Mr Lionel Barber Editor of Financial Times
Rennes, 8 December 2010 Ref.: JYLD
CRPMCOU100464 Dear Mr Barber, Last week you published a series of articles on the EU cohesion policy and the way thestructural funds are being spent. There is no perfect tool for public spending. We should never cease to look forimprovements. In that regard, the FT articles will trigger a useful debate on how to improvestructural funds in the upcoming reform. Nevertheless we should also remember the main reason behind their very existence: tobridge the huge economic and social gap between the European regions. They are theexpression of European solidarity, and they did deliver. Disparities between the Europeanregions have been greatly reduced thanks to these funds. As President of the Conference of Peripheral Maritime Regions (CPMR), an association of
160 regions located away from Europe’s main centre, I can testify that the effects of cohe
sionpolicy have been outstanding in our territories. These effects are obviously betterappreciated in Faro, Rhodes or Turku, than in Frankfurt, Paris or London. And yet, it wouldbe so much easier to invest in already highly developed regions, than in those at adisadvantage. To foster cohesion is not an easy task. Of course, the efficiency of public funding always suffers from mistakes and even,regrettably, abuses. But the structural funds are tightly controlled in order to successfullylimit the abuse
s. What you call “red tape” is mainly this: control mechanisms in order to take
into account the wide variety of situations in Europe. If you were to suppress the controls,the money would be spent faster for sure, but it certainly would not be for the better.