Omnibus passed – administration to resume for suspended payment requests
On 16 July 2018, the Council of the EU adopted an amended omnibus regulation that lays down the conditions for drawing support from EU funds. The omnibus promises an overall simplification of the system of support. It constitutes a positive step for support applicants and will affect projects already in the implementation stage, as well as future ones.
In the fall of 2017, applicants for support within the Energy Savings Programme (Priority Axis 3) were notified that the administration of their requests for payment was to be suspended on the grounds of a possible application of Article 61 of Regulation (EU) No 1303/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 December 2013. The article defines net revenues generated by a project as the positive difference between operating revenues and expenses, and stipulates that projects whose total eligible costs exceed EUR 1 000 000 and that achieve certain level of profitability shall not be entitled to support, or only to a very limited extent. This information brought uncertainty for the applicants as to the supportability of projects already running; an omnibus regulation being debated at the time was seen as a possible solution.
Among other things, the omnibus simplifies the system of inspections by relevant authorities, and emphasises better availability and transparency of support, greater flexibility, and easier administration of applications for support from EU funds. The omnibus was published on Monday, 30 July 2018 and entered into effect on 2 August 2018.
The passed omnibus regulation means a breakthrough in the application of Article 61, changing both its wording and the scope of its applicability to selected projects. For projects falling under the legislation regulating state aid, it should be possible not to apply Article 61 at all, meaning that the support should not be limited by this provision. Furthermore, the definition of net revenues has been modified for projects aiming to increase energy efficiency.
It should be possible to apply the omnibus to both new and on-going projects, i.e. projects in the assessment stage waiting to be recommended for support, as well as projects already selected for support and that have entered the implementation stage. Applicants should be contacted by their project managers for further steps.
Support under the Energy Savings Programme is still available also for large enterprises. Two calls are currently open to support energy saving measures. The level of support is 30% or 60%, depending on the type of supported activity, with support amounting up to CZK 400 million per one project. Both calls will remain open through 2018, and a total of up to CZK 6 billion should be allocated. The minimum number of points needed by a project to succeed has also been reduced, making it easier to obtain support for planned investments in energy saving measures. We will be happy to provide you with more information in this area, should you be interested.