15 years of EU funds

Article written by Darren Grasso – Director, EU Funding
Published on Malta Today – 17.04.19

May 1 marks the 15th anniversary of Malta’s accession to the EU.

EU membership brought about a number of changes to the quality of life of Maltese citizens. Fifteen years ago we could not use the same currency when travelling to other EU countries. We could not use a European health card that gives us access to healthcare during a temporary stay in an EU Member State, as well as Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. We may also not have been able to implement certain projects such as the restoration of iconic and historical buildings and impement other infrastructural projects.

EU membership helped improve almost every aspect of Maltese life, from work, travel and shopping, to the quality of our environment, our learning opportunities and the way our businesses buy and sell their goods and services.

These changes are now so much part of everyday life that we can thankfully take them for granted.

As a member of the EU, Malta has experienced significant changes, partially due to EU funds.

The EU provides funding for a broad range of projects covering areas such as regional and urban development; employment and social inclusion; research and innovation.

The ultimate scope of EU funding is to better the lives of EU citizens through projects that can be implemented by various entities, including non-governmental organisations; local councils; and government bodies.

Let’s take a look at some of the ways EU funding helped improve our way of life.

Education and training
EU funding has created great educational opportunities for young people through Erasmus+, the EU’s programme for education, training, youth and sport.

Through Erasmus+, many local organisations were provided an opportunity to target important issues, such as female participation in sport and supported employment for persons with a disability. A case in point is the project entitled ‘Train – Improve – Deliver’, which was implemented by the Malta Federation of Organisations Persons with Disability (MFOPD) and which focused on the provision of a job shadowing experience in the field of supported employment to volunteers of the MFOPD.

Erasmus+ is also providing schools with various opportunities, enabling them to participate in mobility opportunities for students and teachers. By organising mobility activities for students, these partnerships also promote the common values of freedom, inclusion, tolerance and non-discrimination as underlined in the Paris Declaration of March 2015.

Agriculture
In the sector of agriculture, EU funds have helped farmers improve their efficiency through infrastructural investments. To cite an example, the Sannat Local Council in Gozo garnered funds to resurface a number of rural roads within the locality with asphalt. Better road transportation will enable farmers to better manage their land and this will ultimately impact the local economy. The majority of economic activities depend in one way or the other on road transport. This is why such a project was needed to improve road transport for local farmers. Farmers are particularly dependent on roads to transport their products to markets or food processing centres.

In addition, there were also other local councils that implemented similar projects, such as those of Siġġiewi and Għasri.

Combatting Fraud
EU funds also assisted local authorities to support actions to combat irregularities, fraud and corruption affecting the EU budget. In fact, through a project with a budget of slightly more than €500,000, the Malta Customs Department set up a Canine Section and purchased IT software for handling of intelligence. Through such a project, the Customs Department is now more equipped with the necessary tools to combat the illegal importation, exportation and transhipment of illicit goods together with the inherent tax evasion consequential to such illegal activities.

MEUSAC’s support in the EU funding process
Set up in 2008, MEUSAC played a crucial role in Malta’s success within the EU as it supports local organisations to plan their projects and submit the necessary documentation for funding. In fact, MEUSAC has provided assistance to all entities and organisations that have implemented the above-mentioned projects.

In the past 10 years, MEUSAC assisted 419 organisations to benefit from over €49 million in EU funds to implement their projects. Our aim is to continue to build on lessons learnt and to ensure that local organisations are well placed to secure EU funds for their projects.

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