The negotiations on the multi-annual financial framework were concluded in December 2020. The regulations for the 2021-2027 programming period were adopted on 30 June 2021 and entered into force on 1 July 2021.
The website of the European Commission depicts the current state of play at European level.
Under Article 5 of the Common Provisions Regulation (Regulation (EU) 2021/1060), which contains common rules for all the structural funds, cohesion policy will focus in future on five policy objectives:
In line with the EU regulation, more developed regions like Bremen must use at least 85 per cent of the funding for policy objectives 1 and 2, and at least 30% of the funds must be used for measures under policy objective 2.
Bremen is receiving an ERDF budget of approximately €92 million for 2021-2027 to finance the funding instruments. The funding is to be concentrated on policy objective 1 “A more competitive and smarter Europe” and policy objective 2 “a greener, low-carbon transitioning towards a net zero carbon economy and resilient Europe”. Up to 70 per cent of the funding is to be dedicated to policy objective 1, and at least 30 per cent to policy objective 2. This will comply with the quotas prescribed by the EU regulation.
Unlike in the preceding programming periods, the cofinancing shares for categories of the more developed regions, which include Bremen, are shifted so that these regions have to fund a higher share. Previously, half of the funding came from the EU and half from the Member States or the regions, but now this ratio is shifted to 60 per cent national (regional) funds to 40 per cent EU funds. This means that Bremen’s ERDF programme will have a funding envelope totalling €238 million for the 2021-2027 period (compared to approximately €206 million total funding in the ongoing 2014-2020 programming period).
The EU regulation provides a total of four specific objectives for policy objective 1. On the basis of the funding requirements notified by the departments in the Free Hanseatic City of Bremen and the coordination, we propose that the ERDF funding be concentrated on the specific objective “Developing and enhancing research and innovation capacities and the uptake of advanced technologies” (specific objective i)” and on the specific objective “Boosting growth and competitiveness of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) (specific objective iii)”. A very small funding requirement was reported for the specific objective “Utilisation of the advantages of digitalisation”, which does not justify a separate specific objective. No funding requirements were presented for the specific objective “Development of skills for smart specialisation”. Aspects of these two specific objectives are integrated in the context of specific objectives i and iii, e.g. in the AI thematic area.
In the investment guidelines for the ERDF in Germany, the European Commission requires a focus in policy objective 1 on the transfer of expertise, the strengthening of private-sector R&D activities and skills, and support for technological transformation, particularly of SMEs. The concentration on specific objectives i and iii described below is in compliance with the requirements made by the European Commission.
In specific objective 1, funding is to go towards the expansion of R&D infrastructure of universities and research establishments and the creation and expansion of commerce-related R&D infrastructure.
The implementation of the various interventions is intended to bring about a targeted expansion of the R&D infrastructure in order to attain highly innovative outcomes, deepen core competencies and technological leadership in the region, and strengthen the transfer of technology and expertise.
A major focus of the funding is to be placed on boosting the R&D activities of SMEs in the context of individual and collaborative projects. The implementation of various funding measures is intended to support corporate innovative and collaborative projects with other SMEs and/or academic institutions in the State of Bremen. The measures cover projects in individual companies which promote research, development and innovation (FEI funding programme, primarily grant funding with the option of a supplementary loan component), collaborative and cooperative projects in aerospace research (LuRaFo funding programme), the development and implementation of innovative projects which reduce the environmental footprint (programme to promote applied environmental technologies, PFAU) and innovative scientific projects of applied environmental research (AUF).
The funding is provided in accordance with the regional innovation strategy of the State of Bremen (innovation strategy of the State of Bremen 2030). All the measures must relate to the fields covered by the innovation strategy.
The intervention aims to stabilise and increase the startup rate and to foster the sustainability of startups. Furthermore, the investment activities of SMEs are to be boosted by startup projects. A special focus is placed on innovative startups and startups by women. The measures are also to contribute to the safeguarding and creation of (innovative) jobs.
Consultancy services and coaching sessions can be supported throughout the startup process (pre-startup to post-startup phase) in order to improve the climate for and interest in startups. Specific measures are available for startups by women, e.g. by assisting complex innovative startup projects. The measures are implemented by the “Starthaus”, which serves as a one-stop shop.
Innovative startups are to be given support during their prestart-up and startup phase in the context of the funding for startups and growth of SMEs. In this way, entrepreneurs are to be helped to further develop and roll out their business concepts. Low-threshold funding offers are to help new entrepreneurs, micro and small enterprises and freelancers to finance project-related investment and equipment.
The funding is provided in the form of support towards a loan (ERDF microloan). Further to this, the funding for young, technology-oriented companies in the post-startup and market-entry phase is to continue via the ERDF venture capital fund. Support is given to companies which have a need for finance relating to product development, market launch or an expansion of a business area.
