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TAPT Meeting: 13-14 February 2014

The third meeting within the margins of the Transfer of Administrative and Pedagogical Tools Useful to Manage Mobility project, which commenced in 2012 and aims to improve the quality and attractiveness of the European VET system by adapting and integrating innovative content or results from previous Leonardo da Vinci projects, or from other innovative projects into public and/or private vocational training systems and companies at the national, local, regional, or sectoral level, was held in Ankara, Turkey on the 13-14 February 2014.

Representatives from Paragon Europe (Malta), Adice (France), Projinal (Turkey) and Cesie (Italy) participated in the two day event. The partners in this project are specialised in the various stages of mobility; i.e. receiving individual students, sending individual students and receiving and sending groups of students, making discussions within this group very informative and fruitful. Interchanges over the two days focused on the developments made so far and the next steps to be taken for the refining and finalisation of the pedagogical tools being tested and discussed.

The end of the project will see the creation of generic tools that can be used for all programmes and in all organisations. These tools will be presented during the final meeting which will be held in Palermo on the 26-27 May 2014.

For more information about this project and all other services offered by Paragon Europe please contact us on info@paragoneurope.eu

 

Upcoming event: smeSpire day

In April 2014 Paragon Europe will organize the ‘smeSpire Day’, within the margins of the smeSpire project which started in 2012 and will come to an end later this year. The event will showcase the project results, products and opportunities for national entrepreneurial structures, with particular attention being given to ICT SMEs. An info point will also give interested participants the opportunity to register live to the smeSpire network. More information about this project can be found on http://www.smespire.eu/ while for more information about this event contact us on maria.limongelli@paragoneurope.eu

 

LEMOR GRUNDTVIG LEARNING PARTNERSHIP PROJECT  

(LEARNING MANAGERS LEARNING ORGANIZATIONS FOR MANAGING SOCIAL EXCLUSION  AND POVERTY)

Lemor is an EU-funded project under the LLP programme. This project is designed for finding new cross-cultural ways and sharing of good practice on poverty and social exclusion in EU States, because these problems are among the most relevant on the EU agenda. Therefore, organizations from 6 countries: United Kingdom, Germany, Poland, Italy, Malta and Turkey have formed a partnership to represent multi-player action.

The origins of some exclusion problems are different in participating countries due to their history, cultural traditions and political systems. In each partner country there are many local solutions and good practices, which are unknown to other countries and should be shared. The concrete project objectives are, amongst others: understanding the problems a whole and seeing the general picture; seeing and examining all the types of social exclusion and poverty; and sharing experiences .

Paragon Europe is a partner institution in the project and is acting in accordance with the project aims. Within the margins of this project Paragon Europe is also cooperating with 2 local NGOs – YMCA and Kopin. These NGOs are specialized in poverty reduction  and staff representatives from both have accompanied Paragon staff to meetings held in partner countries and have participated in the meeting held in Malta on 15-16th January.

 For more information about this project please contact us on info@paragoneurope.eu and visit the project website on www.lemorproject.eu

 

Lemor meeting on Malta

The Lemor project meeting was held in Malta on the 15-16thJanuary 2014. Partners from Italy, United Kingdom, Turkey, Germany, Poland and Malta attended the meeting. LEMOR is a project designed for finding new cross-cultural ways and sharing of good practices on poverty and social exclusion in EU States, because these problems are among the most relevant on the EU agenda. Therefore Paragon Europe organized visits to different organizations to show the best practices of organizations who work with social exclusion and poverty in Malta. 

During the first day of the project meeting the group visited the Richmond foundation . The Foundation is a non-governmental organization and is a leading local NGO in the provision of community services for persons with mental health difficulties and in the promotion of mental health and the prevention of mental illness amongst the public.

