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(17 - 12 - 2012)


Commissioner for Regional Policy Johannes Hahn is travelling to the Spanish region Murcia on 16-17 December where he will meet with Ramon Luis Valcárcel Siso, the President of the region since 1995 and of the Committee of the Regions of the European Union since 2012. The Commissioner will visit the city of Lorca, which was hit by two earthquakes in May 2011. The Commission decided that the earthquake qualified as an extraordinary regional disaster and granted € 21 million in aid from the EU Solidarity Fund. He will also visit other EU co-founded projects.

Murcia won the European Entrepreneurial Region (EER) award in 2011. This award is recognition to the regions which are developing plans for fostering entrepreneurship, stimulating the establishment of innovative and creative regional economic development and creating jobs.

On 11 May 2011 the historic town of Lorca was hit by two earthquakes. The earthquake caused 9 fatalities. Several buildings were fully or partially collapsed and there was lots of damage in the city, especially historic buildings. In July 2012 EUR 21 million of European Union Solidarity Fund was paid out to Murcia for the repair of essential infrastructures (roads, rail, health, water) and for the needs of the population (provisional accommodation, assistance to population, security).

How does EU regional policy contribute?

For the period 2007-2013, the overall budget of the Programme allocated to the Murcia region amounts to approximately € 655 million. The European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) investment of some €524 million corresponds to about 2.27% of the ERDF financial package to be invested in Spain in the period 2007-13.

The Programme aims to support the regional science-technology-enterprise system by investing in Research & Development (R&D) infrastructures and projects in organisations and enterprises directly involved in this field. The region expects to increase its R&D effort from the current 0.74% to 1.48% by 2013.

Furthermore, the use of Information Society infrastructures and services is encouraged, with the percentage of frequent Internet users expected to rise from the current 44% to 70% by 2013.

Innovation and entrepreneurial spirit among businesses across all economic sectors are also priority. The region's innovation effort is expected to increase from the current 0.57% to 1.04% by 2013.

Finally the Programme also looks to co-finance projects boosting renewable energy in the region with ambitious targets in terms of energy savings and replacing polluting energy sources. Focus is the protection of natural areas and regional biodiversity with a further 3 200 hectares being designated as NATURA 2000 areas - EU-wide network of nature protection areas. More than 1.5 million people will benefit from water distribution projects.

Project examples

  • Project SME+i: ERDF contribution EUR 1.280.000

    This project aims at helping those small enterprises with little or no experience in Research, Development and Innovation (R&D&I) in taking their first steps in this field in order to increase the number of innovative companies in Murcia. A catalogue listing 28 innovation services in 5 areas (service area of innovation in the management and organization, training services for innovation, financing services to R&D&I, service of technological innovation, legal and tax services) is available, as well as a list of accredited suppliers able to provide such services. An economic incentive called "innovation check" funds 85 % of the cost of the service. 10 innovation managers visit the businesses using the service to identify potential projects in R&D&I and provide assistance. In 2010, 225 companies already belong to this network.

  • Network of nature classrooms: ERDF contribution EUR 2.255.719

    The Network of Nature Classrooms is a program for both schools and the general public which aims at raising awareness for environment protection and conservation. Workshops -visits to natural areas, itineraries and activities for the environment and environmental education workshops- are organised, teaching seminars dedicated to Environmental Education with audiovisual support take place in schools. In addition to its standing offer, Classroom Network works with institutions on the organisation of events on the occasion of world celebration days related to environment protection. The classrooms have received a total of 28 787 participants by now.

  • Roman Museum of Cartagena: ERDF contribution EUR 4.9 million

    This Museum will be visited by Commissioner Hahn. It exhibits items discovered in excavations in the area of the Roman Theatre in Cartagena, built between the 5th and 1st centuries BC. The museum is part of an integral that comprises the restoration of part of the city of Cartagena and its Roman Theatre, which had remained hidden for several centuries. The museum is divided between two buildings and contains archaeological items accompanied by panels explaining the Theatre's restoration, permanent and temporary exhibitions, as well as archive and study rooms. The theatre has capacity for 6,000 people and played an important role at the time of Ancient Rome. It is part of a wider urban EU co- financed integrated project called "Cartagena – Port of culture".

Murcia is an autonomous community of Spain located in the southeast of the country on the Mediterranean coast. The community measures 11,313 km² and has a population of 1.4 million. The region is a major producer of fruits, vegetables, and flowers for Spain and the rest of Europe. Its GDP per capita in 2009 is 12.8% lower than the EU average.

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