EU member states and MEPs need to strike a deal on the bloc’s budget or funding for its poorest regions could be at risk.
That is the view of the Committee of the Regions, an assembly of local politicians, which meets as many as six times a year to discuss EU policies.
“Some EU countries rely on regional funds for growth,” said Ramón Luis Valcárcel Siso, President of the Committee of the Regions, who has also been head of the Autonomous Community of the Region of Murcia since 1995. “They account for 60 percent of public investment in some places. So if there is no funding, they will not have money to invest. This is why it is important to reach an agreement as soon as possible.”
The aim of EU regional spending is to bridge the gap between Europe’s wealthiest and poorest regions. Poland is predicted to be the biggest benefactor under the next seven-year budget.
For the mayor of Bratislava, the regional funds are essential to boost his local area’s competitiveness.
“If you look around Slovakia, if you look into my city you will find the projects also in boosting the competitiveness, mainly in the area of innovation and research,” said Bratislava’s Mayor Milan Ftáčnik. “We have excellent institutions in the research area which are producing the world results. Without the help of the European funds, this would be very limiting.”
But critics say the funds are often poorly managed and badly tracked, which leads to money being wasted.