Today, the Commission adopted its Partnership Agreement with Austria, laying down Austria’s €1.3 billion cohesion policy investment strategy for the period 2021-2027. The funds will support Austria in promoting economic, social and territorial cohesion, with a focus on key EU priorities such as the green and digital transition. The funds will also contribute to the country’s competitive, innovative and sustainable growth.
An innovative and energy efficient Austria
Austria aims to invest 61% of its European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) resources in research infrastructure for high-tech production, boosting productivity and resource efficiency. Circular economy, digitalisation and energy efficiency will be guiding principles in the selection of projects.
Moreover, the Just Transition Fund (JTF) will support the country’s transition to a climate-neutral economy. In particular, Austria will invest in the diversification of companies and start-ups to climate neutral and resource efficient activities that provide alternative jobs to replace those in energy intensive industries presently relying on fossil fuels as energy sources.
The European Maritime Fisheries and Aquaculture Fund (EMFAF) will aim to enhance the sustainability through innovative and modern aquaculture installations and innovative and resource efficient aquaculture businesses.
An inclusive country
Austria has allocated around €130 million from the European Social Fund Plus (ESF+) and ERDF to promote social cohesion. Attention will be paid to gender equality and equal opportunities in education and employment by, for example, promoting women’s and single parents’ access to the labour market. Funds will also support investments in infrastructures, jobs and education for persons with disabilities, people with migrant backgrounds and other disadvantaged groups.
Furthermore, the ESF+ will focus on social innovation, with a Centre of Excellence, promoting knowledge sharing and creating networks, participatory processes and experimentation spaces to strengthen innovation capacity.
Engaging local actors for an integrated, coordinated development of urban and rural areas
To improve quality of life in cities and urban areas, Austria will invest €46 million of the ERDF allocation in sustainable urban and rural development focussing on resource efficiency, climate adaptation, an innovation-oriented economy and local development. Drawing on the positive experience with the Community-Led Local Development (e.g., the CLLD project KLAR! KAUNERGRAT), this approach will be continued in Tyrol to boost integrated social, economic and ecological development.
Members of the College said:
Commissioner for Cohesion and Reforms, Elisa Ferreira, said: “Austria will focus cohesion policy investments on research and innovation, boosting SMEs’ high-tech production capacities and business competitiveness thanks to resource efficiency, green and digital development. Cohesion policy funds will also support major national strategies and reforms such as the Austrian strategy for research, technology and innovation (FTI Strategie 2030).”
Commissioner for Jobs and Social Rights, Nicolas Schmit, underlined: “With the help of the European Social Fund Plus, Austria will take the implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights to the next level. I very much welcome that equal access to jobs and training is a key priority for Austria for the next programming period. Building inclusive societies is not just a question of fairness, it also brings huge benefits to the economy.”
Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries, Virginijus Sinkevičius, added: “This Partnership Agreement will allow Austria to build a resilient and sustainable fish production sector as well as to boost the digital transition and reinforce the economic and social vitality of rural communities. Via the European Maritime, Fisheries and Aquaculture Fund Austria can support innovative projects that contribute to the sustainable exploitation and management of aquatic resources.”
The Partnership Agreement with Austria paves the way for cohesion programme implementation on the ground and covers 18 programmes, out of which 4 national and 7 cross-border INTERREG programmes. Moreover, it establishes the eligibility and implementation of the JTF in the regions with the most carbon-intensive industrial facilities to face the challenges of the transition to climate neutrality.
The Partnership Agreement also reflects Austria’s strong commitment to the coordinated use of the cohesion policy funds with the Recovery and Resilience Facility.
Under cohesion policy, and in cooperation with the Commission, each Member State prepares a Partnership Agreement, a strategic document for programming investments from the cohesion policy funds and the EMFAF during the Multiannual Financial Framework. It focuses on EU priorities, laying down the strategy and investment priorities identified by the Member State, and it presents a list of national and regional programmes for implementation on the ground, including the indicative annual financial allocation for each programme. The Partnership Agreement with Austria is the fourth agreement for the 2021-2027 funding period, following those of Greece and Germany and Lithuania.