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The nomenclature of territorial units for statistics (NUTS) was created by the European Office for Statistics (Eurostat) in order to create a single and coherent structure of territorial distribution. It has been used in the Community legislation pertaining to the Structural Funds since 1988.

The current nomenclature subdivides the 15 countries of the European Union into:

  • 78 NUTS level 1 territorial units: the German Länder, regions in Belgium, Denmark, Sweden, Ireland, Wales and Scotland, the areas included in the spatial planning study ZEAT in France, and other large regions.
  • 210 NUTS level 2 territorial units: the autonomous regions in Spain, French regions and overseas departments (DOM), the Belgian and Dutch provinces, the Italian regions, the Austrian Länder, the German 'Regierungsbezirke' (primary administrative sub-division of a Länd) etc.
  • 1093 NUTS level 3 territorial units: the Nomoi in Greecee, the Maakunnat in Finland, the Län in Sweden, the Kreise in German, the French departments, and the Spanish and Italian provinces etc.

Eligibility for Objective 1 is principally defined with reference to NUTS level 2; Objective 2 areas are generally defined with reference to NUTS level 3.

A publication presenting all the NUTS units in the 15 Member States "Regions Nomenclature of territorial units for statistics - NUTS" can be ordered directly on the Eurostat site.

Inforegio: Territorial units for statistics


Operational programme :
It means the document approuved by the Commission to implement a Community support framework and comprising a consistent set of priorities comprising multiannual measures and wich may be implemented through recourse to one or more Funds, to one or more of the other existing financial instruments and to the EIB. An integrated operational programme means an operational programme financed by more than one Fund.
Outermost regions:
There are seven "outermost regions": Guadeloupe, French Guiana, Martinique, Réunion (the four French overseas departments referred to in Article 299(2) of the EC Treaty), the Azores, the Canaries and Madeira. They are the subject of a Declaration annexed to the Treaty.
The Declaration acknowledges that these regions suffer from major structural backwardness and states that, while the provisions of the EC Treaty and secondary legislation automatically apply, it is nonetheless possible to adopt specific measures to assist them as long as there is a real objective need for such measures to promote their economic and social development.
Article 299(2) has been amended by the Treaty of Amsterdam to enable the Council, acting by a qualified majority, to adopt specific decisions laying down conditions for applying the Treaty, including the common policies, to the outermost regions. In so doing, the Council has to ensure that the integrity and coherence of the Community legal order is not undermined.

Own resources:
Own resources are the tax revenue allocated to the European Union to finance its expenditure, which must not exceed the current ceiling of 1.27% of Community GNP. Originally, the Community budget depended on the Member States' financial contributions. However, a decision was adopted on 21 April 1970 giving it financial autonomy, and since 1 January 1978, the Community budget has been entirely financed by own resources. These are currently made up of four elements:
· agricultural duties and the sugar and isoglucose levies; these consist mainly of the agricultural duties and, under the common organisation of the sugar markets, production and storage levies;
· customs duties: these come from the application of the common customs tariff to imports from third countries;
· the VAT resource: this comes from the application of a flat rate to the VAT base of each Member State (in 1999, this flat rate will be 1%, to be collected on a base which may not exceed 50% of GNP);
· the 'fourth resource': introduced in 1988, this is a so-called additional resource, because it is set according to the other three sources of budget revenue. It is based on GNP and the application of a rate, set under the budget procedure, to the total GNP of all the Member States.
In 1999, the forecast revenue of the European Union came to EUR 86 million, of which about 48.1% came from the GNP resource, 35.2% from the VAT resource, 13.8% from customs duties and 2.2% from agricultural levies.


One of the Structural Funds' principles which implies the closest possible cooperation between the Commission and the appropriate authorities at national, regional or local level in each Member State from the preparatory stage to implementation of the measures.

Paying authority:
It means one or more national, regional or local authorities or bodies designated by the Member Statefor the purposes of drawing up and submitting payments applications and receiving payments from the Commission. The Member State shall determine all the modalities of its relationship with the paying authority and of the latter's relationship with th Commission.

The Phare programme was launched in 1989 following the collapse of the communist regimes in central and eastern Europe. It is intended to help these countries reconstruct their economies. Originally, it affected only Poland and Hungary but it has gradually been extended to cover thirteen central and eastern European countries today (Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia).

