Objective 1 region

Objective 1 regions were areas within the European Union (EU) designated for special assistance due to their economic underdevelopment, with the goal of reducing disparities and promoting growth.
Updated: Jun 27, 2024

3 key takeaways

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  • Objective 1 regions were targeted for EU funding to stimulate economic development and reduce regional disparities.
  • These regions had a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita below 75% of the EU average, qualifying them for significant structural and cohesion funds.
  • The funding aimed to improve infrastructure, boost employment, and enhance competitiveness within these regions.

What is an Objective 1 region?

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Objective 1 regions, now referred to as “Less Developed Regions” under the current EU terminology, were specific areas identified by the European Union as economically lagging and in need of significant development aid. These regions were characterized by a GDP per capita below 75% of the EU average, indicating a high level of economic disadvantage compared to more developed parts of the Union. The primary goal of designating Objective 1 regions was to foster economic convergence and cohesion across the EU.

Purpose and goals

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The main objectives of designating and supporting Objective 1 regions included:

  • Economic growth: Stimulating economic development to reduce disparities between regions.
  • Employment: Creating jobs and reducing unemployment rates in underdeveloped areas.
  • Infrastructure: Improving infrastructure, including transportation, communication, and energy networks.
  • Competitiveness: Enhancing the competitiveness of local businesses and industries.
  • Social inclusion: Promoting social inclusion and reducing poverty levels.

Funding and support

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Objective 1 regions received substantial funding from the EU’s Structural Funds and the Cohesion Fund. These funds were used to finance various projects and initiatives aimed at promoting regional development. The key components of this support included:

  • European Regional Development Fund (ERDF): Provided funding for infrastructure projects, business development, and innovation.
  • European Social Fund (ESF): Focused on improving employment opportunities, education, and social inclusion.
  • Cohesion Fund: Supported environmental and transport infrastructure projects in member states with a GDP per capita below 90% of the EU average.

Implementation and impact

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The implementation of development programs in Objective 1 regions involved collaboration between the EU, national governments, and regional authorities. Key areas of investment included:

  • Transport infrastructure: Building and upgrading roads, railways, airports, and ports to improve connectivity.
  • Business support: Providing grants and incentives to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to foster innovation and competitiveness.
  • Human capital: Investing in education, training, and workforce development to enhance skills and employability.
  • Social infrastructure: Developing healthcare, education, and social services to improve living standards and social inclusion.

The impact of these investments was significant in many regions, leading to improved economic performance, reduced unemployment rates, and enhanced quality of life for residents. However, the effectiveness varied across regions, with some areas achieving more substantial progress than others.

Transition to new classifications

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With the reform of EU regional policy, the terminology and classification of regions have evolved. Objective 1 regions are now referred to as “Less Developed Regions” under the current programming period. Despite the change in terminology, the core objective of reducing regional disparities and promoting economic cohesion remains the same.

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If you found the concept of Objective 1 regions interesting, you might also want to explore these related topics:

  • European Union Structural Funds: The financial instruments used by the EU to support economic development and reduce disparities between regions.
  • Cohesion policy: The EU’s strategy aimed at promoting harmonious development and reducing economic and social disparities across member states.
  • Regional development: The efforts and policies aimed at improving the economic performance and quality of life in specific regions.
  • Less Developed Regions: The current classification of regions within the EU that require significant development aid due to their economic status.
  • Economic convergence: The process of reducing economic disparities between regions, promoting balanced growth and development.

Understanding Objective 1 regions provides insight into the EU’s approach to fostering economic cohesion and development across its diverse member states, highlighting the ongoing efforts to achieve balanced growth and prosperity.

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