RegioStars awards: the EU recognises the most original and innovative regional projects.
A Swedish microfinance institute helping migrant women to set up their own business and a German tele-medicine project are two of the six prize-winners in the 2010 round of RegioStars awards. The winners received their crystal trophy from Johannes Hahn, regional policy commissioner (See the full list of prize-winners).
Since 2008, the annual RegioStars awards recogise the best projects financed by the EU regional policy, which aims to even out development across the EU. All EU regions are invited to enter projects cofinanced by the European development fund, European social fund or the cohesion fund. 87 projets were entered this year.
Between 2007 and 2013, the EU will spend €308bn on regional policy, making this its second largest expense after the common agricultural policy. While over 80% of this amount will go to the regions in greatest need, all regions can benefit from European support to improve their competitivity and attractiveness.
Support is offered through three funds. The cohesion fund is aimed at EU countries with a GDP per capita less than 90% of the EU average (mainly the countries which most recently joined the EU). It finances projects focusing on transport and the environment. The European social fund finances vocational training, job creation and labour market integration. This is the fund behind the Lithuanian initiative to teach computer literacy basics to adults, another RegioStars award winner. Finally, measures funded by the European regional development fund (ERDF) include transport infrastructure, small businesses, research, education and culture. Another winner, a Belgian project focusing on the innovative reuse of a former mining area, received €3.2m from the ERDF.
By recognising the best regional projects, the competition aims to encourage other regions to take innovative initiatives with the help of European funding. Entries for the 2011 RegioStars awards can already be submitted (deadline 16 July).