Wednesday, 26 July 2006

Statistical quirk gives rich German region millions in EU aid

One of the richest regions in Germany is due to get millions of euro in EU aid, due to a flaw in how a region’s wealth is calculated.

The Speckgürtel or ‘fat belt’ around the Hanseatic city of Hamburg is due to get around EUR900 million euro from EU coffers between 2007 and 2013.

Spiegel Online reports that the massive amount of money coming the region’s way – to be used for building projects and roads – is due to an error in how the income per capita is calculated.

It reports that many people who live in the area around Hamburg actually work in Hamburg itself, so their economic wealth is recorded there.

However, they live in the region surrounding the city making the actual per capita wealth among the highest in the EU.

Whether a region qualifies for EU money is calculated by looking at the average per capita income of the inhabitants and comparing it with the average of the regions all around Europe.

Regions falling below 75 percent of the EU average qualify for money from Brussels.

The method has meant the German region is as entitled to the EU money as some of the poorest regions in the EU, generally to be found in the new member states in eastern Europe.

However, a commission spokesperson said that whatever method is used there will always be “grey areas”.

By Honor Mahony
This article first appeared on