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Evaluation 2004-06 and Recommendation of Structural Funds for 2007-13
December 2006, and 2009
and Recommendation of Structural Funds for Renewable Energy for
the period of 2007-2013
Structural funds are by far the biggest means of distributing EU funding - one third of the whole EU budget is allocated for Structural Funds. New EU member states from the CEE countries began receiving and using the first EU funds during the period 2000-2003. These so called pre accession funds (ISPA, SAPARD and PHARE) were followed by the 'normal' structural, cohesion and rural development funds after their accession to the EU in 2004. Approximately 30 billion EUR in the first round is available for the new EU accession countries in 2004-2006. Half of this has been allocated to Poland. The allocation is partly based on population and need. The member states distribute the funding to eligible projects through a government department, ministries or committees at national and local level, usually a mixture of the above. All new EU countries are now preparing for the next funding period, 2007-2013.
The experience so far (the end of 2006) shows no big success from the point of view of funding of sustainable energy projects. Distribution of funds is usually done through the Operating Programs (OP). Due to the fact that national or regional authorities are responsible for the details of programs there is a lot of differences between new EU member states policies in terms of who is eligible and how the funds can be used. For example in Slovakia the support was given preferably to the investment in the industrial sector oriented on energy efficiency. Main beneficiaries were private companies which received the support also from other state support schemes for the sustainable energy, whereas the communities or public institutions are not eligible for this additional support. On the other hand OPs in Czech republic, Poland or Lithuania are oriented on small and medium enterprises, communal and public sector.
· OP industry and
enterprises where final beneficiaries were small and medium enterprises
in processing industry. Projects oriented at energy plantation or
alternative fuels for transportation were not eligible. Additionally
the larger projects of more than 1 million EUR were also not supported.
According to the list of supported projects ca 6,6 mil. EUR (179 million CZK) were approved for the renewable energy oriented projects. It does not seem to be big share out of 454.333 million EUR allocated for all OP in Czech republic.
budget line of about 23 Million EUR for the industry and municipalities
was shared in two major program line:
The call for private people was very late and it was uncertain for very long time. The online database for information has been made but has been developed very slowly. It is still not filled up with concrete project information, and the planned English version is still not available at the end of 2006.
Eligible projects included also intelligent utilization of energy in renovated buildings, energy auditing of buildings and infrastructure, regional co-operation, research and development, education, consulting and processing of agricultural products for energy utilization. Among beneficiaries were state institutions, communities, public entities, small and medium enterprises and farmers.
The Ministry of Economy distributed the funds for the renewables through their Operational program : Competition and economical growth. Measure 2.1 - Increasing of energy efficiency on supply and demand side and implementation of progressive technologies in energy production. Link to official web page (in Slovak): http://www.opkahr.sk/files/articles/file/zoznam_zazmluvnenych_projektov_2_1_sp.pdf
2008, EU funds used for sustainable energy projects were distributed
mainly through two operating programs.
From the database of 2008 supported projects it can be seen that huge amount of funds have been used for fossil fuels (co-firing of coal and biomass, natural gas boilers etc.). All these projects have been approved because of reduction of emissions. Interestingly by far the project with the largest support was oriented on co-firing of coal and biomass at Zvolenska teplarenska, a.s. (14 million EUR). Due to the lack of technical data (share of biomass?) it can be hardly seen as the example of sustainable energy project.
have been 31 projects supported from the OP infrastructure. Total
amount of funds allocated was 1,366,793,543 SKK (40,199 mil. EUR).
They have been distributed in the following way :
There were another 42 projects supported from OP industry and services. Total amount of funds were 758,525,000 SKK (22,309 million EUR). Here 11 biomass oriented projects received total of 380,271,000 SKK (50%), six hydro power projects received 159 766 000 SKK (21 %), five project on geothermal energy received 57,911,000 SKK (8 %) and the rest was used for energy efficiency (savings) and natural gas projects.
More than 90 % of all funds went to private companies and the rest was used by the municipalities.
It is clear by now that NGO involvement could help in securing of transparent and democratic decision-making process, but it was not the case in new EU member states so far.
Recommendations for 2007-2013
Support also must be linked to the commitment of beneficiary to make open the basic data of the project. This has been requested by several NGOs so far including Transparency International. Information about the projects, which were approved, and information about the reasons why other projects were refused is still kept secret.
In the next programming period (2007-2013), the European Commission is planning to somewhat loosen its control of the funds management and shift more responsibility to the member states and regions. Therefore there is a stronger need for partnership with NGOs who can play an important role in monitoring of correct use of EU funds by each Member State. It is clear that without opening the EU funds to more public scrutiny and participation, control of them may become too concentrated in the hands of the national managing authorities. Experience shows that beneficiary countries have not always been able to develop transparent mechanisms for the management of the funds and there have even been cases of misuse and corruption.
In order to improve involvement of NGOs in the whole process the European Parliament and Member States in the European Council should put more emphasis on provisions about partnership in the new regulations on the EU funds. EU should define clear minimum standards for participation. According to the draft report of the European Parliament which "rejects any weakening of the principle of partnership as envisaged in the original proposal and calls for the maintenance of the list of appropriate bodies which also should include environmental NGOs and bodies representing the disabled". It would be appropriate if NGOs should be explicitly mentioned in the partnership clause and their involvement in the partnership structures should become compulsory for all Member States. Additionally to this the new regulation should also define a clear minimum framework for participation, e.g. regarding access to timely and sufficient information, rules on commenting process, etc.
Taking into account the benefits of NGO involvement in the EU funds and the planned decentralization of SF management, NGO participation in the EU funds partnerships needs to be supported through training and capacity building. The European Commission should require MS to support NGOs involved in partnerships from the Technical Assistance budget or the Global Grants scheme or by setting up a special Operational Program for civil society. Alternatively, the Commission should consider creating a new European support fund for the capacity building of environmental NGOs under Article 43 of the new regulation for the EU funds.
to cope with the barriers, the member states should make more efforts