A detailed plan of investments for 2014-2020 worth € 7.89 billion for Lithuania to create employment and growth has been adopted today by the European Commission. The "Operational Programme" combines € 6.7 billion of EU investments and a national contribution of around €1 billion. Johannes Hahn, European Commissioner for Regional Policy, and Lithuania's Minister of Finance, Rimantas Sadzius, attending the high level Cohesion Forum event in Brussels this week, have warmly welcomed the deal today.
The Operational Programme (OP) brings together several key EU investment funds aimed at helping Lithuania's economic development as well as tackling social exclusion, unemployment and vital issues like energy security. It covers the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), Cohesion Fund (CF), European Social Fund (ESF) and the specific allocation for the Youth Employment Initiative (YEI) under the investment for growth and jobs goal in the country. Commissioner Hahn congratulated Lithuania on setting up a national programme which reflects the growth goals of the Europe2020 strategy with a clear emphasis on boosting research and innovation, SME competitiveness and the shift to a low-carbon economy.
Commenting on the adoption, Commissioner Hahn said: "I am very pleased that we have adopted the Lithuanian operational programme today for the 2014-2020 period. I would like to congratulate Lithuania for its determination and commitment to put in place the right conditions for the European Structural and Investment Funds to become a meaningful investment in your country. With some €7.8 billion available from the Operational Programme, today's adoption marks the beginning of implementation of projects on the ground that will create jobs, generate growth and have a lasting impact on the quality of life of Lithuanian people. The new Operational programme embraces the reforms we have introduced for the new period. It is strategically concentrated for example with more than half of investments under the European Regional Development Fund dedicated to business support, research and innovation, information and telecommunication technologies and the low carbon economy."
Minister Rimantas Sadzius commented: "Lithuania made certain of long-term EU investments that will be allocated to the projects increasing economic growth and enhancing job creation. This is crucial also having in mind a difficult geopolitical situation. I am sincerely glad that due to our mutual work with European Commission, we are one of the leading countries the Operational Programme of the EU Structural Funds which has been approved by the European Commission. We have to use the EU assistance in a very responsible way by concentrating on the sectors with the highest value added, namely, research and development, innovations, development of SMEs and energy efficiency. I believe that EU funds will be a great stimulus to the Lithuanian economic development and welfare of the people."
The OP is only the second in the EU to be adopted, following one for Denmark which was finalised on 30 July. It follows the adoption of the Lithuanian Partnership Agreement on 20 June which set the strategic framework for this more detailed plan. Hundreds of other Operational Programmes will follow in other Member States. It sets Lithuania on a path to competitiveness and growth with both essential investment in sustainable infrastructure and a clear shift to a modernised and resource efficient economy.
More than 10 % of the total OP allocations are earmarked to boost research, development and innovation in Lithuania, helping the country reach its national Europe2020 target of 1.9 % of the GDP to be invested in RTD (0.9% in 2011). In particular, the contribution of today's Operational Programme is expected to foster RDI commercialisation and knowledge transfer as well as stimulating private RDI investments.
Similar amounts are dedicated to promoting sustainable and quality employment and supporting labour mobility and boosting the competitiveness and innovation of SMEs.
Almost 14.5 % of the OP funding is aimed at supporting the shift towards a low-carbon economy in all sectors. Together with investments in resource efficiency and infrastructure, these funds will contribute to Lithuania reaching its national Europe2020 target of 23.0 % of energy deriving from renewable energy sources as well as enhancing its security of supply. Support will be aimed in particular at the expansion of renewable energy sources in the production of heat and cogeneration.
In line with the reformed Cohesion Policy for 2014-2020, Lithuania concentrates its funding on a limited number of priorities and focusses its investments on key drivers for competitiveness and growth.