Europe in My Region

Today I will not talk about one single project, but 1,175 projects funded by the EU in Barcelona.

This is a repost of 1,175 European projects in Barcelona, originally published on Linkedin by Josep Rodríguez (LinkedIn) and submitted to the Europe in My Region 2016 blogging competition.

This is the spectacular figure of a survey carried out by the Diputació de Barcelona (Barcelona Provincial Government) when analysing the European funds received by local governments of the province during the period 2007-2013.

Surprised about the number? If that is the case, it is probably due to the fact that, in our imaginary, European funding is associated to those big road signs (normally infrastructures paid by the ERDF or the Cohesion Fund). However, yet maybe to a lower extent, other type of projects are also promoted and supported by the European Union: a vocational training course at the municipal centre, an exchange between your neighbourhood school and students from another country, a recovery of the local heritage for touristic purposes, an initiative protecting the nearest natural area, a volunteer stay of a youngster in a foreign country, a research programme of your city’s university, an integration programme for migrants nearby, the help-desk for entrepreneurs at the chamber of commerce, the cooperation between twin cities,… and a long etcetera.

There are 5 main trends to highlight:

  1. Much more than you imagine. As already mentioned, the range of programmes and beneficiaries is very wide. We can safely say that all the municipalities of the province (311) have, directly or indirectly, received EU funds through 36 thematic programmes. The projects are very heterogeneous regarding size, topic and characteristics, going from small actions to big infrastructures. Whatever the case may be, the estimated European contribution to the local governments of the province of Barcelona is situated between 375 and 381 million euro, a figure far from negligible.
  2. DG REGIO stands out. 7 out of 10 local projects within the period 2007-2013 have been funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), the European Social Fund (ESF) or the Cohesion Fund. The regional policy takes the lion’s share of the global amount and has been, consequently, a key tool for local development and for implementing projects to support employment policies as well as the construction of infrastructures at local level. Outside this, the rest is funded by other thematic programmes such as Integration Fund, Youth, Life, VII RTD, Intelligent Energy Europe or Europe for Citizens, which correspond to different type of projects related to local governments’ competences.
  3. Size matters. In general, the biggest municipality, the more projects it gets. It should be pointed out, though, that big and medium-sized municipalities (>50.000 inhabitants) are the most active ones. Also, some smaller towns also have outstanding results in EU fundraising. Finally, we cannot forget the role of supralocal authorities such as metropolitan areas, provincial governments and county councils when it comes to facilitate the access of the smaller municipalities to EU funds.
  4. Transnational cooperation is complicated. Only 13% of projects have been transnational, meaning that they have been developed in cooperation with partners from other countries. Also, only 17% of local governments have participated in this type of projects, which require specific skills and competences that not all of them have. Anyhow, this has allowed for the establishment of relationships with administrations from 55 countries and it has contributed to the internationalisation of cities and towns.
  5. Lost in the jungle of EU funds. The management of EU funds is split into a myriad of managing authorities, secretariats, national ministries, regional departments, etc., providing different degrees of information about funding projects. The access to relevant information about EU funds in your city or region is not easy. In that sense, the creation of an EU in my region database is extremely valuable, yet many efforts are still to be done in order to have the whole picture of what the EU is doing for your city and its citizens.

Thus, next time you see an EU flag in your way back home, remember that Europe does not only refer to roads and infrastructures, but also to many other actions affecting your daily life in fields like the environment, the tourism, the culture, the youth, the employment and the energy of your city.

Useful links:

More info:

  • The European transnational cooperation of local government: motivations of medium-sized cities of Barcelona province
  • The access of local government to the Structural funds 2014-2020 (chapter 3 – the participation in the period 2007-2013)


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