Country report Italia - Work Package 1 Ex post evaluation of Cohesion Policy programmes 2007-2013, focusing on the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the Cohesion Fund (CF)
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Low growth and decline in competitiveness had characterised the Italian economy even before the onset of the international crisis. With the outbreak of the crisis, the Italian weaknesses (structural imbalances in particular) emerged more prominently and the economy was more severely affected than in other EU countries. In 2014, GDP was 9% lower than at the beginning of the programming period and the unemployment rate was 6% higher. In addition, high public debt prevented an expansionary budgetary policy from being adopted. Reductions in both public and private investment have delayed recovery and made it more difficult to achieve and have aggravated social problems.
Convergence regions suffered in particular during the crisis because they could not rely on either export growth or, as in previous economic downturns, on an increase in transfer from central Government, which on the contrary, were reduced.
The ERDF for the 2007-2013 period amounted to EUR 21 billion, the equivalent of around 0.2% of GDP and 4.4% of Government capital expenditure. Funding went predominantly to Convergence regions in the South where funding per head was nearly 14 times larger on average than in Competitiveness regions in the North. A relatively large increase in the EU co-financing rate, introduced in response to public finance difficulties, led to national co-financing being reduced by over 50% and total funding for programmes by over a quarter.
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