November 28, 2011

'Creative Europe' plans

A proposed EUR1.8 billion fund to support the cultural and creative industries in Europe was announced on 23 November with the unveiling of the Commission's proposals for the new 'Creative Europe' programme for the period 2014-2020.

Intended to integrate the areas of focus of the longstanding MEDIA and CULTURE programmes, the new framework programme's concentration would be on targeting support to improve the prospects of artists, professionals and cultural organisations who are active in a sector which directly employs 8.5 million European citizens. This includes a strong emphasis on assistance in accessing new markets in Europe and beyond through training to strengthen capacity to work internationally (e.g. on language issues) or through direct support (e.g. with distribution of cultural works). Support for efforts to adapt to the digital era will
also be available.

The largest chunk of the fund- EUR900 million - is being provided to the cinema and audiovisual sector (including TV and video gaming) while almost EUR500 million is destined for cultural actions relating to music, publishing, performing arts, fine arts, heritage and other areas. In both cases this represents a sizeable increase on the current allocations to the MEDIA and CULTURE programmes respectively.

The Commission is also proposing a sub-programme to allocate more than EUR210 million to a new financial guarantee facility, which would attract extra funding from investors on the basis of risk sharing with the EU, thereby enabling small operators to access up to EUR1 billion in bank loans. This is recognition that other
EU risk sharing initiatives (see articles above) are not appropriate to the specificities of cultural and creative industries which tend to be smaller in stature, work on a non-mass production basis, and deal in intangible assets such as intellectual property rights.

Another cross-cutting element will provide EUR60 million in support of analysis and studies for policy cooperation and fostering innovative approaches to audience-building and new business models.

Further details:

Posted by iroronan

November 15, 2011

Project: Dublin's resilient, sustainable city

Representatives of 16 European cities, as well as research institutions and the Climate Alliance city network, gathered in Dublin on 11 November to launch the recently-approved TURaS (Transitioning towards Urban Resilience and Sustainability) project. Supported by the Environment sub-programme of the Seventh Framework Research Programme to the tune of EUR6.7 million, TURaS aims to enable cities and their rural hinterlands ''to build resilience in the face of significant sustainability challenges''. Its next five years will entail researchers, local authorities and business interests from the partner cities working together to create new 'transition strategies' to safeguard daily life in the face of negative environmental effects and climate risks while also acting to reduce their urban ecological footprint.

The overall project is coordinated by UCD and includes Dublin City Council as partners. Investigating the feasibility of using derelict sites to increase urban biodiversity and improve urban community life will be the principle focus for Dublin while other cities will address issues such as mitigating against higher flood risks and looking at new approaches to dealing with rain water such as green walls and roofs. An important element of the project will revolve around engaging with local citizens to get their input on sustainability issues in order to ''co-produce the city of the future'' according to Dublin City Planner Dick Gleeson.

Posted by iroronan

September 12, 2011

LIFE and local authorities: An overview

To showcase 70 of the most successful examples of local and regional authorities who have used the EU's funding instrument for the environment as a means to drive initiatives, the European Commission and the Council of European Municipalities and Regions have recently released a publication entitled 'LIFE and local authorities: Helping regions and municipalities tackle environmental challenges'. The brochure also includes an analysis of local and regional policy challenges in the fields of mobility, climate change, waste & water management and urban planning.


Posted by iroronan

August 26, 2011

Co-financing burden reduced for Irish programmes

One of the ramifications of the ongoing economic crisis and severe cuts in public budgets has been greatly heightened difficulties for organisations in securing 'match funding' to complement support that they have secured from EU Cohesion, Rural Development, or Fisheries Policy with particular projects or initiatives in mind. This has slowed the progress (in some cases even the launch) of certain programmes and brought with it the risk of decommitment of unspent allocations.

Under a Commission proposal brought forward in August, six Member States, including Ireland, would be allowed to effectively reduce their national contribution in such instances in order to inject additional financing into their economies and thereby improve funding absorption rates. The additional EU 'co-financing' arrangements would in fact come from a front-loaded reimbursement of funds already committed - bringing the EU contribution up to a maximum of 95% of total costs if requested by a Member State concerned.

The new approach would apply to activities relating to boosting competitiveness, growth and job creation. It is estimated that the benefit to the Irish economy could amount to EUR98 million. This exceptional temporary measure would cease to apply to Ireland as soon as the country stopped receiving support under the European Financial Stabilisation Mechanism.

The Commission has requested that the Council and the European Parliament adopt the proposal in a fast-track legislative procedure by the end of this year to allow for the vital projects to get of the ground as soon as possible.

Posted by iroronan

May 20, 2011

Border Region's productive sector potential

Initial findings from a new Interreg-funded study by the Centre for Cross Border Studies underline the untapped potential of industrial activity in the Border Region and Northern Ireland. The 'By-passed places? The post-Belfast Agreement Border Region Economy' study, presented in a recent article in the Journal of Cross Border Studies in Ireland, has paid special interest to gaining an understanding of the productive structure and long-term prospects of the region by analysing issues including sectors of manufacturing and service industry activity; clustering potential; expansion or contraction trends; productivity levels; employee skills; and ownership (local or foreign).

The report is critical of regional development policy in both jurisdictions for leaving the border area ''stranded''with the exception of major infrastructural improvements along the Belfast-Dublin corridor. The authors conclude that ''new and more relevant frameworks of analysis are urgently needed if the border region and its struggling economy is to be reincorporated into the mainstream of island business life.''

An over-reliance on external investment to the detriment of building in a self-sufficient manner on the existing productive industry base is cited as a particular structural weakness hindering the region's prospects. To the South of the border, this is illustrated by the observation that most County and City Development Plan documents make scant reference to analysing the character and potential of their current indigenous and local manufacturing base - instead concentrating on pursuing a marketing-style approach to attract Foreign Direct Investment, much of which is reliant on external factors such as quality access to international connectivity for exports. The lack of scope for formal local/regional policy initiatives to facilitate the enterprise environment is alluded to as a factor in this disconnect.

Cllr. Patrick McGowan (Donegal County Council and Border Regional Authority), Head of the Irish Delegation to the Committee of the Regions, welcomed the report, saying that it ''underlines the challenges facing peripheral sub-regions within regions that are themselves peripheral'' and said that it ''demonstrates the need for continuing support for a strong Cohesion Policy post-2013 to encourage investment and to ensure that the necessary infrastructure can be put in place.'' However, he warned of the need to recognise recent work on cross-border development at various levels including ongoing investigations by the Department of the Environment, Community& Local Government and the Northern Ireland Department of Regional Development into possibilities for a spatial strategy for the island of Ireland.

Further details

Posted by iroronan

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December 09, 2011
New financing stream for SME research & innovation
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December 05, 2011
Maritime & Fisheries fund unveiled
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December 04, 2011
Cohesion Policy Energy Efficiency Workshop
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December 03, 2011
COSME: future enterprise competitiveness programme
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December 03, 2011
Horizon 2020 structure: Focus on enterprises, products and societal challenges
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