During the second day of the project meeting, visits were held at YMCA and Suret-il-Bniedem. YMCA is a non-profit and ecumenical movement seeking to promote the vision to build a more than just society. YMCA provides basic shelter to its clients. YMCA is collaborating with Paragon Europe on this project. Suret-il-Bnieden has three houses in Malta and during the project meeting partners visited Dar Teresa Spinelli in Valetta. This home provides shelter for women and their offspring, as well as female minors who have experienced physical, psychological or emotional abuse, which put them in a vulnerable position.

After visiting these organizations, Richmond foundation and Dar Teresa Spinelli were chosen as the best practices in Malta.

The last project meeting will be held in Turkey in May.

 

New project awarded: Transferring competencies through self-narration and the mentoring process

It is a last minute news: Paragon Europe, together with other seven partner coming from different European countries, has awarded another project, or better another Grundtvig Partnership named ‘Transferring competencies through self-narration and the mentoring process’.  

The project is part of the former Life Long Learning Programme and is related to the transfer of competencies through mentoring. The TraMe (this is the acronym of the project) Partnership focuses on intergenerational learning. It brings together eight organizations coming from Italy, Bulgaria, Turkey, Ireland, Germany, Hungary and Portugal, which are committed, with their specific competences, to support the cultural and educational values that go along with traditional artisanship and handicrafts. They are all experienced in mentoring as well as in helping pass on the passion and knowledge connected with handicraft traditions. All the partners are keenly aware of the need to increase the motivation and the skills amongst the Artisans to pass on their knowledge as well as to help younger people understand the importance of learning about those skills and activities.

The general aim of the TraMe Partnership is through the self-narration method to increase both the Artisans motivation and ability to be mentors for their trade and to increase the young adults’ awareness of the importance of this cultural heritage.

The TraMe Partnership specific objectives are to exchange, test and document best practices for using “self-narration” skills to help pass on traditions and artisanship. Special interest will be paid to those methods which enhance intergenerational learning in traditional arts and crafts. The second important objectives is to show how activities like those of the TraMe Project could be become very important in fostering active and responsible citizenship between generations.

The main products of the TraMe Partnership will be:

1. A video guide on “working life self-narration” best practices, created by individual participants of self- narration workshops implemented by each organization.

2. One seminar in each country disseminating information about the processes and results of the project. In particular it will show how intergenerational activities like those of the project contribute to an active and responsible citizenship.

 Among the activities that Paragon Europe will carry out will be to collect the documentation provided by the partner Organisations, and edit, in English, the basic version of the promotional leaflet. They will give inputs on the cooperation with media to promote the Partnership activities, results and product. Malta will also host the fourth project meeting.

For more information about the project and all other services offered by Paragon Europe please contact us on info@paragoneurope.eu.

 

Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs: The Experience of a New Entrepreneur

The main objective of the Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs programme is to help aspiring entrepreneurs acquire new skills and knowledge necessary to set up a business.

Mr Abraham Azzopardi recently returned from a 3 month work experience in Sanok, Poland. This experience was made possible by Paragon Europe, within the margins of the Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs programme.  Mr Azzopardi attended one of the training sessions organised by Paragon Europe, drew up his business plan, embarked on this new experience and on his return to Malta was very enthusiastic to share his experience. When asked to describe his experience, this is what Mr Azzopardi had to say:

“My experience in the Erasmus for young entrepreneurs did not just start three months ago but on December 2012. In December I got to know about this experience and from here I embarked on a journey that led me to where I am today.

The first task was needed from me was to think on a future business I wish and make a business plan on this sector. This experience helped to gain more knowledge on how to do a serious business plan, from where to find the needed information and what calculations are needed when coming to make a decision if to open a business or not.  Apart from the experience in writing a good business plan, this experience also brought me good contact with people in this sector that gave me some good advice from their experience.

The real hands on experience in the business started on 19th September 2013. I never dreamt that this experience would give me so much positive experiences that I would for sure use in my future business. My experience in the company was a very fruitful one where I managed to work in nearly all jobs from the lowest level in the streets with electric cars to the top levels of the company with the management etc. This gave me a good insight on how a successful company is managed.   I managed to work in nearly all the sectors of the company and even managed to visit branches of the company in other countries around Europe to see how business is done there and how the mother company manages to control the business to make it profitable.

