Interpreting EU Funds Data for Macroeconomic Analysis in the New Member States

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Drawing on a dataset suitable for macroeconomic analysis, the paper provides an overview of the magnitudes, purpose and institutional implications of EU-related transfers to and from the new member states. A rough analysis of accounting identities and first-round effects shows that EU funds may have led to a fiscal drag of up to 1 percent of GDP and an additional aggregate demand stimulus of up to 1 percent of GDP during the first years of membership. These effects are likely to increase as additional funding become available under the new financial perspective, pointing to the need to consider policy tradeoffs.


Drawing on a dataset suitable for macroeconomic analysis, the paper provides an overview of the magnitudes, purpose and institutional implications of EU-related transfers to and from the new member states. A rough analysis of accounting identities and first-round effects shows that EU funds may have led to a fiscal drag of up to 1 percent of GDP and an additional aggregate demand stimulus of up to 1 percent of GDP during the first years of membership. These effects are likely to increase as additional funding become available under the new financial perspective, pointing to the need to consider policy tradeoffs.

I. Introduction

Transfers from the EU are increasingly impacting the economies of the EU’s new member states in Central and Eastern Europe (NMS).1 Widely perceived in the region as “manna from heaven”, much attention is currently focused on how to absorb these funds as quickly as possible, so as not to lose them under EU rules. At the same time, injecting up to 4 percent of GDP into economies that are already in a rapid catch-up process will have significant macroeconomic ramifications. Little analysis of these effects in the specific context of the NMS has been carried so far, because of uncertainties about the flows involved, the limited empirical evidence to date and the sometimes complex rules regarding the usage of EU funds. Data available from national and EU sources are, prima facie, not useful for macroeconomic analysis because of differences in accounting conventions and categorization.

This paper is intended as a primer on the macroeconomic implications of EU funds in the NMS. It focuses on EU-related financial flows from and to the NMS, during the first 2 ½ years of membership as well as under the EU’s new financial perspective (NFP) for 2007-13. This information is not readily available and depends crucially on each country’s projected absorption path. The paper seeks to create a correspondence between the forms in which EU funds data are conventionally presented and the categories necessary to assess their impact on fiscal and external accounts and aggregate demand. It also provides some preliminary back-of-the-envelope estimates of the expected magnitudes. The paper is not intended to offer a full macroeconomic analysis, in particular the implications for growth, employment and the real exchange rate. This more ambitious task, which would require a model-based approach, is left to another paper.

The paper is structured as follows. Section II gives an overview of the size and structure of EU funds available to the NMS. Section III focuses on structural funds, which are the bulk of funds under the NFP. Section IV looks at the fiscal implications. Section V provides estimates of projected actual - as opposed to committed - flows, which are necessary to assess the first-round impact of EU funds on aggregate demand and the balance of payment. Section VI concludes.

II. EU Funds Available to the NMS: An Overview

EU funds to the NMS serve three broad purposes: income convergence, agricultural support and development of internal market institutions. This is achieved by a myriad of individual programs, each with their own set of rules and target institutions. Moreover, the classification of these funds has changed under the NFP, making it sometimes difficult to compare commitments before and after 2007. Box 1 provides a mapping of the EU’s budget headings from old to new financial perspective. An explanation of the various programs is contained in Appendix I.

Classification of EU funds available to NMS 1/

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Headings which do not affect transfers to NMS (e.g., administration) are omitted.

Overall funds committed to the NMS are set to increase under the EU’s new financial perspective (Figure 1a)2. In nominal terms, all NMS are promised substantially greater allocations under the NFP than what they were granted for 2004-06 (the so-called Copenhagen agreement) and before membership (pre-accession aid). Poland, for example, will replace Spain as the largest recipient of EU structural funds. In GDP terms, increases are not quite so impressive (Figure 1b), reflecting high projected nominal GDP growth in the NMS3. Indeed, EU funds are likely to decline as a percentage of GDP in fast-growing countries like Latvia. At the other end of the spectrum, Hungary and Czech Republic are set to enjoy a steep increase in EU funds relative to GDP, in part due lower medium-term growth assumptions. Differences in country-specific allocations primarily reflect the degree of real income convergence (Figure 2)

Fig 1a.
Fig 1a.

NMS: Average annual commitments (in euro bn, 2004 prices)

Citation: IMF Working Papers 2007, 077; 10.5089/9781451866414.001.A001

Fig 1b.
Fig 1b.

