Since 2007, the European Commission has spent more than €25 billion of rural development funds on diversifying the EU’s rural economy and improving infrastructure in rural areas. However, according to a special report published today by the European Court of Auditors (ECA), the success of these measures varied significantly across Member States and sectors. For example, weak economic performance and illegitimate private use affect the durability and viability of EU-funded projects in rural tourism. The auditors recommend that the European Commission should share information on the best ways to channel funds more effectively towards viable projects, to mitigate the risk of projects being repurposed for private use, and to harness the potential of large databases.
“The EU has invested significantly in measures to make the rural economy less dependent on agriculture and forestry, to maintain and create jobs, and to improve infrastructure in rural areas,” said Viorel Ștefan, the ECA member who led the audit. “But EU-funded projects in these areas should be durable, and we think that the EU should do more to promote projects which derive long-lasting benefits and value for money from EU support.”