My best experience was working with the event planning sector. Here I helped them come up with new ideas to offer to tourists especially in the winter season when Krakow experiences a low level of tourists. Here I saw an event being planned from the brainstorming point to the end until its actually done and also how it is advertised and sold to people.

This experience was a whole process of learning. One should also not forget to mention that apart from learning in the business sector I also had lessons for my personal life. Living alone away from your parents home made me become more independent and capable of catering more for my own things and becoming more self sufficient. Apart from this there is also the positive side of meeting new people and getting friends from different countries and together share different ideas and cultures and learning from each other.

The last positive thing that this experience brought me is the fact that the relationship started with the host entrepreneur will not just finish here. There are plans for this relationship to continue growing on and to start some joint venture together in the near future.

My last words are for people who might be reading this and are considering on going for this thing. I encourage to take up this experience and take it seriously as it will be an experience you will not forget and you will benefit a lot from it.”

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Press release: Smart Islands

Smart Islands is an EU-funded project under the ICT-PSP programme. This project integrates multiple services for tourism, transportation, environment, health, civil protection and other areas under a 3D Tablet-PC interface. The project is delivering more than 20 applications of Mediterranean Islands from Greece, Italy, Spain, Cyprus and Malta.

Mediterranean islands are small, numerous and often lack essential infrastructure. These Islands are also strongly impacted by seasonal tourism. The poor availability of spatial data infrastructure, the lack of available services for sustainable urban environment and city management, and the special socioeconomic conditions are key factors to be considered in the Mediterranean.

The “Smart-Islands” Project targets sectors such as mobility, tourism, leisure, real estate, weather, health, yachting, environment and others. It provides a variety of Mediterranean islands based service-applications under friendly 3D interfaces to multiple users. The Smart Islands project products are operational applications on the iPad and other tablets, offering smart information to island visitors and citizens through state of art technology.

Paragon Europe in one of the partners together with: Epsilon International SA, Epsilon Italia srl, Epsilon Consulting Ltd, Graphitech, Hellenic Small Islands Network, GISIG, Prof. Schaller Umweltconsult, MeteoGRID, iSYS, Ltd and Geomatics SA.

Smart Apps developed through this project can be found on the website: http://www.smart-islands.eu/apps/

MOBility as a source of personal and professional Growth, Autonomy and Employability (MOBGAE)

Paragon Europe is participating in a new EU partnership project called ‘MOBility as a source of personal and professional Growth, Autonomy and Employability’. The main aim of this project is to define the intercultural learning paths in a mobility experience, creating and exploiting a tool which would be useful for the intercultural preparation of participants engaging in a work placement experience and also for the tutors and mentors who are following the learning development of the individuals and groups. The kickoff meeting of this project was held in Florence, Italy between the 24th and 25th of January, 2014. Throughout this meeting all eighteen partners came together to discuss the way forward to implement the MOBGAE project in the best possible way. Furthermore, the roles of each partner were identified. During this process, it was confirmed that Paragon Europe will be assisting in the overall project management of MOBGAE and will implement the project in Malta, by gathering the necessary research and promoting the outcomes of the MOBGAE project.

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Malta 30 January 2014

Traffic Snake Game Network
Paragon Europe will be participating in a new EU funded project called ‘Traffic Snake Game Network’, through the Intelligent Energy Europe Programme. This project will initiate in 2014 and will be implemented over a period of 36 months. The general aim of the ‘Traffic Snake Game Network’ is to establish an effective EU-wide and long term support network to replicate, transfer and expand the uptake of the Traffic Snake Game as a successful proven tool for changing the travel behavior of primary school children and their parents. TSG Network aims to achieve this by shifting journeys undertaken by car to more sustainable modes such as walking, cycling, public transport, park’n’walk and car sharing.

