Majority of businesses that apply for funds manage to obtain them, but administrative procedures should be simplified more.
The Malta Business Bureau (MBB) published a report on the impact of EU funds on the Maltese economy and the opportunities and challenges that businesses face when applying for EU funds. The report, entitled ‘Improving Access to EU Funds by Private Enterprise in the Programming Period 2021-2027’, found that while businesses need further facilitation to apply for EU funds, most of the businesses that do apply manage to obtain funds.
The report was launched in a Webinar entitled ‘Unlocking Business’ Capacity to Access to EU Funds’, where it was also explained that EU funds during the 2014-2020 programming period were estimated to have contributed EUR 662m to Malta’s GDP and 1,920 new jobs during that seven-year period. The report also featured a survey with responses from over 100 Maltese businesses that have either already applied for EU funding or are considering doing so to be able to evaluate businesses’ experiences and expectations, and what more needs to be done to facilitate access.
MBB President, Simon De Cesare explained, “49% of respondents to our survey have applied for EU funding, either directly to Brussels-managed programmes or to locally-administered structural funds, and positively, 76% of these companies managed to obtain them.” “One can only imagine how much more beneficial EU funds can be for the country and to businesses themselves if more companies were encouraged to apply”, he continued.
The webinar panellists concurred with the report’s conclusions that more could be done to facilitate businesses access to EU funds, including further awareness raising and simplifying procedures to reduce administrative burden. Words of encouragement to prospective applicants were also offered, with panellists explaining that while the application process can be cumbersome, it should not be intimidating, and the rewards can go a long way to help businesses fulfil investment goals.
Through the report, the MBB put forward several recommendations, which seek to improve business access to EU funds. These recommendations include, amongst others, simplifying certain specific procedures, providing support to companies who are required to seek international partners to fulfil eligibility criteria, and increasing awareness of calls for applications.
“The subject of EU funds and the opportunity they present to businesses is close to our heart and represents one of the MBB’s core missions”, stated MBB CEO Joe Tanti. “We will be increasing our efforts to support businesses in tapping directing funding in Brussels, by welcoming concept notes and helping them identify the correct funding stream for their project ideas. This service will be offered through the Enterprise Europe Network – Malta.”
The Malta Business Bureau also recently presented the report to the Parliamentary Secretary for EU Funds, Dr. Stefan Zrinzo Azzoppardi, in a meeting where the key findings and recommendations were highlighted. The Malta Business Bureau and the Parliamentary Secretariat have committed to working together to encourage more businesses to apply for EU funds.
The full publication can be viewed here.