban areas.