The role of Paragon Europe in the ‘Traffic Snake Game Network’ will be to re-route traffic to formulate a Freight Development Plan for future action. Paragon Europe will also have responsibilities related to conducting professional research, compiling reports for the topic in hand and maintaining communication channels with stakeholders including politicians, teachers and civil society in general. This project brings together nineteen partners from all over Europe and the kick-off meeting is set to take place in Leuven.

Innovative e-Guide in CWH&S project: kick-off meeting in Ruse, Bulgaria 14-15 November 2013

The kick-off meeting of Innovative e-Guide in Construction Workplace Health and Safety project will be held from 14th to 15th of November 2013 in Ruse, Bulgaria. Paragon Europe, as one of the project’s partner will take part in these two days meeting in which each partners will make own presentation of its organisation and in which a better explanation of objectives, aims, results and action plan will be outlined. The Innovative e-Guide project is a Transfer of Innovation project with the aim to develop an innovative, attractive and useful training tool for acquiring key competencies in health and safety signs and signals in construction industry. It will be a way for a construction of a platform in which the users that come from different European countries will have the opportunity to share a unique model based on safety in the workplaces.

For more information about the project and all other services offered by Paragon please contact us on info@paragoneurope.eu.

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SmeSpire project: Progress meeting in Ispra, Italy 29-30 October 2013

 The Progress meeting for smeSpire Project was held in Ispra, Italy from the 29th to the 30th of October 2013. The meeting was held at the Joint Research Centre, the third biggest Commission site after Brussels and Luxembourg and one of Europe's leading research campuses. The objective of the meeting was to analyze the actual status of the project after one year of its implementation from the beginning and to define a common strategy for the upcoming months, which will also be the lasts of the project. The main purpose of the smeSpire project is to encourage and facilitate the participation of the European SMEs in the mechanisms of harmonising and making interoperable huge environmental digital contents, through the application of The INSPIRE Directive 2007/2/EC. This Directive establishing an Infrastructure for Spatial Information in Europe, requires huge environmental digital contents to be harmonised and made interoperable in more than 30 countries in 22 languages across Europe. The management of environmental digital content and languages coming from the INSPIRE implementation is an opportunity for all the European SMEs active in the ICT and environmental sectors, because they can play a key-role in enabling the Member States in fulfilling the Directive obligations with a maximum cost-benefit ratio. Their technical skills and their organizational flexibility can effectively support the Institutions and the stakeholders directly involved in INSPIRE implementation commitments in bridging the big gap existing today between the environmental content providers and the legally binding technological and operational requirements set by the Directive.

The first day of the meeting focused on the mid-term results of the project. Each of the twelve partners involved in the project, through a brief presentation, showed the results achieved at national level, for example the number of SMEs that had joint the smeSpire platform available on the website www.smespire.eu, the number of the Best Practices that each of them has subscribed, the strategy of dissemination that every partner assumed on the spread of the project and its importance to SMEs and not only adhere to it. Finally, the issue of the first bi-monthly report of the project was discussed.

Paragon Europe is still working on contacting new SMEs and other types of organizations, both public and private to increase the number of subscriptions on the online platform but not only. It is essential, to achieve better results for the project to try to create as much as possible liaisons with these organization in order to create a well-informed cluster that is well-informed about the importance of adhering to the initiatives of the project and at the same time to spread its benefits and its implications. All that, to create a well harmonized number of SMEs and organizations that can cooperate at national level, thanks to the standardization of its Geo Data, and thanks to the support of Paragon Europe, that acts as an intermediate expert between them and the European Union. It is also important to identify a number of Best Practices that will be published on the SmeSpire website. It is a public, searchable and structured repository of products, services, projects, tools, procedures, methods and experience of the Geo-ICT SMEs in Europe. It is a showcase enabling a Geo-ICT marketplace from both the offer and the demand sides.

