Rich and poor by EU standards

Recently Vélez-Málaga was awarded 10 million euros of European funding for projects to restore a number of historic buildings in its old town and coastal areas. At the same time Marbella, Benalmádena and Ronda heard that they had missed out on EDUSI funding, which translates as integrated sustainable urban development.

The money comes from the European Union Regional Development Fund (ERDF), which was set up by the European Union to help, as the name suggests, with regional development. These ‘regions’ by nature are supposed to be ‘poor’. As an example, Cornwall, the East Midlands, the northwest and northeast of England are all eligible for this type of funding as towns and cities in those areas have either suffered the loss of major industries and mining in recent decades or have few job opportunities.

Large parts of Spain are also able to access the funds. However, Marbella town hall opposition councillor, Félix Romero, wasted no time in attacking the current administration for not doing enough to secure the funding for his town when the announcement was made. He said that, “There are few towns in Andalucía that are more deserving of this type of subvention than Marbella.” One might be forgiven for questioning his belief that Marbella is “more deserving” of such funds compared to the rest of the region.

EU funding has always attracted criticism, with northern European countries, considered to be generally richer than their southern neighbours, saying that they are giving money to the corrupt south and the ‘poorer’ southern countries in the south believing that the rich north reaps all the benefits.

Either way, Vélez-Málaga is hoping to attract more tourists, and create jobs with its investment and at least in Andalucía, perhaps eventually the difference between ‘rich’ and ‘poor’ will be less noticeable.