European strategies also approach the development of ultra-peripheral regions

Feb 24th, 2012 | Category: Articles, Current Issue ID, February 12, Policies & Strategies

Europe 2020 strategy places economic, social and territorial cohesion at its centre. Nowadays, regional state aids represent the horizontal objective with the highest share of the total aids granted to the industry and services.

The efficient control of regional state aids represents a preliminary condition for the states to elaborate efficient policies on regional aids and to contribute to an intelligent, ecological increase favourable to the inclusion.
The objective of controlling the state aids in the field of regional aids is to allow the national support to promote the development of less-favoured areas in the European Union in a manner compatible with the norms of the internal market. A special attention is paid to the ultra-peripheral region, as an acknowledgement of the additional specific costs generated by structural disabilities which can be determined by the geographic remoteness and integration difficulties in the domestic market.
One must distinguish between the control of regional state aids and the EU cohesion policy. In fact, the regional state aids focus more on less-favoured areas than on the EU regional policy which, at present, sets up more complex political objectives and a more extended space cover.
By aiming to remedy the disabilities of less-favoured areas, regional state aids promote the economic, social and territorial cohesion of the member states and of the entire European Union, thus contributing to meeting the objectives of the Europe 2020 strategy.
The EU cohesion policy aims at reducing disparities between the levels of development of the various regions and the backwardness of the less-favoured regions. This offers financing to a wide range of actions, from infrastructure (in the field of transport, communications, energy) to human capital.
In order to consider the relative seriousness of the problems affecting the development of concerned regions, we must make a difference between two categories of regions.
First of all, the regions with less than 75% of the European GDP average per capita and ultra-peripheral regions are eligible both for the highest rates of the aid for regional development and for the operating aid (regional aid meant to reduce current expenses of companies). The aid rate varies between 30% and 50% of the eligible costs.
The second category, the regions set up by the member states according to a national policy of regional development, based on certain parameters associated especially with a reduced population density and/or with an extremely low GDP per capita. For these regions, the member states can grant more reduced regional aids (basically between 10 and 15% of eligible costs).
The operating aid is granted in order to counter the depopulation of the least populated areas and of ultra-peripheral regions in order to compensate for the additional costs generated by the exercise of an economic activity because of the disability present in these regions, as well as the remoteness, the insularity, the reduced surface, the difficult relief and climate and the economic dependence on a reduced number of products.
Closely related to Europe 2020 Strategy, the European Commission has launched the “Connecting Europe” Facility, the central transport network of the EU. The EUR 31.7 Billion granted to the transport within  the “Connecting Europe” Facility of MFF (multiannual financial framework) will serve in practice as “initial capital” for stimulating additional investments from the member states to complete difficult cross-border connections and links which otherwise would probably not be built. Each EUR 1 Million spent at European level will generate EUR 5 Million from member states governments and EUR 20 Million from the private sector.

[ by Elena Ilie ]

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