The second day of the meeting focused on the activities expected in some of the Work Packages included in the project and the launch of an action plan useful for the organization of the next-months activities. The lead partners responsible for each of these Work Packages made a presentation of the results of their activities. Some of them were about the graphical elements of the project website (that is one of the most important deliverables of the project), in order to have a well-presented and organized website, in which each SMEs can easily have access and put the information required without any difficulty.

One of the most important deliverables expected was that of developing an educational curricula designed to train environmental data analysis professionals, experts in the maintenance and exploitation of environmental data commons. This smeSpire training programme (developed by the Belgium partner) aims to prepare the GI users/professionals – both beginners and advanced – coming from the commercial sector (SMEs), governmental sector or academic sector to become proficient and successful in implementing INSPIRE. The objective is to help to mature the geospatial professional’s skills and knowledge regarding INSPIRE implementation activities and regarding innovative subjects, which then – in turn - can lead to the creation of (business) opportunities.

The smeSpire training programme consists of 3 types of seminars:

INTRODUCTION SEMINARS: aim to introduce the participants to the heart of the matter (basics) but at the same time stay at the level of non-technical comprehension;

INSPIRE ADVANCED SEMINARS or TRAINING: intents to make the participants proficient in mastering the process(es) and techniques and thus are in-depth and are mostly hands-on training sessions which will enable the participants to effectively execute and test geospatial activities;

INNOVATION SEMINARS (introduction or advanced): aim to make the participants acquainted with innovative technologies (services, applications, trends) and the latest geospatial technological trends.

The training material will be available soon on the smeSpire website platform and it will be free for the members of the network.

The last point raised during the meeting was about the organization, as part of the Work Packages related to the Transfer of the product expected in the project, of an ‘SmeSpire day’. Each partner, according to their own national context has to organize a conference that will have the objective of spreading the results of it, inviting for example the existing members of the network but also it will be held to further disseminate the benefits to get part of a big community that deals with GEO ICT data at European level, in order to increase the knowledge on this topic but also to try to harmonize and sensitize local stakeholders to it.

 

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The Living Heritage: Kick-off Meeting in Malta, 10-12 October 2013


The first meeting for The Living Heritage (TLH) project, was hosted by Paragon Europe and was held in Malta between the 10-12 October 2013. This event brought together participants from the partner countries participating in this project namely, Malta, Bulgaria, Latvia, Italy, the UK, Poland and Greece.

The seminar was organized as part of the fulfillment of the project and was the first time that all the partners met around one table to discuss the future engagements and milestones related to this project. The dates for the meeting in Malta were chosen to coincide with the Birgu Fest which aims to focus on the city’s historic heritage and architectural beauty and which over the years has developed into a national event, where thousands of people roam through the narrow and winding streets of Birgu. Over the course of the three days the participants had the opportunity to discuss different topics related to intangible cultural heritage and in particular the traditional festivals of each region.

The meetings presented an opportunity for each partner to showcase their organisations, the cultural heritage of their town/region and how they plan to promote the intangible cultural heritage through their various roles and activities. This was also the perfect opportunity for the partners to discuss the various roles of each one in the project and the next steps which need to be taken.

An overall presentation of the project and the work program was presented by the project coordinator, followed by discussions relating to the management, cooperation and communication necessary for the success of the project. Discussions were also held on the measures to be taken regarding the dissemination and exploitation of the project results through new media communications such as a project website which is being designed and social networks such as Facebook. Paragon Europe made a presentation showcasing festivals in Malta organized annually by Local Councils.

The visit also included a number of site visits. Participants were taken to the Limestone Heritage which gave them an insight into Malta’s rich history and unique stone resource. On another occasion participants were treated to a tour of Bir Mula, a historical house and museum in Bormla (Cospicua). The building is a unique jewel showing the development of Maltese houses through the ages and its curator John Vella was on hand to answer all questions posed. This visit was followed by a walk to Birgu (Vittoriosa) and our first visit to the Birgu Fest. Participants could follow the historic re-enactments, take advantage of the discounted museum entrances and visit Churches and Auberges. A walking tour of Isla (Senglea) was also part of the program, after which participants crossed over to Birgu by boat.