NMS: Average annual commitments (in percent of GDP, current prices)

Citation: IMF Working Papers 2007, 077; 10.5089/9781451866414.001.A001

Source: National authorities, European Commission, IMF staff estimates.* Data on pre-accession aid are not available.
Fig 2.
Fig 2.

NMS: Commitments and real convergence

Citation: IMF Working Papers 2007, 077; 10.5089/9781451866414.001.A001

Source: National authorities, European Commission, Eurostat, IMF staff estimates.

Funding is increasingly focused on speeding up income convergence (Figure 3). Structural and cohesion funds are intended to foster real convergence and therefore account for a large share of payments in the less wealthy NMS. They are set to increase substantially under the NFP, mainly at the expense of unconditional lump sum budget payments granted in the first years of membership primarily to richer countries such as Slovenia (at the time intended to prevent them from becoming net payers to the EU). The NMS will also experience a gradual increase in direct payments to farmers under the common agricultural policy: starting from 40 percent of the level in old members states in 2007, payments to farmers will be increased by 10 percentage points a year to reach parity with the old members by 2013.

Fig 3.
Fig 3.

NMS: Structure of commitments

Citation: IMF Working Papers 2007, 077; 10.5089/9781451866414.001.A001

Source: National authorities, EC.1/Include structural funds (ERDF, ESF, community initiatives) and cohesion funds2/Includes direct payments, market measures, and rural development (FIFG/EFF and EAGGF (guidance & guarantee)/EAFRD)

As EU members, the NMS also contribute about one percent of GDP to the EU budget.

These contributions (called own resources) include gross national product based resources, value added tax based resources, the British rebate4, and the EU’s traditional revenue sources collected on its behalf by national governments (sugar levies and 75 percent of tariffs on non- EU imports) and are presently capped at 1.24 percent of gross national income. In fact, the NMS’ annual payments have been around one percent of GDP in 2005 and 2006 (the first full years of membership) and are expected to remain at that level, also in the recent accession countries Bulgaria and Romania.


Structural and cohesion funds, the EU’s main instrument to increase country’s growth potential, are attracting great attention in the NMS. These funds finance investment in physical infrastructure and human resource development (rather than income support) and are therefore designed to permanently increase countries’ productive potential and speed up real convergence. The committed amounts are large—ranging from an annual average of 1 ½ percent of GDP in Slovenia to over 3 percent of GDP in Hungary—and expectations regarding their positive effects are correspondingly high. Discussions with the European Commission have so far focused on which define NMS’ priorities regarding the use of these funds. These differ substantially (Figure 4), with larger countries like Poland allocating a big portion to regional programs while others (especially the Baltics) dedicating larger share to human resource development. These plans are expected to be finalized in 2007.

Fig 4.
Fig 4.

NMS: Allocations of EU structural funds 2007-2013

Citation: IMF Working Papers 2007, 077; 10.5089/9781451866414.001.A001

Source: National Strategic Reference Frameworks.

Absorption of structural funds picked up only slowly in some countries, pointing to teething problems. There is a concern in some NMS that funds could be de-committed if they are not drawn within the timeframe set by the EU. Data now available for the first 2 ½ years of membership allow some analysis of the pace and problems of absorption. Demand is high and contracting of funds committed under the 2004-06 financial perspective is proceeding swiftly. In most countries, it is likely to be completed by the end of 2006. Slovenia is contracting above EU commitments to ensure utilization of all funds in the event that implementation of some projects slips (Figure 5a). The bottleneck, however, is the absorption of EU funds: the administrative capacity to control projects, ensure efficient implementation, provide co-financing, and receive EU refunds after submission of proper documentation. Figure 5b shows that actual absorption, as measured by the submission of requests for interim payments, differs greatly between countries. The Czech Republic and Poland and the Czech Republic initially did very poorly – possibly because a large portion of funds is distributed to regional programs (Figure 4) - but have recently caught up with the other EU8. Slovenia, Estonia and Hungary, are doing particularly well.

Fig 5a.
Fig 5a.

EU8: Requests for interim payments (end of December 2006, percent of 2004-06 commitments)

Citation: IMF Working Papers 2007, 077; 10.5089/9781451866414.001.A001

Fig 5b.
Fig 5b.

