N E W S R E P O R T V A P L A W F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 7
E U – F U N D I N G I N C Y C L I N G
Funding possibility of cycling infrastructure projects in Greece.
Cycling as an alternative form of tourism – create all by yourselves space for the development of cycling and cycling tourism in Greece! *
Have you ever wondered how life would be if most of Greek people or tourists moved by bicycle? The improvement as far as the quality of life, the environment and the health are concerned would be vast. It is common for other European countries, such as France or Holland to promote this lifestyle, providing the appropriate infrastructure, such as cycling roads, special parking places for bicycles and bicycle hire from the Municipality.
Or even Austria that plays an important role in the sector of cycling tourism, emphasizing on the integrated services offered for tourists who travel by bicycle, by the certified hotels (“bike friendly hotels”) or by the refreshment rooms that can be found along the bicycle roads. Cycling routs depend on the combination of exercise and sightseeing.
But why is Greece behind in this field? Due to the limited government funds or/and the small number of the equivalent investments? This obvious answer could change, if there was better informing about the possibility of funding from the European Union.
The EU subsidies can be used to fund a whole range of projects related to cycling, from big infrastructure projects to promotion campaigns, concerning both public institutions and private enterprises related to tourism, hotel units etc. The sectors associated with cycling, and via those cycling projects could be chosen for funding, are especially those of transfer, energy, environment, health, regional development as well as tourism.
[*this article was the subject of the presentation of our office in the information event that was organized on 09.18.2015 by the Commercial Department of the Austrian Embassy (Advantage Austria )in the location of the Greek Tourism Confederation (SETE) where several recognized consultants specialized in cycling tourism were invited to attend.]
Cycling as an alternative form of tourism presents the following characteristics:
• Protection of the natural environment
• Avoidance of usual tourist offers
• Preserving the ecosystem
• Interaction of man with monuments
• Solving the problem of seasonal tourism
The «bike friendly hotels» – Advantages for the hotels and the hoteliers
Examples of Austria, Germany, Italy.
For example in Austria, Germany and Italy, there are already the so-called «bike friendly hotels» (see for example www.italybikehotels.com), where special services are provided to cyclists such as the safekeeping of bicycles, the possibility of them being repaired, the washing and drying of the cycling attire, the special diet for cyclists etc.
In this way, hotels in Greece that wish to accommodate cyclists could obtain special certificate as “bike friendly hotel” and as a result they could widen their clientele, and also extend the accommodation season in their hotels since cyclists prefer cooler season than summer months.
See below two very interesting links for cycling tourism
Information about the financial period of 2007-2013
EU has provided about 600 million euros for cycling actions
Hungary, Poland, Czech Republic and Germany spent more than 100 million euro. Apart from those 4 countries, other countries have benefited too from the EU subsidies aiming at adopting cycling projects.
In the new financial period of 2014-2020, the aim of the European Cycling Federation (ECF) is to have actions, such as (i) the construction of new cycling trails, (ii) the road sign of new cycling lanes, (iii) the basic cycling training for European Citizens. Create yourselves the possibility of a new alternative form of cycling tourism in Greece.
The critical question is how these cycling projects could be funded?
EU subsidies for cycling projects could be achieved either through national programs of member states (e.g. through ESPA) or through programs operated directly by the EU and the EU institutions.
In addition, there could also be private initiatives, for example partnerships of hotel owners, companies of bicycle hire, tourist offices that could fund part of the cost of the bicycle trail layout, the road signs and marketing costs.
What are the programs available in the European Union, during the period of 2014-2020.
EU subsidies are managed on different levels:
Α) European-level programs which are distributed directly via the European Institutions. For example:
The Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) usually funds projects related to Trans- European Transport Networks (TEN-T), therefore a cycling initiative that promotes development of cycling infrastructure can be considered connected to TEN-T.
The Horizon 2020 program aims at supporting novelties and studies into different kind of activities some of which refer to cycling.
