Most Europeans have seen the construction of a building, road or bridge as part of EU-funded projects, festooned with banners or plaques bearing the European flag. However, effects that are easily visible with the naked eye and known to local residents are traditionally difficult to measure and their economic impact hard to evaluate. There is, in fact, no consistent EU-wide monitoring of regional funding at the municipal level.
Our new research investigates the relationship between EU funding policy and small-scale economic development. Our quantitative study follows an innovative approach. For a pilot region in the border area of Germany, Poland and the Czech Republic, we built a comprehensive dataset for the funding periods 2007-2013 and 2014-2020 with information on 119,116 EU-funded projects at the level of 6,571 municipalities. The funding data was then supplemented with data on economic activity in the observed municipalities based on satellite images and, specifically, night-time light emissions.