EU8: Contracting of structural funds (end of December 2006, percent of 2004-06 commitments)

Citation: IMF Working Papers 2007, 077; 10.5089/9781451866414.001.A001

Source: National authorities.

Absorbing all structural funds presents an increasingly tall order. Under the so-called n+2 rule, countries need to submit all claims for refunds by end-2008, necessitating an acceleration of past absorption rates if funds are not to be de-committed. The challenge is compounded by the increased allocation under the NFP. An extension of the time permitted between contracting and reimbursement from 2 to 3 years will help, at least until 2011 when the n+3 rule reverts to the present n+2 rule. Figure 6 illustrates this absorption challenge by plotting a trend line of absorption to date (based on 2004-06 actuals) against the cumulative amounts that need to be absorbed so as not to lose funds under the n+2/n+3 rule. Estonia is well on track to meeting this challenge while other countries, especially the Czech Republic, Lithuania, Slovakia and Poland need to sharply accelerate their absorption over the next two years if they are not to lose funds.

Fig 6.
Fig 6.

EU8: Structural funds--EU commitments and country-specific absorption 1/

(cumulative in Euro billion)

Citation: IMF Working Papers 2007, 077; 10.5089/9781451866414.001.A001

Source: European Commission, national authorities, IMF staff calculation.1/ Trend extrapolation based on drawings in 2004-06.

Institutional frameworks for managing EU funds can affect the absorption capacity.

General requirements are defined by EU regulations, but countries are free to find their own solutions within this framework. To date, one can identify two distinct models among the NMS:

The Baltic countries centered the management around the Finance Ministry which acts both as paying and managing authority.

Frameworks in the Central European countries are less centralized, with managing and paying authorities assigned to separate institutions (paying authority is always in the Ministry of Finance).

Performance so far provides no conclusive answer on which framework is more efficient. After all, the initial leaders in absorption, Slovenia and Estonia, represent both models. However, there appear to be two general lessons from the NMS’ experience: First, initial frameworks were over-regulated, often to prevent misuse of EU funds. Secondly, absorption is helped by a strong central managing authority. Countries have already reacted to this initial experience. For example, Poland in late 2005 created a new ministry of regional development to consolidate the oversight over funds which had previously been located in various ministries and this has greatly speeded up absorption. The Czech Republic, meanwhile, is retaining its disaggregated approach to managing EU funds.

IV. Fiscal Implications

EU-related transfers directly impact countries’ fiscal balance. This matters, for two reasons: First, many NMS are struggling to exit from the excessive deficit procedure and aim to meet the Maastricht fiscal criteria for Euro adoption. It is therefore important to identify additional budgetary pressures arising from EU funds5. Secondly, EU funds obscure the size and direction of the fiscal stimulus. With data for at least two budget years available, it is now possible to undertake a first ex-post assessment.

Measuring the impact of EU funds on the fiscal accounts is fraught with a number of methodological difficulties. Several problems arise:

Accounting method: The treatment of EU funds differs greatly between countries, mainly because they do not use the accrual-based ESA95 standard in their national budgets but rather stick to cash-based accounting (Box 2). But it is of course the deficit calculated according to ESA95 rules that ultimately matters for determining a country’s compliance with the EU’s deficit limits.

Ultimate user of funds: Under ESA95 rules, only funds that end up with “government units as final beneficiaries” are recorded as an expenditure and offsetting revenue item in the fiscal accounts (Box 2). In practice, funds for agricultural support virtually all go to the private sector, while those for internal policies and cohesion go to the public sector. The status of the ultimate user is the most uncertain for structural funds, even on an ex post basis (these data are generally not easily available): information obtained from some countries suggest that 45 percent of regional development funds (ERDF), 70 percent of social funds (ESF) and 100 percent of community initiative funds end up in the public sector.

Co-financing: Under EU rules, countries need to cofinance every project from national resources, at rates ranging from 15 percent for cohesion funds to 25-50 percent for structural funds6. For structural funds committed under the NFP, this ratio has been reduced to 15 percent. In practice, the cofinancing amount may be larger, depending on national policy preferences. Co-financing can also in principle come from the private sector (such as commercial loans) but for the time being, it overwhelmingly relies on budgetary resources.

