How EU susbisides are wasted on environmentally harmful activities
The development of the no-toll 21-km A-2 Motorway (which runs parallel to the national road) from Cervera to Santa Maria del Camí cost the EU EUR 135 million through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). Not only was the road not tolled, it cost as much as the total amount the EU gives directly to nature and biodiversity every year for the whole of the EU. Spain’s national plans (such as its rural development plans and operational programmes) are essential for supporting environmental needs. Currently, agriculture funds and structural and cohesion funds only use 10% of their potential to benefit the environment.
How EU funds can be invested into future benefits
With the same amount of funds required to build 260 meters of the motorway Cervera – Santa Maria del Camí, Spain has built its National Renewable Energies Centre (also using ERDF), which apart from its impact on the local economy of Navarra (increasing production, income and employment thought the attraction of new companies and new economic activities), hired 120 researchers and advanced Spain as a global leader in renewable energies. The cost of 15 km of the same motorway is equivalent to a project aimed at strengthening energy saving and renewable energy “Andalusia A +”, which has saved 24,000 tons of CO2 since 2007, making Andalucía the leading region in Spain in terms of thermal solar energy.
Land based management activities have similar impacts to the Spanish economy. Since 2003, the EU’s agri-environment scheme for the conservation of the Great bustard has, for example, helped increase economic activity in disadvantaged rural areas. In the Villafafila Lagoons Natura 2000 site, this scheme has helped save and manage the largest Great bustard population in the EU.