At the end of the seminar, the participants were presented with certificates of attendance. The next seminar will be held in Poland, in May 2014 and this will build on the achievements of the meeting in Malta.

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Learn how Paragon Europe is helping European Urban areas and their water efficiencies!

Water Efficiency in European Urban Areas (WE@EU) project is based on the ambition to create an open European platform for EU excellence in water efficiency in urban water management. The project’s aim is to step up a high level transnational cooperation between six different regions in Europe (Spain, Malta, UK, Israel, France and Italy) in finding innovative solutions for urban water management. Research driven regional clusters throughout Europe will be established between regional authorities, knowledge institutes and business entities. The reason is for such entities to collaborate and mutually learn to archive more sustainable and competitive water efficiency techniques and practices.

The project commenced in July 2013 during a kick off meeting in Zaragoza and it will last for 3 years during which the partners have to conduct research to identify the priorities in water management as well as identify relevant stakeholders. Moreover, a Joint Action Plan will be presented to the stakeholders and this will shape the discussions in local and international workshops. Paragon Europe will promote innovation in the water efficiency market of product and services by boosting cooperation at a local level and among different European regions represented in research driven clusters.
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A Policy for Europe's Regions 2007-2013

In 2007, the policy for the new period (2007-2013) of EU regional development was launched. The policy is as wide-ranging in its goals as the regions it represents and it is as far-reaching as the land and sea confines it projects to address. This article underlines significant aspects of this policy as well as how these reflect Malta’s objectives and our nation-wide efforts to continue the modernization initiative that is far from completion.

The objectives of the new regional policy are laudable, aiming to address quality of life disparities in Europe which highlight the fact that the richest state in the EU, Luxembourg is seven times wealthier than Romania the poorest member state. The policy aims to be cohesive and offers solidarity across disparate regions trying to find common solutions to challenges that afflict the EU and indeed the developed world: globalization, external immigration, climate change, population ageing and the need for sustainable energy supply.

The crux of the EU regional policy for 2007-2013 is growth and jobs for European regions and cities. A total investment budget of 347.4 billion Euros has been approved by the Commission for this phase of the EU lifespan. It is estimated that 2 million jobs and a 6% growth in new member states will be achieved through this funding.

 Malta’s Objectives and Targets

Malta main focus of programmes is aimed at sustaining a growing knowledge-based competitive economy; improving attractiveness and quality of life; investing in human capital and addressing Gozo’s regional distinctiveness. Amongst its 2007-2013 targets are an increase in GDP/capita from 69.2% (in relation to EU average) to 74%. Increase nominal exports by 4% and increase employment rate from 54.3% in 2005 to 57% in 2013.

Maltese citizens are being made aware of the opportunities and benefits of EU structural and cohesion funds on a regular basis. Members states and regions have an obligation to provide information on the programmes financed by the funds and to publish all final beneficiaries, projects and the amounts granted. The designated Maltese Managing Authority is the Planning and Priorities Coordination Division in the Office of the Prime Minister.

 

Member States Obligations

EU rules state that to ensure better programme implementation the following obligations must be met: Communication plan - For every Operational Programme, information must be divulged comprising a strategy, definition of target groups, planned information and communication measures and an indicative budget including the government departments responsible for the plan and how it will be assessed.

Minimum requirements – At least one major information campaign at programme launch and one in each year of its subsequent implementation. A list of final beneficiaries and the erection of billboards and displays on project sites.

Networking – Efforts must be made between member states and regions on information and communication actions in order to achieve better integration and to learn from best practices.

 Cohesion and structural funding initiatives

Under this tranche of cohesion and structural funding, a wide range of objectives will be addressed. Below are a few examples of the initiatives which will be addressed in the months and years ahead.

