Proposals aim to improve funding for the EU’s regions and focus more on high-impact growth and jobs programmes.
Economic development, productivity and employment opportunities differ widely across the EU.
About a third of the EU’s budget goes on reducing these disparities – helping its least developed regions benefit from the EU market.
Funding is given to programmes with aims such as developing the skills of local workforces, encouraging entrepreneurship, improving infrastructure and protecting the environment. Millions of Europeans have already benefited from targeted regional funds.
EU budget proposals for 2014 to 2020 allocate €376bn to such programmes. The Commission is also proposing a new approach to make this round of funding more effective in achieving the long-term aims of Europe 2020, the EU's growth and jobs strategy.
The proposals aim to concentrate funding on a smaller number of priorities – in line with these goals.
Each country would agree with the Commission on a partnership contract, setting priorities for investment and targets to be achieved.
Funding conditions would be introduced before aid is granted. Better monitoring would ensure programmes meet their agreed objectives.
Additional funding would be available for programmes that deliver the biggest contribution to growth and job creation.
Common rules would be introduced for the various funds targeting social development, rural areas, coastal areas, cooperation between border regions, fisheries, and less developed countries. Programmes would be able to combine support from some of these funds.
Applying for funds would be made simpler – to reduce administrative burdens, particularly for small companies, and cut costs for all concerned.
While all EU countries would benefit from the funding programmes, support would be concentrated on those with a gross domestic product below 75% of the EU average.
The proposals should come into effect in 2014, if they have been approved by national ministers (in the Council of the EU) and the European Parliament in 2012.
Regional representatives will discuss the new proposals from 10 to 13 October at the annual Open Days 2011 in Brussels.