Sinn Féin Waterside Councillor Bridget Meehan hosted an event on Friday for Waterside-based businesses and community groups to hear about potential EU Funding opportunities and how these might be accessed. MEP Martina Anderson spoke at the event and talked the audience through her newly launched ‘Gateway to EU Funding’ booklet.
Councillor Meehan said
“Since becoming MEP, Martina has worked hard to bring Europe closer to us in the North. The EU can seem distant, daunting, inaccessible and irrelevant. However, the directives and laws passed in Europe directly impact on our day-to-day lives so Europe is certainly not irrelevant and it would be a mistake therefore keep it at a distance. With Martina’s new booklet, Sinn Féin has tried to bring Europe closer and to make it more accessible for us all.
There is a wide range of funding streams available in Europe. Apart from the more commonly known structural funds such as PEACE, INTERREG and the Rural Development Fund, there is a plethora of lesser known competitive funds such as Horizon 2020, COSME, Creative Europe and Health for Growth. These offer funding for countless areas of interest including research and development, innovation, regional development, community cohesiveness, local economic development, entrepreneurship, business competiveness, the promotion of rights, environmental sustainability, climate change, youth training and education, culture, creativity, health promotion and e-health. It is safe to say that in whatever area your organisation might need funding, Europe most likely has a funding stream that is appropriate. The key is to identify the appropriate stream and then attain the assistance and support necessary to submit an application.
Traditionally, outside of PEACE funding, the North has a poor track record when it comes to drawing down EU funding. In her time as a Junior Minister, Martina recognised this weakness and along with MLA Maeve McLaughlin, lobbied successfully to secure an EU Unit in Derry City Council. This Unit is a resource for any group or business that is looking to Europe for funding.
The North also has access to the Barusso Taskforce which is made up of officials from the Executive who are based in Europe and who will be available for the next two years to help organisations from the North secure funding from Europe. This Taskforce is unique to us and was secured through the office of the deputy First Minister, Martin McGuinness.
In addition, specifically for the EU Horizon 2020 funding stream, the North now has in place, for the first time, a dedicated team of people who are available to give specialised support to any organisation wishing to submit an application to Horizon 2020.
Never before has there been so much support for organisations seeking funding from Europe. These supports have been hard-won and shouldn’t be ignored or taken for granted. I would urge local businesses and community groups in the City to take full advantage of these supports so that the North can finally start securing its share of EU funding.