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For richer, for poorer: enlarged EU to decide on funding to close regional wealth gaps

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For richer, for poorer: enlarged EU to decide on funding to close regional wealth gaps

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The spending of some 308 billion euros is nearly through the debate phase in the European Parliament. Next week it will vote on how to distribute cohesion funds and structural funds to the regions, over the next seven years. At Socialist group discussions, a former president of the EU executive body, the founding father of cohesion policy, Jacques Delors, reiterated an opinion now shared by many: that this spending is the heart of European integration:

“I am very happy that the 25 were able to come to an agreement on the financial perspectives, which are going to be reviewed. That will be in 2008. But that doesn’t stop me from giving my point of view: This is a crisis of the European spirit. We no longer reason along European lines, but increasingly only in a short-term way, seeing its interests in the short term. This is laughable in relation to the challenges shaking European countries.”

Each political group will present a report on its spending priorities. MEP Stavros Lambrinidis stresses the importance of regional funding for every part of the EU. He said: “The better-off everyone is, the better-off each individual country is. (Looking at it) Even selfishly: if you have a rich region somewhere else and you are a British company, you can sell more to that region.”