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REGION DE LA SEMAINE

Extremadura

(24 - 03 - 2014)

Extremadura

Regional Policy Commissioner Johannes Hahn will be visiting the Autonomous Community of Extremadura in Spain on 26 March 2014. He will meet the President of the region, José Antonio Monago, to discuss how Extremadura can make the most of the new cohesion policy for 2014-2020 by specialising in sectors with strong growth potential. He will also visit a very successful agricultural research centre co-financed by the ERDF, Finca La Orden-Valdesequera.

The Autonomous Community of Extremadura is made up of the two largest provinces in Spain, Cáceres and Badajoz, and is home to a total population of 1 109 000 inhabitants. It is notable for substantial biodiversity, particularly as a result of the dehesas, which make it possible to develop agriculture and the agri-food industry on arid land. On the other hand, the region, which is located in southwestern Spain on the border with Portugal, has considerable energy potential, allowing it to produce a positive threshold level of renewable energy.

Moreover, Extremadura has an important cultural and historic heritage, in particular the Roman theatre in Mérida. However, the region also has major challenges to overcome, including a very high rate of unemployment – especially youth unemployment (61.6 % in 2012) – and a production structure overly focused on agricultural activities with low added value.

 

What are the region’s priorities?

During the period 2007-2013, the investment programme for the Extremadura region focused on six main priorities to increase the region’s competitiveness and economic activity:

- Investment in research and development (R&D),

- Investment in information and communication technologies (ICT),

- Development of transport infrastructure to improve the area’s accessibility,

- Optimisation of the management of natural resources, particularly water resources, to preserve the ecosystem,

- Improvement of environmental infrastructure through treatment of waste,

- Preservation of cultural heritage for the development of tourism.

 

How is the European Union contributing?

For the period 2007-2013, the region was the beneficiary of an ERDF investment programme worth EUR 1.6 billion. In order to encourage the region’s development, the European Union has made investments focusing on six priorities and has in particular contributed to increasing competitiveness by encouraging the involvement of the public and private sectors in R&D, increasing the level of use of ICT, developing the traditional agricultural sector towards industrial activities that offer greater added value, promoting cooperation between enterprises and the creation of enterprise networks, encouraging energy efficiency and the use of renewable energy sources (solar energy, heat energy, photovoltaic energy, biomass and wind energy), ensuring sustainable use of natural resources, promoting research to improve the preservation and management of the region’s heritage for a higher-quality tourism sector, and finally improving social infrastructure in the areas of education and health.

For the next programming period, 2014-2020, Extremadura will be the only region in Spain considered to be less developed (with a GDP/inhabitant below 75 % of the EU27 average).

 

Project examples:

Finca La Orden-Valdesequera: ERDF contribution: EUR 2.6 million

The research centre, based on two agricultural properties (La Orden and Valdesequera), carries out research and development in the agricultural sector. The crop types studied are fruits and market garden crops, extensive crops, grazing and forest production. The ERDF financing has made it possible to carry out research projects on agricultural energy crops, to optimise agricultural and livestock production and to improve the conservation of natural resources. More than 410 projects have been carried out, allowing small agricultural enterprises to work with the research centre. 35 highly qualified jobs have been created.

 

State-of-the-art minimally invasive surgery centre: ERDF contribution: EUR 1.6 million

The Jesús Usón Minimally Invasive Surgery Centre (JUMISC) is one of the few centres in the world to combine research and training in minimally invasive surgical techniques. It has around 570 scientific collaborators focused on research, innovation and technological development in the field of social health.

 

PCTEx - Encouraging scientific and technological innovation: ERDF contribution: EUR 10.2 million

The Science and Technology Park of Extremadura, known as PCTEx, was built on two sites at the University of Extremadura, at the Cáceres and Badajoz campuses. The project’s main objectives are to encourage business and industrial research, strengthen development and innovation, and provide a creative space to facilitate interaction between the worlds of science and business in a cutting-edge working environment. This centre of excellence serves as a springboard for economic diversification in Extremadura by contributing to the move from an economy exclusively based on agriculture to a more knowledge-based economy.

 

More information:

Managing authority

Video about ERDF funding in Spain