The COSME program supports initiatives relevant to enterprises and also to tourism. Cycling projects may promote the competitiveness of cycling related enterprises and cycling tourism at a European level as well.
The LIFE program occupy itself with environment and climate change and as result any action that promote this whole policy is supported from the EU.
The Erasmus+ and Europe for Citizens program is the appropriate mean to support actions that support a wider adoption of the European perception and behavior in total promoting campaigns, events and other «soft» measures.
Β) Transnational and cross-border programs are under the shared management of the EU institutions and the different member states and regions.
Through the cross border INTERREG programs, cooperation between neighbor countries is promoted. In particular, these programs support projects that include the action of authorities and NGOs from two or three neighbor countries. The implementation of cycling activities in general, either infrastructure measures or softer such as common campaigns, can be included in a project that have been adopted by neighbor countries so that to improve their lifestyle.
C) The biggest part of the EU funding, obtained by the different European funds, for cycling actions is managed by National and Region authorities. In particular, the biggest funds are:
The European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) for the regional and urban development,
The European Social Fund (ESF) for the social inclusion and good governance,
The Cohesion Fund (CF) for economic convergence by less-developed regions,
The European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) and
The European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF).
Examples for cycling projects supported by the E.U during the period of 2007-2013
(1) Direct subsidies from the EU institutions
Brenner Pass Bicycle Trail
Due to a major upgrade of the rail line between Austria and Italy, part of the existing railway is no longer required and is being converted into a cycle path. This project was co-financed by TEN-T (DG MOVE).
The PRESTO project looked at building competence in cycling policies in different types of European cities to remove barriers to developing real cycling cultures. Included factsheets, workshops and online training sessions. The project was co-financed by Intelligent Energy Europe (DG ENV).
(2) Subsidies from the European Regional Development Fund and the Cohesion Fund
Bridge of Freedom
Construction of a 1 km cycling bridge and path between Austria and Slovakia at the cost of 5 million Euros. This project was co-financed by Slovak-Austrian Cross-Border Cooperation Program 2007-2013.
MOL Bubi Cycle Hire Scheme, Budapest
The MOL Bubi public bike-sharing scheme is a new mode of public transport in Budapest, which consists of 76 docking stations and 1,100 bicycles.
(3) Subsidies from the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development.
Cycling Without Borders
A joint venture of partners in Luxembourg, Germany and France connecting and promoting existing cycling paths in the regions around the Moselle, the Saar and the Sûre rivers.
Route along the Somme Canal
This two-phase cycling infrastructure project saw approximately 47km of cycling infrastructure built along the historic Somme Canal in the Picardy Region of France.
(4) Subsidies from the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund.
Cycling, fishing and ecotourism in Calarasi County
The Calarasi County Administrative-Territorial Unit in Romania received support to develop four cycling routes (for both road and off-road cyclists) and a fishing circuit to promote the beauty of the Danube.
But how can I apply?
Finally, the most important question that hast to be answered by the interested parties before their applying for funding is “what do you want to achieve?”. To ask for funding is not enough, you ought to have already made a business plan in which there are described the necessary activities, the goals you want to achieve and the cost.
Construction of 100 km of new cycle paths, or
The road sign of new cycling lanes, or
Cycling Training for 100.000 European citizens.
Your project application must fulfill the selection criteria and investment priorities of the competent managing authority, as described in the calls of proposals when published. That body will evaluate your proposal and decide whether to grant funding.
To sum up, EU provides several opportunities for funding and especially such opportunities for funding cycling projects in Greece are positive, but you have to take notice of the application, because such an investment program requires a project that needs specialized legal and technical knowledge.
Note: It is pointed out that the above outline of provisions is suggestive and summarizing and aims at providing a quick update in relation to the legal framework. Any subjection of your company to the above provisions and the conditions of this subjection constitute the object of a more complete analysis for which the provision of specialized legal advice is required.
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