5 years ago

Regions & Cities 2018: A deep dive into the EU regional funds

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  • Euobserver
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The European Union has allocated around €350bn for the 2014-2020 period to cohesion policy – accounting for a full third of the EU budget. Only the EU's agriculture policy receives more.

Amsterdam's Noord

Amsterdam's Noord district is also benefiting from a €33m co-financing to develop economic activity in a city park. The money will be used to renovate pavilions and two former gas stations. One former gas station, recently painted yellow, was already defaced with graffiti. The building is now used for neighbourhood activities like yoga, and as one passer-by told EUobserver, bicycle classes. Biking is of course quintessentially Dutch, and you can also do it on EU-funded bike paths. Head south-east to the Diemerbos forest, and you will be able to ride on what €119,386 of ERDF cofinancing could buy. The project was carried out by Recreatie Noord-Holland, a company owned by the province of Noord-Holland. Senior project manager Wim Roozenbeek told EUobserver by email that the money was used to connect Amsterdam with a neighbouring region. The project "apparently" met ERDF grant conditions, "which led to the decision to apply". He said that without the ERDF subsidy, a higher contribution from the province or from cities would have been needed. While you are in the south-east of Amsterdam, visit World of Food, an indoors food court in a former parking garage. The cooks producing multicultural street food desperately need all clientele they can get. World of Food opened in 2015, following a €418,800 ERDF subsidy. It was advertised as offering employment to local entrepreneurs, but many of them have already left. "We are all disappointed," said one of them, who did not want to see his name in print. "If you let yourself be heard, then they will bully you," he said, referring to the private company that owned the place. The entrepreneur said that there had been mismanagement, leading to doubling World of Food: €418,800 Photo: Peter Teffer 04 — REGIONS & CITIES 2018

Noorderpark: €33m Photo: Peter Teffer purchases in ventilation and heating systems. His story was corroborated by another, who confirmed that rent and service costs for the cooking units have skyrocketed, despite an initial promise that the first five years prices would remain stable. "I have to pay €2,400 in rent, and €448 in monthly dues – but I have no idea what that money is spent on. You are not allowed to ask questions, just pay," he said. The first noted that he had wanted to contact the "ERDF people" but that he had no idea who to turn to. Despite the difficult situation for the entrepreneurs, the food court did manage to fulfil some societal goals. "White people used to be afraid of [Amsterdam] southeast," said one of the entrepreneurs, referring to the large share of second-generation immigrants living there. "But the area's reputation has improved." CHURCHES AND MICROBES Returning to the centre of Amsterdam, you can start visiting some museums. In September 2014, the Micropia museum opened, which claims to be the only museum in the world devoted to the world of microbes. It is part of the Artis zoo, and received €2m in ERDF subsidies. Its spokeswoman told EUobserver that while the zoo is open about how many external subsidies it receives, it does not comment on how they are spent because that is something "between the subsidy provider and the recipient". Opposite the zoo is the Dutch Resistance museum, which since October 2013 has a dedicated section for children, which was built with €300,000 of co-financing by the ERDF. A short bike ride from here is the Our Lord in the Attic museum, which received €3.8m for a thorough renovation. The museum shows how in the sixteenth century catholic churches moved to residential houses and homes – the city had become Protestant, but non-Protestant religions 05 — REGIONS & CITIES 2018

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