With a number of measures, the European Union funds different areas of the social life of its member countries and associated states. In addition to the Research Framework Programme, EU structural funds are among the most important funding instruments for SMEs.
EU structural funds aim at compensating economic and social differences between the member states and the regions of the European Community. Approx. 30 % of the funds of the EU budget are used for this purpose. To this end, structural funds with different fields of work were established:
The major goals of the structural funds are to reduce the development differences of the European regions (convergence goal) and thus to contribute to the economic and social cohesion of the community (cohesion goal). The structural funds are managed in the member states where the EU funds are part of national funding programmes. As a rule, in Germany the federal states' ministries of economics and/or ministries of labour and social affairs are responsible for the fund management regarding ERDF and ESF. Funding is realised within the framework of federal state regulations, which are also managed in other ministries.
ERDF funds are primarily intended for funding in the areas of productive investments to create and safeguard jobs, infrastructures, local development initiatives and support for SME activities.
ESF is the key funding instrument of the European Union in terms of employment policy. ESF aims to prevent and combat unemployment, develop human resources and foster integration into the job market. The implementation of the programmes and measures is carried out by both the Federal Government and the federal states. On its websites, the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs provides detailed information on funding opportunities and procedures as well as on contact persons in the respective federal states.
The joint initiatives are financed out of structural funds resources and are intended to supplement the structural funds. In contrast to the structural funds, the EU sets the goals and contents for the joint initiatives in advance. In Germany, joint initiatives are also managed by the federal states. In general, EU funds are incorporated in specific programmes of the federal states and projects are funded according to the criteria established in these programmes.
The EQUAL initiative is financed with ESF funds and has a labour-market policy orientation. EQUAL model projects are intended to contribute to combat discrimination and inequalities of any kind related to the job market. As a national coordination centre and programme administration authority, BMWi is responsible for its implementation in terms of content and financing.
INTERREG III is financed out of ERDF funds and supports increased cooperation between the regions of the European Union. Here, distinctions are made between
LEADER+ funds in particular development in rural areas. The German Networking Centre (Deutsche Vernetzungsstelle) is part of the Federal Institute of Agriculture and Food (BLE).
URBAN II is financed out of ERDF funds and is intended to support the economic and social recovery of crisis districts or cities.
LIFE+ is the only EU funding instrument that is exclusively devoted to the environment. The former programmes in LIFE (LIFE-Nature, LIFE-Environment, LIFE-Third Countries) are merged into LIFE+. Funding areas include "Implementation and Good Management Practice" as well as "Information and Communication".
Contact points in Germany are generally the environmental authorities of the federal states.
Via Marco Polo II measures are funded that aim at reducing congestion in road traffic and enhancing the environmental friendliness of the transport system affecting at least two member states or at least one member state and one neighbouring non-member state.
eContentplus transnationally funds the production, dissemination and use of digital contents on the European level. In this context, priorities are:
eContentPlus comes to a close on 31 December 2008.
From 2009, measures to facilitate access to as well as use and exploitation of barrier-free digital contents are continued via programmes supporting ICT policy as part of the Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme (CIP).
Activities, programmes, contacts regarding culture funding of the European Union.