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Europe

Commission Quiet on Winners, Losers of New Regional Policy

The European Commission has declined to say which regions will be better of worse off under new the new aid program for 2007 to 2013.

The new plan presented by Regional Policy Commissioners Jacques Barrot and Péter Balázs aims at a less bureaucratic, more decentralized EU regional aid, meant to boost poor and less competitive regions within the Union. Regional aid spending amounts to approximately one third of the EU budget. But when asked by journalists, the EU executive refused to release any figures as to which regions in which member states are going to profit or lose most from the new scheme. Commissioner Balázs said that regional policy is meant to enhance the cohesion within the Union, rather than to underline differences between member states. But privately Commission officials said that publication of "winners and losers" figures would come at a particularly bad time, as tensions between member states over the financing of the EU budget are already running high. Publishing calculations on regional aid would only stir up passions in the run-up to talks on the EU budget for 2007-2013. Officials told the EUobserver that the Commission would only confront the states with the financial consequences of its new regional policy in the last stages of member states negotiations on the new budget. (EUobserver.com)

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