Substituted spending: Member countries are allowed to use EU-funds to substitute national spending for some purposes (e.g., agriculture), but not for others (e.g., structural)—the so-called additionality rules7. In practice it is virtually impossible to establish how much a government would have spent on a certain expenditure item if it had not had access to EU funds. Estimates of the fiscal impact of EU funds however, crucially hinge on getting the amount of additionality right. A simplified assumption, used in the paper, is that countries substitute domestic spending to the maximum extent possible under EU rules.

Accrual (ESA95) and cash-based fiscal reporting for EU funds

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An example for Lithuania illustrates the issues discussed above. It assumes that there is no expenditure substitution, agricultural funds are fully transferred to non-government beneficiaries, and other transfers end up with non-government entities.

Lithuania: Cash and accrual fiscal accounting for EU funds (percent of GDP)

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Source: Data from the authorities and staff estimates.

The net impact of EU-related transfer on the fiscal balance is negative in all countries.

Using ESA95 accounting, the effect can be estimated by adding unconditional budget transfers received from the EU and substituted spending, and subtracting contributions to the EU and budgetary cofinancing of projects8; EU funds that are passed on to government beneficiaries cancel each other out on the revenue and spending side (Text Table 1). As shown in Figure 7, EU-related transfers are—all other things being equal—increasingly creating a drag on fiscal deficits. The exact size depends mainly on the assumed amount of substituted spending, but could be in the range of ½ and 1 ½ percent of GDP.

Fig 7.
Fig 7.

EU8: Net impact of EU-related funds on the fiscal deficit*

(ESA95, percent of GDP)

Citation: IMF Working Papers 2007, 077; 10.5089/9781451866414.001.A001

Source: National authorities, Eurostat, IMF staff estimates.* Substitution as reported by the authorities for HU and SI; maximum possible substitution ccording to EU rules for other countries.
Text Table 1

Framework for evaluating direct fiscal impact of EU transfers.

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These lines are equal in ESA95.

Including the substitution component of cofinancing.

EU funds also obscure the size and direction of the fiscal stimulus. With both budgetary evenues and expenditures containing substantial transactions with a non-domestic entity (the uropean Commission), the change in the headline fiscal deficit from one year to the other is o longer a good approximation of the demand impact of fiscal policy. As shown in Text Table 2, payments to and from the EU need to be excluded from both expenditures and evenues. Since net transfers from the EU are increasing in all countries, this generally leads o larger estimates of the fiscal stimulus (or less withdrawal of stimulus) than suggested by he headline balances.

Text Table 2.

Fiscal Stimulus due to EU-related transfers in the NMS

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“+” = additional stimulus“-”= withdrawal of stimulusSource: National authorities, Convergence programs, IMF staff estimates.

Excluding TOR.

Estimated distribution between government and non-government institutions may not exactly correspond to ESA actuals.

The challenge is to make best use of EU funds without complicating fiscal policy. EU

funds provide a unique opportunity to increase investment spending and thus to accelerate growth. But, as shown above, they will ceteris paribus contribute to larger deficits—a challenge especially for countries trying to meet the Maastricht fiscal criteria. Even in countries with low deficits or a surplus, EU funds may lead to an unwarranted fiscal stimulus. This is an issue primarily in the Baltics, where economies are already showing signs of overheating.

What can be done to contain the fiscal drag? If countries do not want to permit fiscal loosening, they can use EU-funds to substitute domestic spending to the extent possible under EU rules. Cofinancing would need to be accommodated by reducing spending elsewhere, preferably in current expenditures which are still high in the NMS compared to other emerging market countries. This boils down to a relative increase of capital spending in the budget—after all, the purpose of structural funds. Data for 2003-05 provide little evidence that countries have indeed reduced the share of current spending in order to make room for EU structural funds9.

V. Broader Macroeconomic Implications

The broader macroeconomic implications of EU-related transfers depend on actual flows to the economy as a whole. The analysis needs to consider all funds involved (not only those passing through the budget discussed above) as well as countries’ contributions to the EU. As discussed in the section III, actual flows will depend on countries’ absorption rates and, to a lesser extent, market variables that influence certain receipts from the EU (e.g., agricultural support) and contributions to the EU (e.g., VAT share). Data for the first two years of EU membership suggest that all NMS were, as expected, net beneficiaries of EU funds, all be it to very different degrees (Figure 8). The Baltic countries received much larger amounts as percent of GDP than their Central European neighbors (between 1 and 2 percent, as opposed to about ½ percent) reflecting relatively large allocations received in the Copenhagen agreement and, at least in Estonia, early progress in establishing effective institutions to manage absorption. Net transfers from the EU are projected to increase to above 2 percent of GDP per year under the NFP for all NMS except Slovenia. At about 3 ½ percent of GDP, average annual inflows in Romania and ulgaria are projected to be particularly high, reflecting generous allocations under the NFP and only slightly lower expected absorption rates than in the other NMS10.

