Citizens’ awareness and perceptions of EU regional policy

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Available languages : English
Period : 2014-2020
Date : 03/09/2015

EU Regional Policy invests in all EU regions to reduce the differences in wealth which exist both between Member States, and between regions within Member States. The guiding principle of this policy has been to identify countries and regions whose GDP falls short of the EU average, and use development funds for projects to promote economic, social and territorial convergence.

Regional policy is the EU’s main instrument of investment: at €351.8 billion it accounts for approximately a third of the EU budget for the 2014-2020 period. Through several funds – most prominently the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), European Social Fund (ESF) and the Cohesion Fund – the EU co-finances a variety of projects which make it possible for less developed regions and countries to fulfil their economic potential. Prominent among these projects are investment in transport and communications infrastructure, support for small and medium-sized enterprises, and the modernisation of education systems. EU Regional Policy is also a major instrument for the realisation of the EU’s ‘Europe 2020’ growth goals, which aim to create growth and jobs via innovation, deal with the problems of climate change and energy dependence, and reduce poverty and social exclusion.

The majority of funding available under the regional policy is directed towards ‘less developed regions’, whose GDP is lower than 75% of the EU average, and ‘transition regions’, whose GDP is between 75% and 90% of the EU average. While individual Member States and their regions are the main recipients of co-financing for development projects, the EU has also sought to promote cross-border cooperation in macro-regions such as the Baltic Sea region, in an effort to promote a shared approach to drive growth in these regions.

This report is part of a series of studies that examines Europeans’ awareness of and attitudes towards EU Regional Policy. It is based on two previous surveys, the FL298 study of June 20102 and the FL3843 study of September 2013, to which it adds new questions. It begins by asking whether respondents have heard about any EU cofinanced projects and, if so, whether they believe those projects have had a positive or negative impact. Respondents are then asked about their familiarity with two of the EU’s key regional funds, and whether they have benefited personally from an EU-funded project. It also provides information on the sources of information used by respondents in finding out about EU Regional Policy. The survey then looks at priorities for EU Regional Policy from the citizen perspective, asking respondents which geographical regions and areas of investment the EU should target, and who should take decisions about regional investments. It then examines patterns of interaction between neighbouring Member States, asking respondents how often and for what reason they visit EU countries that border their own. It concludes by looking at public awareness of cross-border cooperation, including three EU macro-regional strategies in the Baltic Sea, Danube River, and Adriatic and Ionian Sea regions.

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