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Regional policy – money well spent - 14/02/2008

Aerial view of barrage dam under construction

€41bn allocated to regional economic development in the EU led to real progress as a record amount was spent on development projects in 2007.

The EU devotes over 35% of its total annual budget to a range of regional policy objectives including

  • promoting growth-enhancing conditions to bring infrastructure and living standards in the least-developed EU countries and regions closer to that in other EU countries
  • boosting competitiveness and creating jobs
  • improving cooperation across borders and between regions.

The total amount available for these objectives from 2000 to 2006 comes to €223 billion. Countries have to put in place audits, budgets and other mechanisms to guarantee the money is spent wisely. Every year the commission evaluates how these "cohesion budgets" are spent, in its regional policy review.

2007 was the first year of the new funding cycle. “We have adopted over 400 programmes for 2007-13 thanks to our successful partnership with member states” explained commissioner Hübner. “Now the challenge is to keep up that momentum”.

Once a 6-year programme gets the green light, the national and regional authorities have to select and monitor the many projects putting it into effect.

EU regional policy in 2007 made a huge difference to the new member countries, which lost no time in using the structural funds to best advantage.

The EU hopes its "cohesion policy" will make it an area of high growth and full employment and is backing this with a budget of over €347bn for 2007-13.

More on structural funds management

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