Europe comes to the aid of islands and mountains (part 2)
Whether they're islands, mountains or territories far from the mainland, such areas are considered by the EU to be regions with a strong natural geographical handicap. The EU's cohesion policy, with its powerful budget, gives these regions substantial resources to help them try to catch up with metropolitan areas. The Europe Now team travels to the French overseas department of Guadeloupe to take a closer look.
With the goal of "levelling up" in mind, nine Ultra-Peripheral Regions, or UPRs, have received €13 billion over the last seven years. Six of these UPRs are French. In the case of France, around 18 percent of the total EU Structural Funds goes to 3 percent of the population. On the face of it, that's a major boost for UPRs. But is that money being used optimally?
We went to see for ourselves in Guadeloupe, an archipelago nearly 7,000 kilometres from the French mainland. It is set to receive a billion euros from the EU in 2021-2027. Unemployment is around twice the national rate; a third of the population lives below the poverty line and water shortages are frequent. So why does more EU investment not necessarily translate into better living standards?
In part two of the programme, we meet the president of Guadeloupe’s chamber of commerce and industry, Patrick Vial-Collet, who also owns the island's only five-star hotel. He gives us a taste of the hospitality sector's post-Covid recovery, and touches on efforts to create jobs in that industry.