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Tomasic: communities need more help to use EU funds for local projects

10 May 2016

Tomasic: communities need more help to use EU funds for local projects

Local communities now have more power over spending EU regional funds, but they need more support to make use of it, according to a report drafted for the European Parliament by Croatian MEP Ruza Tomasic.

Local communities now have more power over spending EU regional funds, but they need more support to make use of it, according to a report drafted for the European Parliament by Croatian MEP Ruza Tomasic.

The EU has adopted new tools that enable local communities, local authorities and NGOs to set up schemes using regional funding for local projects. However, far too many are not yet making use of the funds owing to excessive red tape, or a lack of trust between different levels of government meaning that local areas are not getting support to design schemes that could be eligible.

The ‘Integrated Territorial Investments’ (ITIs) make it possible for local authorities or NGOs to set up funding schemes to deliver urban development; and ‘Community-Led Local Development’ (CLLD) allows local action groups to access funding to address specific local needs. Five per cent of the EU’s cohesion policy spending (€16 billion) will be made available for the schemes.

Mrs Tomasic’s report, which has received widespread support across the parliament today, says that more action is needed to help those local organisations turn their ideas into eligible schemes, partly due to complex rules, and because local authorities are not receiving the expertise to tailor the schemes because of a lack of trust by many national governments.

Speaking after the adoption of her report, she said:

“Rather than regional development projects being decided at the national or European level, it should be local communities making these decisions on how to improve their lives. Communities need more help in overcoming the red tape that is put in their way both by national governments and the EU’s bureaucracy.

“Ironically the areas that need this money the most also have the fewest resources to access it. They need help from the European Commission in setting out guidelines that are accessible. National governments are still reluctant to give local communities more power over deciding on this spending, and so they are not helping local authorities or communities to design programmes.

“Rather than using EU regional funding to build white elephant projects, it is right that local communities get to decide on their local priorities for investment. Local areas can decide the best ways to support job creation, especially for young people. Local areas will make far better use of this money. Now we need to take action to make sure they have all the support they need to access it.”

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