For the period 1995-99, funding under Phare totalled roughly EUR 6.7 billion and covered fifteen sectors, the main five of which were:

  • infrastructure (energy, transport, telecommunication);
  • development of the private sector and assistance for businesses;
  • education, training and research;
  • environmental protection and nuclear safety;
  • agricultural restructuring.

At the same time, Phare is the main financial instrument for the pre-accession strategy for the ten central and eastern European countries (CEECs) which have applied for membership of the European Union. Since 1994, Phare's tasks have been adapted to the priorities and needs of each CEEC.

The revamped Phare programme with a budget of over EUR 10 billion for the period 2000-2006 now has two specific priorities, namely:

  • institution building
  • financing investments.

Following the proposals put forward by the Commission in its Agenda 2000 communication in July 1997, new forms of pre-accession aid have been added to that already provided by Phare. These are:

  • structural measures to bring the level of environmental protection and of transport infrastructure development in the applicant countries closer to that of the European Union (Ispa)
  • aid to agriculture (Sapard).

Pre-accession aid:
Enormous investment is required if the applicant countries are to adapt their standards, especially their industrial and environmental norms, in order to be able to comply with Community legislation when the join the Union. The pre-accession aid planned for the period 2000-2006 for the countries of central and eastern Europe is a key element of the European Union's strategy towards the applicants and involves two main components:

  • the Phare programme finances the projects needed to adapt the applicant countries' administrative and legal systems and to develop their infrastructure (EUR 10.5 billion);
  • two assistance funds are being set up to manage additional aid for agriculture (Sapard - EUR 3.5 billion) and infrastructure, especially in the fields of the environment and transport (EUR 7 billion). The fund devoted to infrastructure development is the 'structural pre-accession instrument', which will play the same role for the applicant countries as the Cohesion Fund does for Spain, Portugal, Greece and Ireland.

The accession partnership concluded in 1998 with each of the ten applicant countries of central and eastern Europe constitutes the main thrust of the pre-accession strategy and serves as the channel for the various types of aid.

Cyprus is not covered by the Phare programme and therefore comes under different arrangements. A financial protocol awarded it total assistance of EUR 72 million for the period 1996-2000.

Pre-accession strategy:
In 1989, the European Commission put in place a financial assistance programme intended to facilitate the economic and political transition of the countries of central and eastern Europe (Phare programme). In 1991, the first association agreements (so-called Europe Agreements) were signed by the European Community and the countries of central and eastern Europe. Interim agreements were put in place in order to immediately start to set up a free trade area. Although restrictions remained for agricultural and iron and steel products, the free movement of goods is now a reality for 26 European countries.
On the basis of the Europe Agreements, in 1993 the Commission proposed the organisation of a 'structured dialogue' between the associated countries and the institutions of the Union in the form of meetings where the different partners could consult each other.
In December 1994, the Essen European Council adopted a pre-accession strategy based on:

  • deepening relations between the associated countries and the institutions of the Union (strengthening the structured dialogue at the level of parliament and the government);
  • development of Europe Agreements;
  • adaptation of the financial assistance provided by Phare;
  • preparation for integration into the internal market;

Starting from the Madrid European Council (December 1995), questions began to be raised about the repercussions of enlargement on Community policies, particularly on the common agricultural policy, the structural policies and the Union's financial perspective after 1999. 'Agenda 2000', presented by the Commission in July 1997, proposed reforms relating to these three crucial subjects for the future of the European Union.
In parallel with this debate, new instruments were created to support the applicant countries in their preparation for accession, in both financial and legislative terms. In 1998, accession partnerships for each of the ten countries of central and eastern Europe were launched.
For Cyprus, a special pre-accession strategy was put in place:

  • participation in targeted action in order to strengthen its administrative and institutional capacity and to act in the field of justice and home affairs;
  • participation in certain programmes and Community agencies (like all the applicant countries);
  • use of the TAIEX technical assistance office to help it to adapt its legislation to Community rules.

One of the Structural Funds' principles which results in multiannual development programmes, the result of a process leading to decision taken through partnership. The process has a number of stages culminating in the measures being taken over by public or private promoters.


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