What are the opportunities offered by EU funds? | Horrach Estarellas, Gabriel

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Something that irritates me - Restaurant X by Person Y; Hotel A by Company B; Sports Tournament C by Organisation D. It’s the “by” that gets me, and it has ever since this by word first appeared. It’s all marketing. Kudos is added by being by. The one providing the by can elevate his or her status, simply through a by. You will never have heard of this person, but by placing the preposition by in front of the name, he or she automatically becomes someone of significance, even if he or she is not.

There are different qualifications for being by. One is merely a tag for association. Another presupposes greater support. By is sponsorship, by is funding. The by is thus a short form of expressing eternal gratitude for someone or some entity having forked out substantial amounts of cash. But it avoids stating overtly this gratitude, as to do so would make you - the recipient - appear to be hugely reliant on this largesse. Which will in fact be the case.

It would never be declared openly and nor would by ever be used, but visitors to Mallorca journeying from Son Sant Joan at the start of their holidays could easily be presented with roadside billboards announcing “Mallorca by Ursula von der Leyen”. Not her personally, but her commission.

“A once in a lifetime chance to emerge stronger from the pandemic, transform our economies, create opportunities and jobs for the Europe where we want to live. We have the vision, we have the plan, and we have agreed to invest together 806.9 billion euros.” The Next Generation EU is funding the Next Generation, and everyone is extremely grateful, including Majorca by Ursula.

It helps greatly that Majorca is pretty much on the same page as Brussels in its vision for part of the next generation - the one as far as 2030, the year marked as Agenda for sustainability. The plan for strategic investments in the Balearics 2030 will involve investing 4,640 million euros - “The plan for strategic investments in the Balearics 2030 by the European Commission”.

The buzz words for next generation investment are the same in Brussels and in Palma. Sustainability, digitalisation, green, innovative. And Palma has won green brownie points in Brussels through the project for green hydrogen energy at the old cement plant in Lloseta. Ursula has described this as “a great example” of tackling climate change. The Balearic minister for energy transition, Juan Pedro Yllanes, has thanked Ursula. “Very proud that our work is being recognised by Europe.” Proud indeed. Maybe it will lead to a top-up on the 4,640 million.

Economic stimulus was unquestionably necessary because of the havoc caused by the pandemic, but the once in a lifetime chance is like all Majorca’s Christmases arriving at once - or for as long as the Next Generation funds are funnelled into the Balearic government’s bank account via Madrid. Forget miserly projects funded by the pittance (by comparison) raised by the tourist tax. The lifetime opportunity is for mega sustainability.

So great is the opportunity that Francina Armengol felt it necessary to appoint a minister with a specific portfolio for Euro funds. Ninety-one projects, such as the Palma tram, have so far been earmarked in the Next Generation category, the minister, Miquel Company, having assured one and all that project decisions will be consensual.

Yes, they said that about the tourist tax as well, and so the opposition Partido Popular are having none of the consensual spin. The plan for strategic investments in the Balearics 2030 by the European Commission is being determined unilaterally, the PP say. There should be a “common strategy”.

As there doesn’t appear to be a common and consensual strategy, a risk lies ahead - one of a change of government in 2023. A PP-led administration certainly wouldn’t turn its nose up at the Euro funds, but it is likely to have different ideas. And there will be no shortage of suggestions, as it is already the case that proposals for Next Generation funds crop up on a daily basis. Everyone loves Brussels for having baked the pie, and now everyone wants a piece of it.

The latest collective to bid is the audiovisual industry. Filming is enjoying a high profile right now, but this disguises a problem. The island is for hire. Island companies are for hire. The industry risks being Netflixed-out, only good for serving foreign production teams who briefly drop in and then swiftly leave. Investment is needed in promoting the local industry - “Mallorca film by Mallorca” and not “Mallorca film by The Crown (other productions do apply)”.

It is not all about the marketing. It is all about being super-strategic and investing with wisdom. Will this be the case? So many proposals, so little consensus (apparently). But once in a lifetime, so for God’s sake don’t screw up. “Mallorca by the Next Generation” and really for the next generation.