Brussels, 17 June 2003
European Structural Funds contribute to higher growth, new jobs and sustainable development in the least developed regions
With the help of the Structural Funds, the poorest parts of the Union have been able to create 800,000 jobs during the 1994-99 period, while adding to their GDP levels, according to a new evaluation study. The study highlights the many ways in which European programmes have had an impact on the quality of life of the poorest ("Objective 1") regions(1). In these regions the EU contributed € 114 billion from the Structural Funds to programmes mobilising some € 210 billion, including national public and private contributions.
Presenting the study, Michel Barnier, the Commissioner responsible for regional policy and institutional reform, said: "The results of this study are further proof of the added value of European regional policy. This policy has contributed to growth, competitiveness and convergence, helping the whole of the Union to take advantage of the opportunities of Europe's single market. This study provides important lessons as the Union prepares new programmes for the new Member States. It will also help us to make intelligent decisions regarding future policy, which the Commission will take when it presents the Third cohesion report at the end of 2003".
At the global level, the evaluation found that :
The global results reflect the combined outcome of many individual success stories:
The direct impact in Objective 1 regions was accompanied by the positive indirect returns to other Member States through higher imports and increased trade. An earlier study estimated that for each €100 spent under structural instruments in Objective 1 regions, between €20 and €40 returns to other Member States in the form of exports to the Objective 1 regions.
The current study also provides many lessons and the following recommendations:
The findings of the study are based on a detailed review of programme information complemented by an extensive series of interviews with over 350 programme managers, social and economic partners and representatives of the private, community and voluntary sectors. The Commission will encourage the Member States to use the lessons in the course of mid-term review of current Structural Fund programmes of 2003/04. The Commission will also ensure that the lessons of the evaluation are brought to the attention of the future Member States as they prepare their European programmes for the 2004-2006 period.
The EU's Structural Funds finance multi-annual programmes to foster regional development, employment and structural change. The programmes are drawn up in a tripartite partnership associating the regions, the Member States and the European Commission. Between 1994 and 1999, more than two thirds of the interventions amounting to about € 114 billion were concentrated in "Objective 1" regions, where the gross domestic product was below 75% of the Community average. Of this total, about 41% were targeted at strengthening the productive environment, such as investments and modernisation of enterprises, research and technological development or tourism, about 30% contributed to infrastructure development (transport, environment, water, energy etc.) and some 25% to human resources. Outside "Objective 1" regions, some additional € 25 billion were spent across 5 further objectives, supporting industrial or rural areas in difficulties, human resources and areas with a low population density.
For more information on the Structural Funds at:
The complete text of the evaluation can found at this site:
¹ Jörg Beutel: "The economic impact of Objective 1 interventions for the period 2000-2006". Final report to the Regional Policy Directorate-General, European Commission. Konstanz, Germany, May 2002
(1)Objective 1: "Promoting the development and structural adjustment of regions whose development is lagging behind". These regions are defined by a GDP per capita below 75% of the EU average. Between 1994 and 1999 the following regions were concerned: Austria: Burgenland (1995-1999); Belgium: Hainaut; Germany: Brandenburg, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, East-Berlin, Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt, Thuringia; Greece: the entire country; Spain: Andalucia, Asturias, Cantabria, Castilla y Leon, Castilla-La Mancha, Ceuta y Melilla, Comunidad Valenciana, Extremadura, Galicia, Canary Islands, Murcia; France: French Overseas Departments, Corsica, the 'Arondissements' of Avesnes, Douai and Valenciennes; Ireland: the entire country; Italy: Abbruzzi (1994-1996), Basilicata, Calabria, Campania, Molise, Apulia, Sardinia, Sicily; Netherlands: Flevoland; Portugal: the entire country; United Kingdom: Highlands and Islands Enterprise area, Merseyside, Northern Ireland