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Panorama Inforegio

The quarterly magazine of the actors of regional development

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Regions undergoing conversion in the European Union

For the period 2000-06, the priority Objectives of the Structural Funds have been reduced to three, so that aid can be concentrated on the regions that need it most. Of these three Objectives, Objective 2 relates specifically to areas undergoing socio-economic conversion. The 12 national maps of the areas qualifying for Objective 2 aid have been approved by the European Commission.



The selection criteria

How the Commission decides whether an area can receive financing under Objective 2 is a relatively simple procedure.

Objective 2 for the period 2000-06 now includes the former Objectives 2 (conversion of declining industrial regions) and 5(b) (development of rural areas). But it goes even further than that. It now also covers urban areas and areas dependent on fishing.

In order to concentrate aid on the most affected regions, no more than 18% of the Community population can qualify for the measures carried out under Objective 2. With this ceiling in mind, the European Commission established the number of potential beneficiaries in each of the 12 countries concerned.

All regions in the three remaining countries, namely Greece, Portugal and Ireland, are either totally or transitionally covered by Objective 1.

Each Member State submits its own choice of areas, based on the fixed maxima and the definition of areas . The Commission then analyses these proposals and, in co-operation with the Member State, draws up the final lists of qualifying areas.

The Member States' specific local characteristics do, of course, have a bearing on the allocation of aid. Thus, most of the funding allocated to Objective 2 in Belgium, Germany, Spain, the United Kingdom, Finland and Sweden is earmarked for industrial areas. Rural areas predominate in Denmark, France and Austria, while Luxembourg, Belgium and the Netherlands attach a special importance to urban areas.


A painless good-bye

In the 1994-99 period, some regions eligible for Objectives 2 and 5(b) made great progress and, as a result, they are no longer eligible for Objective 2 in 2000-06. However, Community support for these regions has not been broken off brutally. They will benefit from transitional aid from the Structural Funds and so continue to receive degressive funding from the ERDF (European Regional Development Fund) until 2005 and from the ESF (European Social Fund), EAGGF (European Agricultural Guidance and Guarantee Fund) and FIFG (Financial Instrument for Fisheries Guidance) until 2006 for the horizontal measures they undertake.

Detailed maps of the eligible areas can be viewed on the Inforegio website .


Breakdown of beneficiary populations, by country

Country
Population concerned
Population concerned
(in % of the country's total population)
Belgium
1,269
12
Denmark
0,538
10
Germany
10,296
13
Spain
8,809
22
France
18,768
31
Italy
7,402
13
Luxemburg
0,118
28
Netherlands
2,333
15
Austria
1,995
25
Finland
1,582
31
Sweden
1,223
14
United Kingdom
13,836
24
EU-15
68,170
18

The evolution of the eligibility criteria for Objective 2

1994/1999
2000/2006

Objective 2: conversion of declining industrial regions.
To qualify for this Objective, regions had to present the following characteristics:

  • an unemployment rate above the Community average
  • number of persons in industrial employment higher than the Union average
  • declining employment in that sector


Objective 5(b): development of vulnerable rural areas

Eligibility criteria:

  • relatively low development level
  • large number of agricultural workers
  • low population density
  • migration from rural areas in evidence

Industrial areas which meet the same criteria as the former Objective 2.

Rural areas which must meet two of the following four criteria:

  • population density lower than 100 inhabitants/km2
  • high number of agricultural workers
  • unemployment rate higher than the average
  • falling population

Under certain conditions, areas other
than those mentioned above can qualify for Objective 2 funding. They may be, for
example, rural areas where the agricultural workforce is not renewing itself.

Urban areas with one of the following five characteristics:

  • long-term unemployment rate higher than the Union average
  • high levels of poverty
  • degraded environment
  • high crime rates
  • low levels of education

Areas dependent on fishing occupying a significant number of workers in this sector, where the restructuring of the fishing industry is likely to lead to a significant fall in employment.



 

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