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How the EU Commission can facilitate investments

How to make Structural and Investment Funds at hand for companies

How the EU Commission can facilitate investments

Claudia Astarita

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In order to facilitate the bureaucratic procedure for companies to access European Structural and Investment Funds, the European Commission established a highly specialised group on simplification. The hub of experts formulated a series of recommendations in four main relevant sectors: online procedures, reimbursement, SMEs easy access to funds and a greater availability of financial tools.

Last part of 2016 will see the group involved in simplifying the over-regulation characterising the administrative obligations of beneficiaries from public funds. The group's work has been enthusiastically welcomed by the high representatives of European institutions. For instance, Siim Kalls, the current President of the group and former vice president of the Commission, stressed the need to remove all bureaucratic obstacles, "guarantying synergies between the funds and fostering best practices within the European Union (EU)".

Corina Cretu, Commissioner for Regional Policy, stated "Simplicity and flexibility are essential to assure the success of investment funds in Europe". Furthermore, Mrs Cretu stressed the need to improve the access to funds for small companies and start-ups in order to better place them on the market.

Some recommendations of the group have already been included in the multi-year financial frame of the Commission. Some of them concern the beneficiaries' exoneration from presenting a justification for every single expense. Instead, expenses will be regrouped into categories, such as "employees' expenses". Moreover, the documents presented by the beneficiaries will be presented as digital copies so that they will remain in the online archives, avoiding further presentations of the same act.

Finally, it seems essential to harmonise national regulations on funds access in order to facilitate the process. The aim is the one of reducing the documents required to apply and also to reduce the waiting time. The group has also stressed the need to uniform the procedures required for each fund. In fact, instead of having different regulations, it would be better for the applicant to have a single set, valid for every fund.

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