Fig 8.
Fig 8.

NMS Net inflows of EU funds (percent of GDP, current prices)

Citation: IMF Working Papers 2007, 077; 10.5089/9781451866414.001.A001

Source: National authorities, European Commission, Eurostat, IMF staff estimates.*Data on preaccession aid are not available.

A. Aggregate Demand

A number of conceptual issues arise when estimating the overall demand impact. Since net drawings from the EU were positive, it is natural to expect that they had a positive demand impact, even if limited in some countries. Measuring this impact is, however, not a straightforward task. Issues that need to be taken into account include:

  • Advance payments bear no relation with economic activity and need to be excluded from any demand-side estimate. Given the infant stage of project preparation, these monies remained largely unspent in 2004 and rested on government accounts. Poland stands out as it initially used most of these advances to finance its state budget deficit. Only in 2005 were advances used at a larger scale to make payments to the beneficiaries of structural funds.

  • There are other timing issues: EU refunds are only received after documentation has been submitted to and approved by the European Commission (a process which may require up to six months), so they reflect economic activity from the past. It would therefore be more accurate to capture the demand impact at the time when beneficiaries sign contracts with suppliers or pay their bills rather than when EU refunds are received. But such data are difficult to obtain.

  • As discussed above, it is unclear whether EU funds are crowding out or augmenting domestic spending. Structural funds have an explicit additionality rule, but it is not easy to verify in practice.

  • Finally, there are second-round or Keynesian multiplier effects as well as general equilibrium implications that can only be captured in a broader model setting.

As a first cut, the demand effect of EU-related transfers can be estimated in a simplified framework. Such a back-of-the envelope approach entirely disregards the timing and second-round effects issues mentioned above. The demand impact can be defined as:

D=α(T+NC)CA with α<0,1>

Where demand (D) depends on transfers from the EU (T), national co-financing (NC), contributions paid (C), and advances received (A). One of the greatest uncertainties is the degree in which EU funds substitute domestic spending that would have taken place anyway. We capture this by a crowding-out factor (a), a measure of substitution between EU transfers and domestic spending (α=1 if there is no substitution).

The demand effect of EU-related transfers is mostly positive, but the results depend crucially on how much domestic spending is substituted. Figure 9a shows the results of the above formula if one makes the (admittedly heroic) assumption that all NMS followed official additionally guidelines on EU transfers, i.e., expenditures financed with structural, pre-accession, and rural development funds do not replace domestic spending while other EU transfers (e.g., cohesion, common agriculture policy, Schengen) do. Reflecting the different types of EU funds received, the implied values for a range from 0.55 in Hungary to 0.65 in Estonia, Latvia and Slovakia. In the first 2 ½ years of EU membership, the demand impact is estimated to be rather modest (less than ½ percent GDP) in Central Europe, but higher (up to 1 percent of GDP) in the Baltics where EU commitments and (in Estonia) absorption have been high. In the time period covered by the NFP, the demand impact will be larger in most countries (especially in Hungary), as net EU-related inflows are projected to increase. The demand impact is estimated to be particularly large in Lithuania, Romania and Bulgaria. For illustration, Figure 9b shows the demand effect if all EU funds are assumed to be additional to domestically-funded spending (α=1). The effects are now much larger, up to 4 percent of GDP under the NFP.

Fig 9.
Fig 9.

First-round demand effect of EU funds

Citation: IMF Working Papers 2007, 077; 10.5089/9781451866414.001.A001

Source: National authorities, European Commission, Eurostat, IMF staff estimates.*Data on pre-accession funds are not available.

As the demand impact of EU funds grows, economic policy may need to adjust.In countries where growth is sluggish, EU funds may provide a welcome boost to economic activity. If, however, the economy is already suffering from signs of overheating, measures to offset the unwarranted demand stimulus generated by EU funds may be in place. In the Baltics, where there is little room for monetary or wage policy, a tightening of non-EU related fiscal spending may be one of the few instruments left.

