Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Programme funding

EUR 500 million

Official Journal Reference

C 180 of 1994-07-01
To promote the diversification of economic activities in the regions most heavily dependent on the defence sector or military bases by creating complementary economic activities, including encouraging the development of SMEs, financing the training or retraining of those being made redundant in the defence sector, preserving the technological potential of these regions, the environmental regeneration of military sites and bases and their reuse of infrastructures for civilian purposes and, in general terms, supporting any measure likely to help economic conversion in the areas in question.

Abstract

Following the significant cuts in defence budgets brought about by the end of the Cold War, the European Parliament established special measures under Perifra I and II (1991 and 1992 respectively) to assist the conversion of areas heavily dependent on the defence industry. The Perifra measures were replaced in 1993 by the KONVER initiative. A budget of ECU 130 million was made available for the 12 month period, to be distributed in regions hit by a decline in the defence sector. Due to the continued decline in the defence industry, and the need to preserve a technological and high-level R&D potential to ensure the future competitiveness of the regions concerned, it has been decided to develop the KONVER initiative as a multi-annual Community initiative lasting to the end of 1997.

Of the ECU 130 million allocated to KONVER activities in 1993, almost ECU 100 million was provided by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) with the remainder being allocated by the European Social Fund (ESF). The appropriations were allocated to the Member States according to the proportion of workers involved in defence-related activities. The main beneficiaries were: Germany (ECU 38.2 million), France (ECU 32.63 million), the United Kingdom (ECU 23.15 million) and Italy (ECU 17.88 million).

The measures to be pursued under KONVER are broadly similar to those contained in the other Community initiatives aimed at assisting the conversion process in regions economically dependent on industries in crisis. KONVER places a special emphasis on the transfer of technology, R&D cooperation networks, exchanges of experience, training and retraining activities.

Subdivision

- Improving know-how by providing businesses with aid to pay for advisory services and the equipment (excluding production machinery) to put the advice into practice, in the fields of design, quality control, computer-aided manufacturing and planning, marketing and internal business organization, and the health and safety of the workforce;

- Aid for the formation of local associations of businesses and other cooperation schemes for the purpose of:
. Improving know-how in the fields mentioned above;
. Accelerating the spread of innovative production methods and new forms of business organization;
. Cooperation between companies and research centres, universities, technology transfer centres and training centres;
. Marketing and diversification of products;
. Strengthening links between firms and their suppliers and customers in order to meet new requirements for flexibility and quality;
. Improving information on market trends in association with schemes to support design, quality and marketing;
. Creating networks of contacts elsewhere in the same Member State and the rest of the Community in connection with the above measures;

- Establishment of a team to provide ideas and advice coordinated with aid schemes to sectors which comprise large numbers of SMEs in the form of internal audits of firms, awareness of their changing environment, and assistance in the implementation of their modernization plans;

- Vocational training schemes for staff of businesses, associations of businesses and providers of joint services based in the regions concerned, and for staff in firms or in military installations faced with redundancy or already unemployed;

- Environmental improvements and regeneration of military sites and areas seriously damaged by military activity;

- Promotion of alternative economic activities, with an emphasis on the creation or development of SMEs;

- Feasibility studies and conversion strategies;

- Renovation and modernization of social and economic infrastructure in defence areas;

- Assistance for the promotion of tourism;

- Measures to encourage greater employment of women, taking account of their special training needs.

Implementation

Operational programmes under the KONVER initiative are jointly financed by the Member States and the Community. The Community's financial contribution to KONVER up to the end of 1997 is estimated at ECU 500 million at 1994 prices. Loans from the resources of the European Investment Bank (EIB) may also be made available.

The Commission is responsible for drawing up and publishing a list of areas eligible for Community assistance under KONVER. The Member States may propose regions which meet the criteria relating to a minimum number of job losses in the defence sector and, in a limited number of cases, other areas providing that the area in question has a high dependence on defence activities and taking account of other factors such as high unemployment, environmental degradation, isolation or peripherality. A maximum of 50% of the total Community contribution made available under KONVER may be spent in areas which do not have Objective 1, 2 or 5(b) status.

Member States having eligible areas in the list published by the Commission were required to submit detailed proposals for operational programmes or global grants to the Commission before 1 November 1994.

The Member States' proposals were to include an appreciation of the situation indicating the objectives to be attained, along with a timetable, criteria and procedures for implementation, monitoring and assessment. During and at the end of the planning period, the Commission will evaluate, in partnership with the Member States concerned, the results of the programmes submitted. The European Parliament, the Management Committee on the Community initiatives and the monitoring committees will be informed of the results of such evaluations and the action taken in response to them.

Cooperation between beneficiaries will be encouraged both within and between the Member States to foster the exchange of experience, the dissemination of best practice, joint operations and comparative evaluations. The Commission urges Member States to take account of this aim in both the preparation and subsequent management of the programmes.

Remarks

KONVER II was established by a Decision of the Commission of the European Communities, meeting on 15 June 1994, in accordance with the provisions of the Regulations governing the Structural Funds.
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