The most frequently asked questions when accessing European aid

The European funds of the Recovery, Transformation and Resilience Plan (PRTR), which is in its first year of operation, are materializing in multiple projects. To date, 28,800 initiatives have been financed, benefiting 2,000 universities and technology centers, more than 5,500 local entities and 19,000 companies, according to government data. After the delivery of 31,000 million euros so far, Spain is preparing to receive another 11,000 million euros at the end of June.

Companies of any size are one of the main recipients of these capital injections. They can access the European Next Generation EU fund through direct non-refundable aid, financing under favorable conditions or through participation in one of the public tenders that the Administrations have launched. Faced with this barrage of opportunities, many companies, especially small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), are asking questions about how to benefit from this European aid. These are the most frequent questions that arise among entrepreneurs.

What kind of transformations are the programs promoting?

European funds aim to promote plans that revolve around one of these four axes:

  • The ecological transition, through initiatives that improve the energy efficiency of Administrations, citizens and companies by promoting the use of clean supply sources, sustainable mobility and the rehabilitation of buildings.
  • The digital transformation, through the promotion of new technologies to move towards a more connected and competitive economy.
  • Territorial and social cohesion, initiatives to relaunch rural areas that have lost population.
  • Gender equality, so that men and women have the same opportunities.

What programs are there for SMEs?

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The PRTR has programs for companies of all sizes and from all sectors, as well as for public administrations and citizens, such as energy efficiency and sustainable mobility, and others specifically for SMEs, such as the Digital Kit Program, which aims to promote the level of digitization of these organizations through instruments and resources that update their processes and their offer.

Loans have also been launched on favorable terms for companies and public tenders to execute new projects from the ministries and the autonomous communities. Fernando Pérez, director of national programs at the consulting firm Zabala Innovation, explains that the Government has placed special interest in ensuring that SMEs have a place in the tenders.

What sectors can access the programs?

Plans have been launched from which companies of any economic activity can benefit, but there are also sectoral plans. The Government is encompassing them in roadmaps that it has called strategic projects for economic recovery and transformation (PERTE).

These programs are mechanisms for coordination and promotion of initiatives in key sectors for the Spanish economy that involve the Administrations and other public institutions, in addition to the companies that want to join. So far, 11 have been approved, covering areas such as mobility —PERTE for the development of electric and connected vehicles—, agriculture —PERTE Agrifood— and the manufacture of digital equipment—PERTE for microelectronics and semiconductors—.

Within these strategic projects are included the PRTR initiatives that involve specific sectors. In the case of the PERTE of the electric vehicle, Plan Moves III is included, which finances the purchase of electric vehicles, plug-in hybrids and fuel cells —which run on hydrogen—, as well as recharging points. The Agrifood PERTE includes the Plan to Promote Sustainability and Competitiveness in Agriculture and Livestock, which offers aid to automate processes and manage livestock waste, among other actions.

Are the programs available throughout the territory?

The PRTR proposes plans for the entire territory, but given the specific characteristics of the economy in each autonomous community and its different needs, local initiatives have also been launched that are managed by regional governments and town councils.

This is the case of the subsidies for the employment and productive transformation of the self-employed and micro-enterprises towards the green and digital economy through training activated by the Comunidad Foral de Navarra, for example, and the second chance program that provides tools for self-employed workers to start a business project. The latter has only been launched in the Balearic Islands.

This community, together with the Canary Islands, are two of the regions in which, according to the PRTR, special emphasis will be placed on transforming its tourist offer through digitization and energy efficiency.

Companies located in municipalities with a demographic challenge (those with less than 5,000 inhabitants) also have plans to stimulate sustainability in rural construction (PREE 5000 Program) or support clean energy initiatives for public infrastructures (DUS 5000 Program).

Is professional advice important?

When applying for European funds, each company has the possibility of processing aid, access to financing or submitting tenders by their own means. But it is advisable to have the professional advice offered by banks and consultants to apply for European aid. “The bases of the programs are complex, with very technical terminology and many requirements to meet, in addition to having to deliver the documentation quickly from the time the call is published. For this reason, either they have the muscle to hire specialized personnel or it is advisable that they resort to external help”, Pérez highlights.

This expert points out that advice begins even before the company decides on the aid it is going to opt for. Banking entities help SMEs and the self-employed to identify the European aid that best suits their business and accompany them throughout the process, since they require the delivery of periodic receipts and reports, sometimes, to various bodies. In this way, they will be able to access the programs that will allow them to improve their competitiveness in order to grow and consolidate.

Strategic projects for economic recovery and transformation (PERTE)

Development of the electric and connected vehicle

Promote the development and manufacture of electric and connected vehicles.

state of the art health

Improve the health of the population through diagnostic, therapeutic and preventive innovation.

Renewable energies, renewable hydrogen and storage

Promote the development of renewable energies, electronics, storage and renewable hydrogen.

agri-food

Stimulate digitization, sustainability and competitiveness in this sector.

new language economy

Develop the opportunities presented by Spanish and the co-official languages ​​as assets that drive the economy through artificial intelligence and science, the learning of Spanish in the world and language tourism.

circular economy

Create a sustainable, decarbonized and efficient economy in the use of resources with actions in the textile, plastic and renewable industry sectors.

Naval industry

Diversify the naval sector towards new products, their digitization, the improvement of their sustainability and the training of their employees.

Aerospace

Improve and generate technological and industrial capacities in the sector, as well as advance in a better strategic positioning.

Digitization of the water cycle

Modernize water management systems by digitizing them to enhance planning with massive data analysis.

Microelectronics and semiconductors

Promote and attract investments around the semiconductor industry, necessary for the development of technology that enables the digitalization of industries.

Social and care economy

Consolidate alliances between research centers, organizations, cooperatives and entities that work in this form of more supportive and care economy.

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