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Brussels, 3 September 2009

Commissioner Samecki praises South Sweden for good use of EU funds: an astute combination of innovation and cross-border investment

Pawe ł Samecki, European Commissioner responsible for Regional Policy, will be in the Skåne-Blekinge region (South Sweden) on 4 September. During meetings with regional policy-makers, the Commissioner will discuss priority issues for the EU Swedish Presidency: Europe's response to the economic crisis, the future of Cohesion Policy and the EU Baltic Sea Region Strategy. The Commissioner will also visit EU-funded projects in Malmö, notably "Moving Media Southern Sweden", recognised as a key innovative approach to digital media policy.

Ahead of his visit, Commissioner Samecki said: "It is a pleasure for me to visit a region which has maximised the impact of the support it has received from the EU structural funds, based on a commitment to innovation and research. I particularly welcome the pro-active approach to digital media development, as demonstrated by the "Moving Media Southern Sweden" project. In these challenging economic times, the region's astute approach can be an inspiration for the rest of the EU."

Commissioner Samecki will meet Mats Johansson and Pia Kinhult, members of the Regional Executive Board and representatives of the Swedish Agency for Economic and Regional Growth. They will discuss the impact of the current crisis on the region's economy. A range of measures put in place by the European Commission are available to Skåne-Blekinge as part of the European Recovery Plan. In particular, advance payments from the Structural Funds amounting to EUR 1.8 million have been made to the region to help get European-backed projects off the ground more quickly. These payments are in addition to the EUR 3.5 million in front-loaded payments that the region has already received from the Commission in 2007 and 2008.

Overall, the EU regional programme for Skåne-Blekinge represents an investment of €70.7 million from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) in the 2007-2013 budgetary period. The programme focuses on increasing business development, improving the accessibility of the region, and enhancing the use of information and communication technologies (ICT) (see MEMO/08/195 ). The region also participates in the "Öresund-Kattegatt-Skagerrak" (EUR 112 million) and "South Baltic" (EUR 61 million) cross-border programmes.

The Commissioner will congratulate Sweden on the progress made towards the establishment of the " European Spallation Source Centre" in the city of Lund. This centre will provide a base for scientific research using the 'neutron scattering' technique and will be the most advanced of its kind in the world. Once in operation, the project could potentially receive support from the structural funds.

The EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region, a pioneering model for macro-regional cooperation in the Union, will also be part of the discussions. Adoption of this Strategy is one the priorities of the Swedish Presidency, with discussions between EU Member States set for the end of October. This strategy will help Sweden to strengthen cooperation with neighbouring countries to improve transport and energy links, reduce pollution, support balanced economic development and increase maritime safety and security.

Examples of EU support

Commissioner Samecki will see the " Moving Media Southern Sweden" (MMSS) in Malmö. The project aims to develop an existing digital media cluster into the leading cluster in Sweden in this field and as an international centre of excellence (ERDF contribution: €1.2 million).

Linked to this project, the region is hoping to inspire entrepreneurs to start businesses in the new media sector. The Commissioner will learn about " Malmö New Media", a project led by Malmö University which promotes cooperation between entrepreneurs and researchers (EU contribution: €2.5 million).

Note to editors

Between 2007 and 2013, Sweden as a whole will receive €1.2 billion from the ERDF, €700 million from the European Social Fund (ESF) and €1.8 billion from the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD).

More than 77 000 new jobs were created with EU investment between 2000 and 2006 in Sweden.

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