EU's poorest regions catching up: commissioner

11th February 2011, Comments 0 comments

Europe's poorest regions are catching up despite the financial crisis, EU Commissioner for Regional Policy Johannes Hahn of Austria said Friday in an interview.

He singled out Poland and Spain for particularly effective use of EU funds.

By 2014, the number of regions where economic output is less than 75 percent of the European Union average will fall to 68 from 84 at present, Hahn told the German business daily Handelsblatt.

"That means 35 million people will have a better life and a higher standard of living," he said.

Hahn cited Poland and Spain has two countries where poorer regions had made significant progress through the intelligent use of EU regional development aid but he said others lagged behind.

"In Portugal, the catching up process is more difficult" and Greece found it hard to come up with projects that would qualify for EU aid, the commissioner said.

He pledged to pay attention to issues of competitiveness when allotting funds in the future as Germany in particular is pushing EU members with weak finances to become more competitive on global markets.

© 2011 AFP

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