By Stefanos Evripidou
THE European Commission announced yesterday it has adopted a ‘Partnership Agreement’ with Cyprus setting down the strategy for the optimal use of European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) in tackling the crisis and encouraging growth.
The Commission said in a statement that the agreement paves the way for investing €735.6m in total Cohesion Policy funding over 2014-2020 (in current prices, including European Territorial Cooperation funding) and €132.2m for rural development to be channeled into the real economy. To promote the fisheries and maritime sector, Cyprus will receive €40m from the Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF).
“The EU investments will support the Cypriot economy in emerging from the crisis and encourage economic activity. They will help tackle unemployment and boost competitiveness and economic growth through support to entrepreneurship, innovation, training and education. They will also fight social exclusion and help develop an environmentally-friendly and resource-efficient economy,” the Commission said.
The ESIF funds are: the European Regional Development Fund; the European Social Fund; the Cohesion Fund; the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund; and, the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development.
Commenting on the adoption, Commissioner for Regional Policy, Johannes Hahn said that the “agreement lays the foundations for the use of EU investments for the restructuring of the Cypriot economy, setting up a new growth model and helping Cyprus at this challenging time to exit from the crisis”.
He added that “Cyprus will invest in priorities from tourism, energy, agro-food, urban development to infrastructure in transport, health, environment and ICT and ordinary people will feel the benefit”.
Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion, László Andor noted that “the European Social Fund (ESF) will help Cyprus to get back to a sustainable growth path and a job rich recovery while helping to mitigate the impact of the crisis on the most disadvantaged. ESF support will focus on getting people back into work, creating opportunities for young people, also by using the Youth Employment Initiative (YEI), developing human capital, reinforcing public administration and improving social inclusion”.
“We increased funding for small scale fisheries in order to secure a better future of fishermen and coastal communities in Cyprus. It will also support the development of a competitive and environmentally friendly aquaculture sector – and since farmed fish is local fish, this sector will also help to create jobs locally,” said Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Maria Damanaki.
She added that “Cyprus is taking a holistic approach regarding the integrated maritime policy and intends to allocate financial support in measures concerning the marine environment. The environmental dimension is treated as a priority across the planned activities”.