B. Balance of Payments

Transfers from and to the EU will have profound effects on the balance of payment in the NMS. In the first instance, these flows will need to be recorded either in the capital or the current account, depending on whether they are used for investment purposes or for current expenditures. The accounting is not always precise, as some funds could finance both kinds of spending. Text Table 3 shows a schematic classification of how various sorts of EU funds enter external sector statistics. The ultimate impact on the balance of payments will depend on important second-round effects (e.g., the import propensity of EU-funded projects and real appreciation pressures). Such an analysis is, however, beyond the scope of this paper.

Text Table 3:

Classification of EU-related transfers in the Balance of Payments

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Source: Statistical Office of The European Communities, Current and capital transfers from the EU. A proposed treatment, 1996.

EU-related transfers complicate the analysis of external sustainability.As shown in Figure 10, EU funds have in the first instance primarily led to an increase of inward capital transfers, a trend that is likely to intensify over the next years as the importance of structural and cohesion funds increases. The current account balance is affected to a much lesser extent (at least initially) because contributions to the EU partly offset agricultural and other current transfers from the EU. These non-debt-creating flows call for some caution in assessing the external position of the NMS by using traditional indicators, such as the overall current account deficit. Even if import-intensive projects lead to a deterioration of the current account in the short term, this may be largely funded by capital transfers from the EU, with a low risk of sudden stops.External sustainability will also be affected with the real appreciation associated with substantial foreign-exchange denominated inflows.

Fig 10.
Fig 10.

EU8: BoP impact of EU-related transfers (in percent of GDP)

Citation: IMF Working Papers 2007, 077; 10.5089/9781451866414.001.A001

Source: National authorities, Eurostat, IMF staff

VI. Conclusions

EU-related transfers are set to substantially impact the macroeconomic situation in the NMS. We have only focused on the magnitudes and institutional issues involved, disregarding funds intended positive effects on structural change and economic catch-up in the NMS. But even a rough analysis of accounting identities and the first-round impact shows how EU funds can complicate fiscal policy and demand management. For example, we find that EU-related transfers may have ceteris paribus led to a fiscal drag of ½ -1 percent of GDP and an additional aggregate demand stimulus of up to 1 percent of GDP. These effects are likely to grow substantially under the NFP for 2007-13, which allocates additional EU resources, especially structural funds, to the NMS. The paper highlights how much any such estimate depends on the extent to which EU funds replace existing spending plans by both the private and the public sector.

The use of EU funds involves policy tradeoffs. Policy makers need to square the circle of exploiting the enormous opportunities offered by the access to “free money” from Brussels while at the same time guarding against any destabilizing macroeconomic side-effects. One aspect highlighted in this paper is the need to restructure budgetary spending to make sure that the co-financing needs associated with EU funds do not lead to an unwarranted fiscal expansion. A fuller analysis of the macroeconomic policy implications of EU funds, including monetary policy, would require a model that adequately incorporates second-round effects on both the demand and supply side of the economy.

APPENDIX I. EU funds available to the new member states (NMS)


There are several components of the EU Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) available to the new member states (NMS):

Market measures: purchase of unprocessed food at intervention price and subsidies to non- EU exports;

Direct payments: payments to farmers based on farm area and type of production; in the NMS these are lower than in the EU-15: direct payments were 25 percent of the EU-15 level in 2004 and have been increased by 5 percentage points a year reaching 40 percent in 2007; the increase will be 10 percentage points a year between 2008-13 to equalize payments with the EU-15 by 2013; NMS may top-up direct payments: such top-ups cannot exceed 30 percent of the EU-15 level, and the sum of EU payments and top-ups cannot be higher than payments received by farmers in EU-15;

Rural development (EAGGF guarantee section) : so called CAP pillar II to provide support to farms in less favorable areas (LFA), forestation of land, structural pensions (paid to those who transfer farms to young farmers), food-processing, or training of farmers; EAGGF guarantee and guidance (see below) sections are merged under the 200713 financial perspective into the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD);

Fisheries (EFF): fund created to support the fisheries sectors under the 2007-13 financial perspective; this task was financed with the structural fund FIFG (see below) in 2004-06.

