Tuesday

29th Sep 2020

Magazine

A deep dive into the EU regional funds

The European Union has allocated almost €350bn for the 2014-2020 period to cohesion policy – accounting for a full third of the EU budget. Only the EU's agriculture policy receives more.

Considering the size of the funds – aimed at improving the economic situation in the EU's regions – the attention us journalists give them is disproportionately little. Part of the reason is that it is difficult to determine how successful the funds are, as Eszter Zalan explains in her article.

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But it could also be that journalists have some attitudes in common with fraudbusters. The recipient regions are far away for Brussels-based reporters, while local ones may perhaps give higher priority to investigating proper spending of the national budget, than of the EU budget. Some argue that there is simply "too much money".

Just before this magazine went to print, the European Court of Auditors published a report saying that there is not enough focus on what projects that received funding actually achieved.

And I myself was quite surprised that in the rich Dutch city of Amsterdam EU funding was spent on the development of a hotel. But the European commissioner in charge of regional policy, Corina Cretu, told Eric Maurice that the rich regions should continue receiving cohesion money. "Even in the richest regions we have pockets of poverty," she said.

Finally, you will read articles by Nikolaj Nielsen and Eszter Zalan about the future of cohesion policy, discussing what level of government will be in charge and how much budget cuts the funds will face.

Happy reading!

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