Let’s talk about rural development money

13 November 2013

Article by Nia Seaton, National Assembly for Wales Research Service

The European Commission issued the Let’s talk about rural development money! economic briefing in October 2013. The briefing looks at the financial implementation of current rural development programmes (2007-13) across Member States and Regions and seeks to learn lessons for the next round of rural development programmes (2013-2020).

The briefing contains some useful statistics on the percentage of funds received by each Member State, what the funds were used to support across the EU and the performance of Member States and regions in executing their rural development plans.

Graph 1 in the document illustrates the share each Member States received of the 2007-13 rural development funds. Poland received the largest share (14%) whilst Luxembourg received the least (0.1 per cent). The UK received 5 per cent which is a higher share than Finland, Sweden and Ireland but a lower share than Spain, France, Germany and Italy

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Source: European Commission Copyright European Union 2013

The brief reveals that the largest proportion of funds (45 %) were spent by Member States on axis 2 environment and land management measures, while 33 % was spent on Axis 1competitiveness measure and only 13 per cent  on Axis 3 economic diversification and quality of life measures. The UK spent the majority of its rural development budget (75%) on environment and land measures which was one of the highest proportions in the EU with only Ireland spending more on Axis 2 measures (80 %).

The brief includes a measurement of declarations of expenditure to the European Commission by Member States and Regions at the end of 2012 as opposed to what they had planned to spend. The highest rates of implementation were in Ireland (84%) and Luxembourg (80%) while the lowest were in Bulgaria and Greece (46%) and in Romania (44%). The implementation rates within the UK vary between administrations. Scotland has the highest rate falling in the (70-79%) band, England and Northern Ireland fall into the (60-69%) band while Wales has the lowest implementation rate falling into the (50-59 %) band.

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Source: European Commission Copyright European Union 2013

The brief identifies a number of reasons why rates may very between Member States these include:

  • The timing of programme submissions to the Commission and the quality of programmes submitted;
  • The implementation mechanisms in place;
  • The choice and design of Rural Development Programme measures;
  • Experience of Member States and Regions with the process;
  • The level and speed of financial execution and
  • The budget constraints creating challenges for Members in identifying match-funding.