The European Commission has published its 2019 Regional Competitiveness Index, alongside the results of a Eurobarometer survey on regional policy.
The Regional Competitiveness Index, which is updated every three years, enables regional authorities to view and assess their development over time both singly and in comparison with other Member States; in order to identify strengths, weaknesses and areas where investment could be best targeted. The 2019 index will inform the allocation of public investment through the EU’s Cohesion Policy programmes for the budget period spanning 2021 to 2027; and authorities and citizens will both be able to access the index’s interactive web tool, enabling them to view scores for their region across a range of sectors: digital infrastructure, health, human capital, governance, innovation and transport.
The results of a Eurobarometer Flash survey on EU citizens’ awareness of and attitudes to regional policy, published alongside the 2019 Regional Competitiveness Index, show that while only 40% of respondents demonstrated awareness of projects funded by the EU, 80% of those who were aware of these projects’ existence agreed that their impact had been beneficial. The Commission has therefore highlighted the need for better communication and proposed that the next Cohesion Policy include provision for a full communication plan for each programme it supports, to include social media activities and events planning. Respondents to the survey were also asked where they thought the EU should focus increased investment, with 91% expressing support for greater funding for education, health and social infrastructure; while 90% said further investment should be deployed in measures protecting the environment.
Johannes Hahn, the EU’s Commissioner for Neighbourhood Policy, Enlargement Negotiations and Regional Policy, said: “The sooner the new Cohesion Policy programmes are ready, the sooner EU funds can deliver on the ground. The Commission is actively helping Member States design their programmes and both the Regional Competitiveness Index and Eurobarometer published today provide useful insight on where to direct EU and public investments.”