> ANSA English > News

Italy risks losing 16 bln euros in EU regional funds

Brussels says less than 50% of cash taken up by Italian regions

08 April, 14:50
Italy risks losing 16 bln euros in EU regional funds (ANSA) - Brussels, April 8 - Italy could lose as much as 16 billion euros of potential European Union funding available through a regional development program that is being underutilized, according to a report released Tuesday.

Italy also remained well below the European Union average in making use of funds available through the regional development program.

Between 2007 and 2013, Italy used just 49.63% of available funding through the regional development fund (ERDF), well below the EU average of 66.29%, the report on fund said. To date under the program, which ends on December 31, 2015, about 17.3 billion euros of Italy's allocation has been taken up, with 48.1% or more than 16 billion euros of ERDF funding still available.

"For many regions, it remains a challenge to be able to spend all the resources available," through the ERDF, the report said.

It added that Italy has more recently been making "process" on suggesting eligible programs and providing adequate management and reporting mechanisms that are required to take advantage of the ERDF. "There has been progress, but much remains to be done," said Shirin Wheeler, spokesman for the EU Commissioner for Regional Policy Johannes Hahn.

Management capacity of programs remains the biggest roadblock to successfully accessing the ERDF funding, Wheeler said.

The report noted that Sicily's regional government has shown improvement, rising from using just 18.52% of available funding as of February 2013 to reach 41.7% by February 2014.

Last month, the European Court of Justice said that Italy was guilty of "systematic irregularities" in the handling of EU funding, as it upheld a 2009 decision by the European Commission to cut support from its regional fund for Puglia by 80 billion euros.

"The serious shortcomings showed by the Italian authorities in the management and control of the use of EU funds are such as to lead to systematic irregularities," the court said in its ruling.