The new EU funding period provides much more money for Lithuanian regions than for Vilnius County, which has already practically caught up with the EU average in terms of purchasing power parity.

‘The flow of EU money to Lithuania’s capital is dwindling,’ says Želvys, Director of the Lithuanian Business Support Agency (LBSA), ‘but the opportunities for EU funding in the rest of Lithuania are growing. The importance of the regions in the new EU funding perspective for 2021−2027 increases significantly. Unlike the previous funding periods, the new one will have two regions: Vilnius, and Western and Central Lithuania. For the first time in the history of EU funding, the latter will have significantly more money than the capital. Of the EUR 750 million earmarked under the Smarter Lithuania priority, as much as EUR 576 million will be allocated to the regions while only EUR 172 million will be allocated to the capital and surrounding municipalities.’

Therefore, representatives of the LBSA have been intensifying their meetings with the community of Western and Central Lithuania since the beginning of the year. The webinars have already been held in Klaipėda, Šiauliai and Telšiai, Alytus, Panevėžys, Marijampolė, Tauragė, Mažeikiai and Kaunas regions. A wide range of interested regional organisations, such as the Chamber of Industry, Commerce and Crafts, Regional Development Councils, the Association of Lithuanian Municipalities and VšĮ Klaipėda ID, have helped to organise meetings with local entrepreneurs and officials responsible for investment.

All regional events started with a briefing on the latest news from the European Commission and the Lithuanian government offices, where EU funding issues are being addressed and the road map for future investments is being drawn. Many questions were asked about the possibilities for one or another economy sector to access funding and about the difficulties faced by regional businesses in accessing EU funds.

Realising that the lack of interesting and good projects can hinder the use of the funds planned for the regions, the LBSA also has plans to advise new applicants from the regions and to contribute to the refinement of the idea and its preparation for the expert evaluation.

The webinars also focused on the Recovery and Resilience Facility (also known as the ‘RRF’), the largest measure for the public sector with a budget of EUR 672.5 billion. In early July, a package of EUR 2.2 billion of this amount was approved for Lithuania.

In the shadow of the pandemic, information on EU funding opportunities has attracted a lot of interest.

‘The meetings with the regional business and government community were really interesting,’ says Mantas Nocius, Advisor of the Project Development and Evaluation Division of the LBSA, who has given presentations at many of the regional events, ‘The active participation and questions asked by the audience that turned into discussions showed that there was a lot of interest in the possibility of using EU funds for the implementation of attractive local projects. We have agreed with practically all the organisers of the regional meetings to keep in touch and to coordinate further meetings to provide up-to-date information on the opportunities for attracting EU investment.’

The LBSA also invites all interested regional organisations to apply to hold meetings. The Agency’s experts are ready to plan a remote seminar or, if possible, to come and talk about the opportunities that the EU Structural Funds can offer to businesses and public authorities in a region.

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