REACT-EU stands for “Recovery Assistance for Cohesion and the Territories of Europe”. The programme is intended to help the member states through this difficult period by providing financial support for the sectors most affected by the corona crisis. The total amount of €55 billion will be distributed directly to the member states. Part of this amount will be distributed via existing funding programmes and in this way will also benefit Dutch SMEs, in particular via EFRO.
REACT-EU is part of the broader Next Generation EU programme, which is entirely focused on continuous investments in Europe’s future, precisely now, in this period of crisis. In the words of the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen:
“The recovery plan turns the immense challenge we face into an opportunity, not only by supporting the recovery but also by investing in our future: the European Green Deal and digitalization will boost jobs and growth, the resilience of our societies and the health of our environment. This is Europe’s moment.”
The idea that the corona crisis can trigger the much-needed transition towards a green, sustainable economy can be observed at several levels: From the European Green Deal to the Dutch BIK , all financial impulses seem to be aimed at boosting investments and innovation, ensuring that both the economy and (technological) development are not brought to a standstill by the corona crisis. As we cannot but move forwards, let us do so with an optimistic view, looking towards the future, rather than staring at our shoes and merely trying to close the holes that the corona pandemic has left in our current economic models. From crisis to renewal—from grey to green—from today to tomorrow.
Kansen voor West
In the Netherlands, the extra REACT-EU budget will be distributed, amongst others via the well-known EFRO programmes, including Kansen voor West (Opportunities for West), the EFRO programme for the provinces of North and South Holland, Utrecht and Flevoland. This amount is estimated at a very substantial € 90 million for 2021. The money has to be spent by 2023, so it is important to spend this amount as soon as possible by means of new, innovative calls. Kansen voor West aims to open its first new call on 1 February 2021.
Kansen voor West emphasises that REACT-EU is primarily about making the economy resilient in the long term, through a green and digital transition. Calls will be directed towards new, promising projects that may have been slowed down by the corona crisis or have difficulty attracting investors. The EU’s objective is in line with the regional smart specialisation strategy set out by Kansen voor West. Examples of relevant projects are the processing of waste and residues into new products and raw materials, as well as other circular concepts, which can use this financial impulse to make the step from research and innovation to commercialisation and market access.
The provinces of Overijssel and Gelderland can also count on additional financial support: The EFRO programme OP Oost is expecting to receive €40 million from REACT-EU in 2021. OP Oost will also add a new priority to the subsidy agenda in the first quarter of the new year. Here, too, the focus will be on the transition towards a green and digital economy. OP Oost also strives to open a new call at the beginning of 2021. It is expected that the other Dutch EFRO programmes, OP Zuid and OP Noord, will follow a similar trajectory.
Towards a Green and Digital Economy: The Future Starts Today
As can also be seen from the EFRO programmes, the strategy to mitigate the effects of the corona pandemic is summed up in two terms: The future will be both green and digital. This involves both crisis management and repair activities of society and the economy, but also progress and investments in the future.
Another recurring factor in the reactions of both the Dutch government and the EU is the element of urgency. The additional REACT-EU budget distributed by EFRO must be spent by 2023 at the latest, and the new calls for subsidies are expected to be published in the first two months of the new year. The message from both Kansen voor West and OP Oost is clear: Make sure that good project ideas are ready for a flying start at the beginning of the new year. We are keen to help you prepare your application and explore the possibilities.
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