Concrete benefits for the citizens:
Regional policy helps people to find work and live better in their country, region, neighbourhood or village. It can mean highways, high-speed trains and airports which bring regions on the periphery closer to the great centres of economic development. It can mean creating enterprises in backward regions. It can mean improving the environment in old wastelands, the information society taking root in rural areas or education and recreational services becoming established in the suburbs. So this policy adds to a region’s economic attractiveness and acts as a catalyst for overall development.
Some of the main benefits for Spain:
- a big increase in GDP, well above the Community average (from 77,6% en 1994 to 87% in 2003) and a halving in unemployment (from 24,1% in 1994 to 11,4% in 2002);
- significant results in all supported sectors, in particular modernisation of transport (roads, motorways, railways), hence better accessibility, substantial reduction in travel time and accidents.
Some of the main benefits for Ireland
- transformation of the Irish economy: from well below (58%) to well above (132%) the EU average, rising by 3% to 4% per year);
- creation of a large pool of young, well-educated workers thanks to investment in human capital (unemployment rate halved from 11,9% in 1994 to 4,3% in 2002);
- accelerated modernisation of basic infrastructure (by stimulating economic development, attracting foreign direct investment), notably in respect of telecommunications (telephone system, rural internet, island cabling…).
Some of the main benefits for Sweden:
- introduction of new working practices (decentralisation, more co-operation between central and regional/local authorities, exchange of best practices and networking across national borders);
- created and maintained jobs, created new SMEs, more people with access to training.
Some of the main benefits for the environment:
- notable progress in the upgrading of equipment - increased connection to water supply (Portugal), to waste water treatment plants (Dublin), particularly in the cohesion countries;
- development of renewable energies (wind energy centres along the Portuguese coast), waste management systems (Vilnius);
- improvement of urban public transport systems with consequent reduction in journey time and pollution (Athens, Bilbao).
Example of gender mainstreaming:
- In Austria and Germany, an Interreg project specifically targeted the development of women’s entrepreneurship.
Examples of opening up border regions:
- Spanish-Portuguese border with the bridge over the Guardania and the Huelva-Lagos motorway;
- Danish-Swedish border with the Oresund bridge between Copenhagen and Malmö.
Example in France: Bio-excellence in Cherbourg
With EU funding, the regional authorities could set up a centre of excellence for the life industries and thus face reconversion problems. More precisely, the Structural Funds have provided financial support for a training centre located on the Cherbourg University campus and for the Laboratoire universitaire des sciences appliquées de Cherbourg (LUSAC), attached to the École d'Ingénieurs (EIC), allowing it to acquire very costly but effective equipment.
Example in the UK: Wolverhampton
In Wolverhampton the regeneration programme supported by the Structural Funds has created new jobs to replace those lost in steel and other industries. In five years, the scheme created 1500 jobs, 75 new SMEs of which 32 specialised in cultural activities, as well as helping finance a new tramway and replenish the theatre.
Example in Finland: The Octopus project in Oulu
The Octopus project, a business innovation and start-up centre was set up as a private-public partnership with the city of Oulu directing the co-operation network.