PART III - THE EU BUDGET AND THE CONTRIBUTION OF STRUCTURAL POLICIES
TO ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL COHESION
2 The contribution of structural policies to economic and social cohesion:
results and prospects
2.2 Assessing the effects of Community intervention (1994-99)
The aim here is to assess the results of structural policies over the
last programming period. This, however, is inevitably still a preliminary
exercise since some of measures will not be completed before the end of
2001 and the results of the ex-post evaluations will not be available
before this date. The analysis focuses on the extent to which appropriations
for Community intervention have actually been spent, the results achieved
both in total and by Objective, the value-added of Community initiatives
and the efficiency of the procedures.growth.
Information on the implementation of the budget for the period 1994
to 1999 gives an indication of the progress achieved, even though a number
of programmes have not yet been completed, since payment can be extended
up to December 2001 (see Table A.35, in annex ).
Up to the end of 1999, the results appear to be satisfactory, in the sense
that appropriations amounted to 99% of total support available and payments
to 75%. It is the latter, it should be noted, rather than appropriations
as such which provides a better guide to the actual implementation of
programmes on the ground. Taking the Member States with Objective 1 regions
together, with almost all appropriations committed - as statutorily required
- overall commitments are in line with the growth of expenditure as budgeted
in 1994 in the Community Support Frameworks (CSFs), Single Programming
Documents (SPDs) and related programmes. As regards the payment of appropriations,
some Member States among the main beneficiaries of the Funds (Spain, Portugal,
Ireland, Germany) were well above the EU average at the end of 1999 (78%),
while France, Italy, the Netherlands and the UK lagged most significantly
behind (at only 67%).
The monitoring systems established in Member States have, however, enabled
start-up problems and implementation difficulties to be identified and
followed and the measures involved to be reprogrammed in agreement with
the Member States concerned.
For the other Objectives, implementation is variable. In the case of
Objective 2, a number of programmes, which were only adopted at the end
of 1997 or in 1998, could not be satisfactorily implemented in 1999 and,
as a result, overall payments were relatively low (60% of the total funds
available). Moreover, some 3% of total appropriations for the period (EUR
477.5 million) could not be carried out and, therefore, had to be returned
to the Community Budget.
For Objectives 3 and 4, cumulative appropriations were committed in full.
Payments amounted to 80% of total funds available for Objective 3, but
to only 69% for Objective 4, because of delays in the UK and Italy as
well as the innovative nature of a number of measures.
In the case of the agriculture part of Objective 5a, the rate at which
appropriations were actually implemented, as reflected in payments, was
below that for other Objectives, while for the fishing part, it proved
possible to make good the delays experienced in earlier years, so all
appropriations were committed and payments amounted to 73% of total funds
available. For Objective 5b, there have been persistent delays in payments
in a number of Member States, due to complicated implementation procedures
(Italy) and the unsatisfactory functioning of regional partnership (Belgium).
For Objective 6, which relates to only two Member States, the situation
is very different. Although total appropriations have been committed,
payments amounted to only 65% of the funds available in Finland and 54%
in Sweden, but this reflects the fact that programmes were not adopted
until 1995 when they joined the Union.
The above levels of payment - and, therefore, as noted above, the actual
implementation of structural measures - are, in general, satisfactory,
especially for Objective 1 and Objective 3 programmes, and are broadly
in line with the rates foreseen in the provisions for the various types
In the case of the Cohesion Fund, around 92% of appropriations for the
period 1993-99 were matched by payments by the end of 1999. Nevertheless,
the implementation of projects in 1999 varied considerably from Portugal
(85%), at one extreme, to Greece (65%), at the other.
Trends in eligible regions
Analysis of trends in eligible regions reveals an encouraging performance
by Objective 1 regions as a whole, but this is less marked for Objectives
2 and 5b regions.
There was some convergence of GDP per head in Objective 1 regions towards
the EU average, the level, in PPS terms, in these areas taken together
increasing from 63% of the average in 1988 to 70% in 1998, which means
that the gap was reduced by a sixth (Graph 33).
This, however, conceals significant differences between regions. Some
regions have caught up considerably, especially the new German Lšnder
(where GDP per head increased from 37% of the EU average in 1991 to 68%
in 1995) and Ireland (where it rose from 64% to 102%), as well as Lisbon,
Northern Ireland, Burgenland and Flevoland, where GDP increased from below
to above the threshold of 75% of EU GDP over the period. Other regions
have experienced little growth or even a decline in GDP per head: in Greece,
Central Macedonia (from 63% of the EU average to 60%), Ipeiros (unchanged
at 43%), Sterea Ellada (from 72% to 64%), Peloponnese (from 58% to 57%),
in Italy, the Mezzogiorno as a whole (from 69% to 68%) and in the UK,
Merseyside (from 80% to 75%) and Highlands and Islands (from 83% to 76%).
On the other hand, unemployment in Objective 1 regions remains high (16.6%
in 1999 as against 9.2% for the EU as a whole), although along with the
EU average rate, it has declined over the past three years (Graph
34). In a number of regions, unemployment is still well above the
EU average, especially the Objective 1 regions in Spain (19.3% in 1999,
though down from 27% in 1994), the French DOMs (32%), Italy (22.4%) and
the new German Lšnder (16.7%).
These high levels of unemployment go hand in hand with low rates of labour
force participation, because of scarce job opportunities and insufficient
rates of job creation, even in periods of economic recovery, which means
that the gap with the rest of the Union in terms of employment rates (the
proportion of working-age population in work) is even wider.
The level of productivity in Objective 1 regions has changed comparatively
little relative to that in the rest of the EU, GDP per person employed
increasing from 64% of the EU average in 1988 to 67% in 1998. Nevertheless,
there were substantial increases in Ireland and the new German Lšnder.
In general, the performance of regions is closely bound up with the general
economic context in which they are developing. The example of Ireland
demonstrates what can be achieved with a favourable combination of structural
intervention and a sound and stable macroeconomic policy.
For regions in receipt of assistance under Objectives 2 and 5b over the
period 1994 to 1999, in which employment was relatively dependent on industry
and agriculture, unemployment remained relatively low and stable in the
latter, while in Objective 2 areas, it declined by more than the EU average
between 1995 and 1999 (by 2.2 percentage points as against 1.3 points).
Even though the rate is still slightly higher than EU average, the experience
in both these and Objective 5b regions suggests that Community assistance
has been beneficial.