Survey reveals positive attitudes to EU regional policy, but people would like it to take on more ambitious challenges.
The chances are that the EU's regional policy has left its mark on your area. You shouldn't have to look far – it could be a new motorway, railway track or bridge. The policy, accounting for over a third of the EU budget, is responsible for several hundred thousand projects, all aimed at regenerating Europe's regions.
The latest eurobarometer survey reveals that Europeans generally approve of the policy and welcome the difference it makes in their region. Of those aware of the policy, seven out of ten think it has a positive impact.
Unsurprisingly, more people had heard of it in the countries that benefit the most. So, around two-thirds of the respondents from Slovenia (66%), Lithuania (65%) and Ireland (64%) were aware of its existence. Only around one third were aware of it in Bulgaria (35%), Cyprus (35%) and the Netherlands (30%).
Overall, 85% of respondents backed the aim of the policy – to help the most disadvantaged regions and narrow the gap between rich and poor. Currently, the EU's wealthiest member, Luxembourg, is seven times richer than the poorest, Romania. When regions are compared, the gap is even more striking.
With the benefits of regional policy widely recognised, respondents thought it should take on more ambitious challenges, such as climate change, globalisation and Europe's ageing population.
To keep the public up to date with developments at national level, EU countries will soon be required to publish comprehensive lists of the projects that receive regional-policy funding.
The survey of 27 000 Europeans conducted in January is part of a public consultation launched by regional policy commission Danuta Hübner last September on the future of regional policy.