In order to implement the horizontal objective of equal opportunities, the funding is being complemented by an initiative of the State of Bremen for Gender fairness and diversity as factors for successful innovation and securing skilled workers. In the context of this initiative, companies, affiliations of companies, business promotion units and project managers can submit various projects and funding applications to attract more women into innovative companies and SMEs in “forward-looking sectors” and thus to help to safeguard the availability of skilled labour. This includes the encouragement of a more diversity-oriented business culture, the development of strategies to recruit women, particularly into sectors which have so far been predominantly male, the establishment of mixed teams in innovation and technology development, and advice, coaching and support relating to the formation of networks.
The EU Regulation sets out a total of seven specific objectives for policy objective 2, but only five of these are of relevance for Germany. On the basis of the funding requirements reported by the departments and the negotiations, it is proposed that the ERDF funding be concentrated on the specific objective “Funding of energy-efficiency measures (specific objective i)”, the specific objective “Funding of Adaptation to Climate Change (specific objective iv)”, and the specific objective Improving biological biodiversity and green infrastructure in urban areas (specific objective vii).
According to the investment guidelines for Germany, the European Commission sees a particular need for ERDF funding in policy objective 2, particularly in the improvement of energy efficiency in public buildings and infrastructure, and in adaptation to climate change. The focus on specific objectives i), iv) and vii) is in harmony with this demand and with the EU’s Green Deal.
The EU’s Green Deal sets out ambitious medium- to long-term carbon emission reduction targets, and this results in specific challenges in the field of energy efficiency in the State of Bremen, including for the deployment of the ERDF funding. In this context, the reduction of energy consumption has a key role to play in the efforts to attain Bremen’s climate targets.
The public buildings and infrastructure sector is believed to offer a large potential for energy savings. In view of the wide range of support available from the Federation for energy efficiency measures in companies, the ERDF strategy is focused entirely on the public sector. The funding is to go towards improvements in the energy performance of public (non-residential) buildings and public infrastructure, including schools, sports halls, social facilities and energy efficiency measures at neighbourhood level. It is to be disbursed on the basis of a funding guideline covering the State of Bremen. Further to this, there are plans to offer advice on climate action and energy in all areas for companies, with a focus on SMEs.
The challenges and needs for investment in the field of climate adaptation derive from Bremen’s climate adaptation strategy. Particular challenges are considered to be frequent extremely heavy rainfall with substantial damage to urban areas from flooding, greater damage from storm tides with corresponding risks for urban areas due to the ongoing rise in the sea level and a significant trend towards higher temperatures in dense built-up areas with less favourable or even unfavourable bioclimatic situations for people in towns and cities. There is a need for investment in projects designed to boost resilience and future viability.
The Central Implementation Programme for the Strategy of Adaptation to the Consequences of Climate Change is to receive funding. The funding is to go towards non-investment measures like concepts, simulations or modelling, supportive measures like information campaigns, as well as investment in, for example, the adaptation of infrastructure or prototypes.
Green urban infrastructure is a key precondition for cities to be attractive places in which to live and work. Green areas – be they natural, close to nature and/or designed – form an important basis not only for flora and fauna, but also for people’s lives. The measures aim to improve ecosystem services in built-up areas, to make a contribution to the protection and experiencing of biodiversity, and to reduce the negative environmental effects of the growth and use of urban areas.
The intention is to fund projects to create, upgrade and design green urban infrastructure like parks and green areas, watersides, urban forests, public squares and other open spaces, green streets and green roofs and facades.
As part of the accompanying evaluation of the 2014-2020 ERDF programme, Ramboll Management designed a preliminary study for impact evaluation. The planning of the future ERDF programme was based on the findings.
This document (pdf, 694 KB) (german, pdf, 694 KB) depicts the socio-economic changes since 2014 and the conclusions for the new programming period.
In the context of a partnership-based coordination process, the regional stakeholders were constantly involved in various working groups in the planning of the strategic orientation of the funding priorities. In an opening event, we and the partners stipulated the structure of the work for the programme planning process and subsequently convened in regular joint workshops in the period from January 2020 to June 2021.
The planned interventions outlined in the draft ERDF programme were examined to see whether an SEA needs to be carried out in accordance with section 35 (1) in conjunction with section 37 of the Environmental Impact Assessment Act.
In the light of the draft programme, the view is taken that no projects are being financed in accordance with Annex 1 of the Act and that there are no projects which require an environmental impact assessment under state law. Further to this, a preliminary examination of the individual case in the context of climate adaptation measures has shown that only small areas can be affected at local level and that it is likely that there will not be any serious environmental impact (in line with section 37 of the Act).
As a result, the ERDF managing authority has determined that there is no requirement for an SEA for Bremen’s 2021-2027 ERDF programme.
In addition to the regulations which stipulate the specific framework and the substantive priorities of the forthcoming 2021-2027 programming period for the ERDF, the European Union (EU) also stipulates the long-term budget plan, known as the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF), for seven years. The MFF is adopted unanimously by the Council of the European Union on the basis of a proposal from the European Commission and following the approval of the European Parliament. The MFF for 2021-2027 contains the funding envelope for regional and cohesion policy.
In December 2020, the European Council cleared the path for the final steps to the adoption of the MFF. Accordingly, approximately €1 trillion is to be available in 2021-2027 to cope with common challenges. This includes €1.3 billion in additional money for Germany.