Commission insists poor-performing regions need structural reforms

Regional Policy Commissioner Corina Crețu said that tailored-made strategies are the answer to regional growth woes. [European Commission]

The European Commission yesterday (11 April) suggested that regions with a lower level of growth could benefit from greater institutional capacity and structural reforms that could facilitate investment. EURACTIV Spain reports.

That appraisal followed a report published yesterday by the EU executive on the EU’s regions, which concluded that they are “lagging behind” in terms of growth and income. It also suggested strategies using EU funds.

The so-called “low growth regions” are those that have a GDP per capita of 90% or lower of the EU average. “Low income regions” are those where wages are less that half the average, also evaluated by GDP per capita.

The Commission ranks a number of regions in Spain, Greece, Italy and Portugal among those with low growth.

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Low income regions are concentrated mostly in Eastern Europe, in countries like Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary and Poland.

In total, these regions are populated by one-sixth of the European population, some 83 million people.

Its report insists that there is a need to create an environment that is favourable to investment, so that development and cohesion policies can take full effect. It is a strategy that needs to go hand-in-hand with “trustworthy” administration that acts in a “transparent, responsible and efficient” manner.

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It also warned that the low growth regions have exposed themselves more to the effects of the economic crisis through not sufficiently improving their institutions.

The Commission urges these regions to focus on reducing bureaucracy that currently stymies the growth of new businesses, as well as improving the efficiency and accountability of public services.

Regions with low income can benefit from so-called smart specialisation strategies.

Regional Policy European Commission Corina Crețu said in a statement that “tailored” strategies should be combined with other preconditions that “can make these regions attractive to residents, workers and businesses”.

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