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Frequently Asked Questions about European Structural Funds
Between 2007 - 2013 the economy and people across Wales will benefit from around £3.8 billion of investment through the European Structural Funds programmes that aim to create jobs and boost economic growth.
Here are some frequently asked questions about European Structural Funds to help potential project sponsors and those who simply want to know more about how the funding programmes work:
1. What are structural funds?
Structural funds are funds allocated by the European Union (EU) to support the poorer regions of Europe and to provide support for integrating European Infrastructure especially in the transport sector.
For the period 2007 - 2013 Wales has qualified for EU Structural Funds to support three types of programmes:
i. Convergence covering West Wales and the Valleys
ii. Regional Competitiveness and Employment covering East Wales
iii. Territorial Co-operational, including the Ireland-Wales Cross-border programme.
2. What is Convergence?
Convergence is the highest level of support that has been awarded to the West Wales and the Valleys region from the European Union’s Structural Funds programming round of 2007-2013. The funding comes from two separate EU Structural Funds the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and European Social Fund (ESF). Overall the Convergence Programme will drive a total investment of £3.5 billion into West Wales and the Valleys.
3. What is the difference between the ERDF and ESF funds?
Approximately £1 billion of the ERDF will help progress the region’s transformation into a sustainable and competitive economy by investing in the knowledge economy and helping new and existing businesses to grow. It will also focus on Wales’ most deprived communities, tackling climate change and improving transport.
Over £690 million of the ESF will be used to tackle economic inactivity, increase skills and employment.
4. What areas of Bridgend are eligible for ERDF and ESF funding?
The whole of the West Wales and the Valleys region including all wards of Bridgend are eligible for funding from both ERDF and ESF.
5. Who can apply?
Applications for funding are welcomed from the private, public and third sectors who are proposing projects that can deliver on the aims and objectives of the funds.
6. How do you apply?
There are a number of steps to the application process when applying for EU Structural Funds:
i. Submit a Project Idea Form (PIF) to the interactive Welsh European Funding Office (WEFO) website www.wefo.wales.gov.uk. This is for the purpose of sharing information with interested stakeholders and potential partners in addition to discussing how their project idea fits within a particular Strategic Framework with the relevant WEFO officer.
ii. Request to submit an Expression of Interest (EOI) when it can be demonstrated that all aspects of a proposal is eligible for funding and the Project Idea has been posted to the WEFO website.
iii. In response to the request to submit an EOI the relevant WEFO Project Development Officer (PDO) will contact the applicant and work with them to progress their EOI. The decision to progress, defer or reject an EOI rest with the WEFO Priority Controller who will make a decision based on the recommendations of the PDO.
iv. If the decision to progress an EOI is made the PDO will work with the applicant to produce a Project Business Plan that will apply WEFO's Selection and Prioritisation Criteria to the project proposal.
7. After applying for funding how is the decision made whether you are successful or not?
Following a full assessment of your application against WEFO's Project Selection and Piroritisation Criteria a formal decision on whether support can be offered will be issued. If support is to be offered a formal detailed letter of approval will be sent out to the successful project sponsor.
Advice and support on submitting project proposals to WEFO:
For advice and guidance on developing EU funded projects contact your local Specialist European Teams (for each of the North, Central, South West and South East Wales regions, as well as a Third Sector European Team [3-SETs]).
Advice and guidance on how your organisation can benefit from European funding is also available by contacting the WEFO Helpline on tel: 0845 010 3355 or email: email@example.com.