At the initiative of Barbara Trachte, Secretary of State for Economic Transition, the Brussels Government has adopted the economic development aid reform for Brussels companies on its 1st reading. This reform has a twofold objective: to redirect regional economic support towards socially and environmentally exemplary companies and to simplify such aid in order to make it more understandable and better suited to the needs of entrepreneurs. This reform, which requires a new order, is a major focus of the Brussels Region's economic transition strategy, Shifting Economy.
Nearly 30 million euros of economic development aid granted to companies each year by Brussels Economy & Employment. It is intended to finance companies by awarding investment, consulting, recruitment or training grants... This aid is one of the main regional levers to support entrepreneurship. Every year, it enables about 4,000 companies to start up, transform or expand.
In the General Policy Declaration in July 2019, the Brussels Government committed to aligning the Region's economic objectives with its climate and social objectives. The aim? Total decarbonisation of the Brussels economy by 2050. This reform of the economic development aid is another step in this direction.
It has two major objectives:
THE ECONOMIC TRANSITION
The first objective is to direct regional economic support towards socially and environmentally exemplary business models. The reform therefore aims to support the gradual transformation of Brussels' economic activities so that they contribute to social and environmental challenges and the creation and maintenance of quality jobs for the people of Brussels. In practical terms, two deadlines are included in the future order: increases in aid are planned from 2024 for companies that are exemplary in social or environmental terms. In 2030, only such exemplary companies will have access to aid.
Among the new features of this reform is the creation of new categories of aid to help companies finance their transition. This includes aid for consultancy and aid for investments that save or reuse resources or energy needed in production processes.
Other important innovations include making such aid available to entrepreneurs active in employment cooperatives (Smart, DiES, etc.), i.e. individuals who perform an entrepreneurial activity within a cooperative structure using the business number of this structure. Until now, these entrepreneurs did not have access to aid. Similarly, greater openness is planned for companies in the non-market sector, given their social impact and the number of jobs they generate. They will be able to obtain regional economic aid provided that they are not financed by more than 75% (previously 50%) of public funds and provided that these structures meet the other conditions of the order.
The second objective of the reform is to simplify the schemes by reducing the number of different types of aid from 26 to 17. The reform also aims to make the aid system more understandable, simpler and more in line with the needs of entrepreneurs and regional economic priorities. Thus, in order to improve the understanding of the different schemes, aid will be organised based on the company's development stage (launch, growth, handover, etc.). There is also a plan to remove a number of administrative barriers and strengthen the resources around regional economic priorities such as start-ups, companies or investments that contribute to social and environmental objectives, or the digitalisation of companies.
This reform is expected to come into effect in early 2024 after the order and various decrees have been adopted.
Source: Press release from the Office of the Minister Barbara Trachte