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IP/00/1074

Brussels, 28 September 2000

Structural Funds: visit of Michel Barnier, Commissioner Barnier in charge of regional policy to the Netherlands

Today, Michel Barnier, the Commissioner in charge of rRegional Ppolicy, and responsible, ad personam, of the intergovernmental conference, is visiting for the first time the Netherlands. He is going with Roger Van Boxtel, Minister in charge of urban policy and integration, to the city of Enschede which on 13 May was severely damaged by a tragic explosion in a fireworks plant. Mr. Barnier wishes to underline the particular importance the Commission pays to the reconstruction of Enschede. The year 2000 marks the start of the new Structural Funds programming period. In July 2000, the Commission has formally adopted the Objective 1 phasing-out program for Flevoland. It is expected that several Dutch programs which have been submitted in the framework of Objective 2 of the EU Structural Funds Policy, will start in the second half of this year. Furthermore, the Commissioner is visiting projects undertaken in the framework of the Community Initiative Urban for Amsterdam. The visit will be concluded by the Commissioners' participation in the international congress of the European Federation of chief executives of local authorities.

Michel Barnier stated at this occasion : "Netherlands have used structural funds in an exemplary way for a genuine urban development policy. In particular, the "objective 2" programme for the urban areas which has drawn on the experience of the previous URBAN Community Initiative may well serve as an example for the rest of Europe".

Netherlands will benefit for the new programming period of structural funds, for the period 2000-2006, from a phasing out programme for Objective 1 in Flevoland of € 126 million. . This programme, formally approved on July 10, is a transition programme as Flevoland enjoys an economic performance and a growth of its regional income that doesn't allow it to qualify after 2006. It is expected that this financial contribution will generate total investments of more than € 470 million.

The Commissioner is visiting the city of Enschede, which on 13 May was severely damaged by a tragic explosion in a fireworks plant. With his visit, Mr. Barnier wishes to underline the particular importance the Commission pays to the reconstruction of Enschede.

Furthermore, the Commissioner is visiting projects undertaken in the framework of the Community Initiative Urban for Amsterdam. The visit will be concluded by the Commissioners' participation in the international congress of the European Federation of chief executives of local authorities.

At present,Furthermore the Commission is in the process of assessing and negotiating the programmes that the Netherlands has submitted under Objective 2. The Objective 2 areas in the Netherlands cover 15 % of the population, which corresponds to some 2.3 million inhabitants.

Four different programs are involved: the programme for the urban areas (with an EU contribution of € 192 million), the programme for the northern areas (€ 329 million), the eastern areas (€ 122 million) and the southern areas (€ 192 million). These programmes emphasise different aspects of the EU Structural Funds policy: economic reconversion, urban policy and rural development.

The Objective 2 Urban areas program covers 11 areas in 9 different cities. Apart from the four major Dutch cities (Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Utrecht and Den Haag), it includes medium sized cities, such as Eindhoven and Enschede.

The Commission proposed to the Dutch authoritiesis presently considering to amend the original Objective 2 Urban areas program, in order to include a description of the particular situation of Enschede and to earmark the amount to be allocated to actions in favour of the reconstruction of Enschede (of course, within the general eligibility rules of the Structural Funds).

The success of the Urban Community Initiative in the programming period 1994 1999 has contributed strongly to the integration of urban policy into the mainstream Structural Funds programmes for the coming programming period. Therefore, Michel Barnierthe Commissioner will visit some of the achievements realised in the context of the Urban Community Initiative for Amsterdam. The selected projects are situated in the eligible area of the 'Bijlmer' : Stida, a concept to help out of work people towards the labour market, VEC, a development center for women and an educational center..

The Commissioners' visit will be concluded by the opening of the International Conference of the European Federation of chief executives of local authorities (UDITE).

Further information can be found at: http://inforegio.ec.europa.eu


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