The European subsidies for improving the countryside do not end up well everywhere. In a third of the cases, subsidized projects did not last five years, even if large amounts were invested in them. This was successful in large infrastructure projects such as the construction of sewers, roads, bridges and viaducts, according to a study by the European Court of Auditors.
The European Commission has spent more than €25 billion on rural development over the past 15 years to diversify the rural economy. Its success varies considerably from country to country. Member State and sector, the Court of Auditors (ECA) states in a special report.
For example, there was weak economic performance and illegal private use. The auditors recommend the European Commission to limit the risk of misuse by repurposing projects for private use. Investments in tourist accommodation were among the most frequently supported diversification projects.
In several EU countries, the rural fund subsidized tourist accommodations even when they were not viable. In some cases, a legal investigation into fraud was launched.
The auditors identified cases where expensive tourist recreation projects were closed after several years. Some of these cost up to 9,000 EUR in EU grants per month of operation.
“The EU has invested significantly in measures to make the rural economy less dependent on agriculture and forestry, to preserve and create jobs, and to improve infrastructure in rural areas,” said Viorel Ștefan, the ECA member monitoring the audit. led.
The auditors found significant differences between different sectors and Member States. For example, in Poland, services for agricultural and forestry projects were less sustainable in the period 2007-2013 than for projects in other sectors.