Why do we need regional policy?

To reduce economic and social disparities

The European Union comprises 27 Member States which form a community and internal market of 493 million citizens. At the same time, however, the economic and social disparities among these countries and their 271 regions are great.

One region in four has a GDP (Gross Domestic Product) per inhabitant under 75% of the average of the European Union of 27.

The table of regional GDP per inhabitant in the EU in 2003
The table of regional GDP per inhabitant in the EU in 2003.

To show solidarity and remain competitive

European regional policy is designed to bring about concrete results, furthering economic and social cohesion to reduce the gap between the development levels of the various regions. From a scientific approach, regional policy brings added value to actions on the ground. The policy helps to finance concrete projects for regions, towns and their inhabitants. The idea is to create potential so that the regions can fully contribute to achieving greater growth and competitiveness and, at the same time, to exchange ideas and best practices. This is the main purpose of the new initiative Regions for economic change. The whole regional policy is in line with the priorities set by the EU for growth and jobs (see the Lisbon strategy)

Credit: Jean-Jacques Patricola

To meet the challenges of the 21st Century

”What kind of Europe do we want – for ourselves and for future generations? A dynamic Europe that leads the world in science and technology? A productive Europe where everyone has a job? A caring Europe where the sick, the elderly and the handicapped are looked after? A just Europe where there is no discrimination and everyone has equal access to jobs and education? A clean, green Europe that cares for its own environment and helps meet the global challenges too? A Europe of values that we share and care for? I want all of those things and, moreover, I believe they are within our grasp.”

Extract from a speech delivered by Commissioner Danuta Hübner in Warsaw on 17 October 2006

Peat firedl power plant in County Offaly, Ireland
Peat fired power plant in County Offaly, Ireland