Overview of the EU funds:
The role of the Cohesion Fund is to provide financial help to the economically weaker members of the EU. It is dedicated to the countries with GDP lower than 90% of the EU average. It supports enhancing of the environment and transport infrastructure (through establishment of the Trans-European transport corridors).
As regards the transport infrastructure, the Cohesion Fund focuses on the establishment of the Trans-European transport corridors, which have the maximum impact on the cohesion. Cohesion Fund finances whole projects, project phases which are technically and financially independent, groups of project schemes for environment or transport infrastructure. It is also possible to fund preliminary or technical studies, feasibility studies and assistance projects.
The European Commission is responsible for the final selection of projects and the amount of financing, and each project is approved by a special decision. The Commission assesses whether all conditions for CF funding were met. The duration of the funding is determined according to the nature of the project and concrete conditions of its carrying-out.
The Structural Funds do not finance individual projects but multi-annual programmes for regional development, which are prepared jointly by regions,
States and the European Commission. Projects under the structural funds are carried out on a decentralised basis, and it is not necessary that they are approved by the European Commission. The final decision-making responsibility lies with the given Managing Authority.
The EU structural funds:
- The European Regional Development Fund (ERDF)
- The European Social Fund (ESF)
- The European Agricultural Guidance and Guarantee Fund (EAGGF)
- The Financial Instrument for Fisheries Guidance (FIFG)
The general aim of the EU structural funds is to remove the regional differences in the EU countries.
ISPA is a pre-accession programme, which stipulates that the ISPA funds may be provided only to candidate countries that will later join the European Union.
The main focus of the ISAP programme in the transport sectors is as follows:
· Transport infrastructure that increases the level of sustainable mobility, concretely projects based on the Decision 1692/96/EC criteria
· Degree that enables the beneficiary country to fulfil the objectives of the Accession Partnership including internal connection and compliance of the national system with the Trans-European system, together with the access to this network
On the other hand, ISPA is a predecessor of the Cohesion Fund, which is dedicated only for the EU Member States.
When transferring from ISPA to the Cohesion fund, besides other, also the legal liabilities under ISPA were transformed. As the rules and procedures under ISPA were almost the same as the EU regulations for the Cohesion Fund, the implementation of the already approved ISPA projects is in full compliance with the Cohesion Fund rules.
All ISPA projects that were not finished as on the day of the accession of the Slovak Republic to the EU are now considered as projects under the Cohesion Fund and are governed by all requirements and rules as stipulated by the Council Regulation 1164/94, amended by the EC Regulations 1264/99 and 1265/99.
The Community aid is provided only for the projects of common interest.
The Community aid for projects may have one of the following forms:
a. co-financing of studies related to the projects, including preparation studies, realisation studies and assessment studies, as well as other technical support measures within these studies.
The Community participation in general may not exceed 50% of the total costs on the study.
Exceptionally, in justified cases initiated by the Commission and with the approval of the relevant Member States, the Community participation may exceed 50%.
b. interest subventions on loans granted by the European Investment Bank or other public or private institutions. In general, the subvention duration may not exceed five years,
c. contributions to payment of loans with guarantee granted by the European Investment Fund or other financial institutions,
d. direct investment support in justified cases,
e. Community support according to the letters a) to d) shall be, where suitable, combined, in order to maximise the incentives provided by separated budget sources, which shall be used in the most economical way possible.
The Community support conditions:
1. the Community support is in principle granted only when the project realisation would have financial obstacles,
2. the Community support shall not exceed the minimum, which is considered necessary to launch the project,
3. regardless of the form of the support, according to this regulation the total amount of Community support shall not exceed 10% of total investment costs,
the financial sources shall in principle not be granted to projects or project phases that are financed from other financial sources of the Community.