Structural funds

Structural funds finance programs under the following objectives: Objective 1—economic catch-up in less developed regions (GDP per capita less than 75 percent of EU average), Objective 2—economic and social cohesion in areas facing structural difficulties (e.g., rural, fisheries); Objective 3—training and promotion of employment in regions not eligible under Objective 1 (for example, the Prague region in the Czech Republic). These objectives account for 94 percent of structural allocations for the NMS. There are four structural funds to finance the above objectives:

European Regional Development Fund (ERDF): financing Objectives 1 and 2

European Social Fund (ESF): financing Objectives 1, 2 and 3

European Agricultural Guidance and Guarantee Fund (EAGGF)—guidance section: financing Objective 1 in agriculture; it is merged with the guarantee section under the 2007-13 financial perspective (see above);

Financial Instrument for Fisheries Guidance (FIFG): financing Objective 1 in the fisheries sector. This fund is converted into the European Fund for Fisheries (EFF) and classified together with agricultural funds in the 2007-13 financial perspective.

Other structural funds, so called Community Initiatives, aimed at solving problems common to a number of member states and regions include: Interreg III (cross-border cooperation), Urban II (innovative strategies in urban areas), Equal (combating labor market discrimination), and Leader + (rural development initiatives). Community Initiatives accounted for some 5 percent of structural funds in 2004-06.

Cohesion Fund

Cohesion fund: this fund is available to countries with GDP per capita below 90 percent of the EU average. It does not finance programs, but is used to directly support large infrastructure projects in transportation and environment.

Internal policies

NMS receive funding within the existing EU policy priorities mainly for:

nuclear safety: decommissioning of power plants;

Schengen: to strengthen control of the EU border and to comply with the Schengen Treaty.

Pre-accession aid

This financial assistance is aimed at facilitating adjustment to full membership including to build absorption capacity for EU funds; as such it is not a part of the 2004-06 package. However, disbursements of remaining pre-accession resources continue also after accession. There were three pre-accession instruments:

Poland and Hungary: Assistance for Restructuring of the Economy (PHARE);

Instrument for Structural Policies for pre-Accession (ISPA); ISPA’s role is close to cohesion funds and these two types of funding are usually merged in reporting;

Special Accession Program for Agriculture and Rural Development (SAPARD).

Budget compensation

Budget compensation: an unconditional payment from the EU budget agreed at the last stage of the accession negotiations. The main goals were to ensure that new members did not become net contributors, and to improve budget liquidity. In part it was financed directly from the EU budget and in part with resources shifted from structural funds allocated to NMS. This is not a regular EU fund, and the NMS which acceded in 2004 will not receive compensation after 2006; Romania and Bulgaria will receive budget compensation until 2009.

Appendix 2. EU funds in NMS — Data, Sources and Classification

Information on commitments is mainly based on data published by the European Commission (EC). The information is expressed at constant 2004 prices. Whenever necessary, data were recalculated at 2004 prices using an annual deflator of two percent (i.e., the same deflator as applied by the EC). Commitments are divided into different structural funds based on the priorities set in national programs. In agriculture, the EU’s support to production and exports is assumed to remain unchanged from current levels. It practice, it will depend on actual production, exports and market prices. Direct payments, based on farmed area, are assumed to increase gradually to reach the amounts paid to farmers in the EU-15 countries by 2013. Support under internal policies is assumed to remain unchanged, except allocations for nuclear plants decommissioning.

Payments from the EU in 2004-06 are based on actual data from national authorities and information published by the EC. In case of inconsistencies (e.g. in internal policies), the EC data were used on the assumption that some programs managed by the Commission may not be fully reflected in national statistics. Estimates for 2007-15 are based on information received from the authorities and country-specific absorption capacities. Projected absorption rates are relatively high: NMSs are assumed to perform somewhat better than previous entrants to the EU such as Portugal and Spain. Given the uncertain future of the EU’s common agricultural policy, it was assumed that there will be no such payments after 2013. Payments are divided between current and capital component using the classification explained in text Table 3.

Spending is calculated as total payments received from the EU minus advance payments. Advance payments are assumed to be finally settled by 2015. The split between government and non-government beneficiaries reflects estimates based on information received from the Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovenia. The ratio between public and private beneficiaries calculated for these countries were applied to other NMS and kept constant over time.


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Source: European Commission, national authorities, IMF staff estimates.


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Source: European Commission, national authorities, IMF staff estimates.