 Attracting  Foreign Investment

A key objective of the cohesion policy is supporting SMEs and attracting outside investment. Around 1.2 million enterprises are created in the EU every year, yet only half of them survive the first five years. Structural and cohesion funds will place particular emphasis on supporting the creation and modernization of SMEs. The latter represent the core of the European economy accounting for 99% of businesses in the EU. Micro-enterprises (<10 employees) represent the biggest segment of the labour market in Italy (47%) and Poland (41%). New funding instruments such as Jeremie (vide below) will help address perennial problems of accessing capital and knowledge.

A key challenge for new member states will be to continue attracting investments from foreign countries. Recent successes in Malta to attract foreign investment in the pharmaceuticals and ICT sectors include low corporate taxation, English language speaking and the availability of competitively priced skilled workers. Nevertheless cohesion funding aims to make a difference in other areas that improve a region’s attractiveness – accessibility, education of the workforce, information and communication technologies, infrastructure and spending on research and innovation.

 Sound Financial Management

Three instruments have been developed by the European Commission together with the European Investment Bank (EIB), the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and the Council of Europe Bank (CEB).  Through these financial instruments technical assistance will be offered in the management of large projects or financial engineering, ensuring that the investments maintain their impact and contribute to the long-term development of regions.

The three new instruments are:

JASPERS (Joint Assistance in Supporting Projects in European Regions) – Projects falling under this instrument are transport and energy infrastructure projects and energy efficiency and renewable energy initiatives, particularly in the assessment of public-private partnerships.

JEREMIE (Joint European Resources for Micro to Medium Enterprises) – Products to be developed under this instrument include equity, venture capital, guarantees, loans and technical assistance which allow a multiplier effect of the EU funds by using revolving financial products instead of grants. Tailored schemes will be designed for SMEs in all sectors in order to address access to financial capital.

JESSICA (Joint European Support for Sustainable Investment in City Areas) – This instrument will promote sustainable investment in urban projects through the transfer of  resources from operational programmes and co-financing can come from local councils, banks, pension funds or investment funds.

These three new instruments can be a way forward of accelerating the modernisation process of the Maltese Islands. The current spate of large real estate investment projects (such as Tigne and Manoel Island) and the Smart City Project are showing that the skills set and investors are already in place to realize such projects. With these financial instruments, community projects can be realized through public-private partnerships which are necessary for developing the competitive edge for Malta and assisting it in claiming its place in the knowledge-based driven EU and global markets.

 

Innovating Regions and Cities

A knowledge driven economy cannot develop without a focused and continuous effort that channels funding that aims to create an environment that encourages research, development and innovation. Malta as in many of the smaller member states, programmes include innovation alongside other priorities such as infrastructure development. However this does not imply that there is less emphasis on innovation, as testified for example, by the allocation of funding for information and communication technologies. Under innovation, actions will focus on four areas: strengthening cooperation, both among businesses and between businesses and public research institutions through trans-regional clusters. The second priority is to support research and innovation in small and medium-sized enterprises. The third is to boost regional cross-border and transnational collaboration and the final priority is to strengthen capacity-building infrastructure and human capital in areas with significant growth potential. 

Making Europe Work

Cohesion policy ultimately has to have an impact on European citizens, improving their quality of life, creating better jobs and spurring growth in the EU member states. Through cohesion and structural funding, a shift has occurred towards growth-enhancing investments in EU member states which have become a success story, such as, Ireland. The latter has since 1995, reached 145% of average GDP/head by 2005. The effect in new member states is expected to manifest itself over time, yet growth rates in the three Baltic States have doubled in the decade 1995-2005.

In conclusion, the impact of structural and cohesion funding, should have a beneficial effect on infrastructures, human capital and the community at large through the implementation of cohesion policy which aims to reduce pollution and increase growth and jobs in EU cities and regions. The effect in Malta should reflect what’s happening and will happen in the EU member states. Whether the impact will be greater or lesser of the EU average remains to be seen, it is up to us to ensure that we can formulate good projects that have wide-ranging and far-reaching effects for the greater benefit of Malta and its citizens.

 

 

 

 

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