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2013. 11. 29.I author: European Association of Development Agencies -

Changes in the Cohesion Policy Regulation

The European Commission is close to adopting the Cohesion Policy Regulation. It seems that R&D;+I and some changes will be introduced, compared to the original Commission proposal. Below is a small update of what might be new for RIS3 penholders. We will keep you updated and inform you once the final text has been published.

Please note that the wording and numbering of the articles might change slightly in the revision that is currently on-going.



  • Annex I:
    • 7a.2. (2) and (3)Member States and regions shall seek to make use of cooperation to achieve critical mass, (d)  achieve critical mass, particularly in the field of research and innovation and ICT, education and in relation to measures improving the competitiveness of SMEs;  and also to promote the development of joint smart specialisation approaches and partnerships among educational institutions. Interregional cooperation shall, where appropriate, include fostering cooperation between innovative research-intensive clusters and exchanges between research institutions taking into consideration the experience of "Regions of Knowledge" and "Research Potential
    • 7a.3. : mobilisation of EU funding for macro-regional and sea-basin strategies in line with the needs of the programme area identified by the Member States. This can be done, among other actions, by prioritising operations deriving from these strategies by organising specific calls for them or giving priority to these operations in the selection process through identification of operations which can be jointly financed from different programmes.        
  • ANNEX V - Ex ante conditionalities:

1.1. Smart specialisation: hardly any modifications:

    • Applicable to all investment priorities under 1 under ERDF ; not applicable to innovation investments under the EAFRD any more
    • Features of well-performing national or regional research and innovation systems (of the Innovation Union) are back after an initial deletion. This offers the opportunity to remind the MS and regions of what is the origin of the different fulfilment check criteria.
    • Strangely the reference to "research and innovation" in the title of smart specialisation strategies has vanished.

1.2. Research and innovation infrastructure investments:

    • Applicable to Investment Priority1a (in addition to smart specialisation)
    • The multi-annual plan for budgeting and prioritization can only be " indicative " and there is no compulsory link to ESFRI roadmap any more but "where appropriate"

2.1. the digital growth: can be now a "strategic policy framework" and be part of the RIS3  ; it should be "consistent" with the digital agenda scoreboard (no need to be fully in line with it) ; no targets, but only "indicators" to measure progress

2.2. national or regional Next Generation Network Plans  have to be based on an economic analysis taking account of existing private and public infrastructures and planned investments; (i.e. an analysis of coverage gaps alone is insufficient)

    • NGN also applies to EAFRD investments in broadband

3. SME support: considerable changes:

    • not applicable to the new Investment Priority 3 ba: "creation and the extension of advanced capacities for product and service development" but the rest of Investment Priority 3
    • no more reference to the time and financial targets for licenses and start-ups
    • new criterion on a mechanism to monitor the implementation of the measures of the SBA and assess the impact on SMEs.


ERDF regulation:

  • Article 3 - Scope of support:
    • aa: The focus of direct aid for productive investments on SME support has been softened by expanding it from R&I and low carbon investments to  ICT investments (broadband and services)  if it involves cooperation between large enterprises and SMEs
    • the possibility of investments in infrastructure has been expanded to business, research and innovation infrastrucutres
    • 2a. Under the European Territorial Cooperation goal, the ERDF may also support the sharing of human resources and facilities and all types of infrastructure across borders in all regions (that might be interesting for cluster secretariats and research infrastructures etc.)
  • Art. 4 : thematic concentration: has been watered-down considerably
    • Transition regions: only 60% of concentration
    • Island regions / MS: only 50% of concentration (like less developed regions, even if they are in fact more dev. or transition regions)
    • not 3 but 4 concentration themes (ICT has been added)
    • the minimum for low carbon has been raised to 15% for transition regions and 12% for less developed regions (= lowering of the share for the other 3 concentration themes…)
    • low carbon (TO4) is now the only compulsory TO and has a minimum earmarking of funding
    • in addition to TO4, MS have to choose at least 1 out of the following 3 TOs: 1. Research and innovation, 2. SME competitiveness, 3. ICT.
  • Article 5 - Investment priorities
    • Investment Priority1b: promoting business investment in innovation and research, and developing links and synergies between enterprises, R&D centres and higher education, and eco-innovation have been added.
    • Investment Priority2 (a) besides broadband deployment also supporting the adoption of emerging technologies and networks for the digital economy and in (c) strengthening ICT applications also  e-culture investments are possible
    • Investment Priority 3 (3) (a) includes now business incubators ; (c) supporting the creation and the extension of advanced capacities for product and service development;  (bb) supporting the capacity of SMEs to engage in growth in regional, national and international markets, and in innovation processes;
    • Investment Priority(4) supporting the shift towards a low-carbon economy now contains a new (ea) promoting research in, innovation in and adoption of low-carbon technologies;
    • Investment Priority (6) protecting the environment and promoting resource efficiency now includes (ea) promoting innovative technologies to improve environmental protection and resource efficiency in the waste sector, water sector, soil protection or to reduce air pollution; and (eb) supporting industrial transition towards a resource-efficient economy, promoting green growth, eco-innovation and environmental performance management in the public and private sectors;



  • Art 3 – scope:
    • (1)    a (iii) Self-employment, entrepreneurship and business creation including innovative small, medium sized and micro enterprises;
    • (2)    (b)  Enhancing the accessibility, use and quality of information and communication technologies, through the development of digital literacy and e-learning, , investment in e-inclusion, e-skills and related entrepreneurial skills;
    • (3)    (c)   Strengthening research, technological development and innovation, through the development of post-graduate studies and entrepreneurial skills, the training of researchers, networking activities and partnerships between higher education institutions, research and technological centres and enterprises



  • Article 5 - Union priorities for rural development:
    • (1) (a)    fostering innovation, cooperation, and the development of the knowledge base in rural areas;
    • (2)          enhancing farm viability and competitiveness of all types of agriculture in all regions and promoting innovative farm technologies
  • Art 16 – advisory services:
    • Advice to the individual farmers on (c)   measures at farm level provided for in rural development programmes aiming at farm modernisation, competitiveness building, sectoral integration, innovation, market orientation as well as the promotion of entrepreneurship
  • Article 55 -  1.     Each Member State shall establish a national rural network: (3)a (iv) provision of networking activities for advisors and innovation support services;

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