Wednesday, 19 December 2007

Regions to receive direct aid from Brussels

On 3 December, the President of the regional council of the South Pyrenees region in France (Midi-Pyrénées), signed the statutes of the new Euro-region, Pyrenees-Mediterranean, in the presence of the commissar for regional policy, the former Polish communist, Danuta Hübner. This Euro-region includes Midi-Pyrénnés and Languedoc-Rousillon in France and Catalonia, Aragon and the Balearic Islands in Spain. T

he region is thereby taking advantage of a possibility of establishing a European Group for Territorial Cooperation, a body which has juridical personality in European law which means it can receive money directly from Brussels. The purpose of these new “Groups” is, Brussels says, to encourage “cross-border, trans-national and inter-regional cooperation”: the real goal, of course, is to undermine the nation-state.

The president of Midi-Pyrénées has said that the creation of the Group will enable the new Euro-region to apply for two EU funds which have a total of 250 million euros. Although in fact neither France nor Spain has implemented the directive enabling the creation of Euro-regions, Commissar Hübner says it should be in the bag by February.

The atmosphere of international bonhomie was somewhat spoiled, however, by the refusal of representative from Aragon to attend the ceremony. Aragon is embroiled in a row with Catalonia about a collection of sacred art which is in Catalonia but which Aragon claims belongs to it. Meanwhile, the President of the Regional Council of Languedoc-Roussillon, who said that the Euro-region concept was “a machine which has been useless for twenty-five years” and who has threatened to leave it.

The attempt to set up the Euro-region, indeed, collapsed in 1991 because there were Front national deputies in the regional council of Languedoc-Rousillon. The process was re-launched with great pomp in Barcelona in 2004 but even now there are still disagreements between the regions. [Stéphane Thépot, Le Monde, 6 December 2007]

---- An excerpt from John Laughland's Intelligence Digest. For a free e-mail subscription to the Intelligence Digest, please click here ----

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