EU Spent a Trillion Dollars of "Cohesion Money" Seeking Unity: Where's Is It?

The EU spent nearly a trillion dollars of cohesion money. It turns out neither the donors nor the recipients are happy.

The WSJ reports The EU Spent a Bundle to Unify the Continent. It’s Not Working.

The European Union has spent nearly one trillion dollars to unify the continent by delivering highways and trains into places where there were once gravel paths. In current dollars, that is over eight times the size of the Marshall Plan that rebuilt Europe after World War II. The EU has built airports and bridges, trams and swimming pools. It has repaired castles and medieval churches.

It hasn’t bought love.

To the vexation of European leaders, some of the biggest recipients of funding are now hotbeds of discontent, brimming with voters disquieted by the cultural and political pressures that have accompanied European integration, and threatening the bloc’s cohesion.

The biggest recipient of EU cohesion funds in mainland France is Nord-Pas-de-Calais, once an industrial powerhouse of coal, steel and textiles. In parliament, it is represented by Marine Le Pen, the French presidential runner-up who proposed France hold an EU exit referendum.

Many locals say EU funding was overshadowed by the disadvantages of membership, including the obligation to accept migrants from other EU nations. Blaenau Gwent voters favored Brexit by 62% to 38% to leave the EU in 2016. It was Wales’ highest “leave” vote.

The future of the EU still hangs in the balance, with divisions over refugees in particular driving wedges between its member states. If copious spending during decades of European optimism couldn’t revive fading communities or unite the continent, EU officials worry about what comes next. Rising nationalism is pitting smaller, eastern countries against larger, western powers.

EU funding can carry onerous rules and stipulations involving complex paperwork and restrictions on project types, irking recipients. East European nationalists allege that much of the money flows back to German and French construction companies.

Donor countries have soured on cohesion funds, too, partly because of alleged corruption among recipients. In Hungary, where skepticism of the EU runs thick, the bloc’s antifraud agency says $47.8 million spent upgrading street lamps through EU contracts awarded to a company once owned by Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s son-in-law contained “serious irregularities” that may constitute fraud. The son-in-law denies the accusation. Mr. Orban says Hungary no longer needs EU cash.

Who Gives, Who Gets?

Donors and Recipients Both Unhappy

Recipients are unhappy because of immigration and strings attached to the money. The donors are unhappy their money is going elsewhere.

Coming up, Brexit will leave a big hole in cohesion budget.The UK was the third largest contributor. For what?

Mike "Mish" Shedlock

Comments (15)
No. 1-9

As the article states, there are far too many strings attached to the money. It's been that way with international lending game for quite a while. The countries that "receive" the money often find their own corrupt elites are skimming, and that the conditions (accepting refugees in this case) are onerous. There are also often means for the money to be clawed back to the lending country through private contracts, even though the recipient country is still on the hook. Elites love receiving these loans and regular people often see little or none of the money. Same old story.

The EU isn't long for this world, and good riddance. Anyone who thinks the EU and ECB have good intentions should take a long look at the Greeks and what's become of them.


It will be used to "force" Poland et al to adhere to EU values. They want to use trade to do the same to the US. Adhere to the EU way or take the highway. It's the thin edge of the wedge & US will pay the price if you don't wise up.

When they do finally manage to get an army I can only imagine the outcome. Soldiers from one nation sent into another in case of disagreement. It can happen.

The EU is now a monster. Plain to see but until it becomes a threat no one wants to recognise it, then it will be too late.


Another thought, cohesion. Why did they actively encourage the Brits to exit and then make threats? Something doesn't add-up. Double speak on the part of the EU. What they really want is control. Cohesion is just a convenient word.

It should read a Trillion to gain control.


The cohesion funds are not meant to further European political cohesion, so whatever the merits or weaknesses of the projects financed, you cannot measure success against political "cohesion" which is something entirely different. The cohesion funds like the ESF and EFRO and ESIF all target regional disparities in welfare and economic development and aim to invest in bolstering the economy in areas that are "backwards" or lack opportunities. The term cohesion is meant economically and socially, not politically, and projects tend to encourage infrastructure spending and other public spending in areas where there is too little local budget.


Zero Hedge Headline: "Italy's Central Bank Admits Wealth Redistribution Leads To Corruption"