“The primary findings are that EU-level groups, groups that promote a European identity and groups based in western Europe receive stronger support from the Commission.“
These findings are presented by Christina Mahoney and Michael J. Beckstrand in their newly published article “Following the Money: European Union Funding of Civil Society Organizations“*.
In their research, they use a database of 1146 EU-Commission funded groups in the period 2003-07**, trying to show whether the “the EU’s rhetoric provid[ing] anecdotal evidence in support of the hypotheses that the EU supports diffuse interests, Euro groups and groups organized at the supranational level” would actually be supported by data.
Their conclusion is that because most pan-European groups are based in Western EU countries, the average funding in the EU-15 was higher. The also found that environmental groups, think tanks and foundations, consumer groups and labour unions had a statistically higher probability of receiving (more) money.
The question I would raise, similar to the European Parliament rapporteurs data that also showed an imbalance to old EU member states, whether this has changed after 2007. In addition, I wonder why the article focuses on 2003-2007 data and doesn’t try to compare it with the FTS databases that are now available for download for the years 2007-2010.
My guess would be that it’s the academic publication delays as the authors somewhere refer to the data collection as of August 2008 – that is three years ago…
So I’d say that one should check whether there has been any changes in the statistics, given that now we are further away from the accession year 2004 and given that we have more comprehensive data on the EU Commission fund beneficiaries. In addition, since 2007 we are in a new multi-annual financial framework (2007-2013) and one might expect that this led to certain changes in practices both with regards to substantive and to regional distribution of funds.
* Journal of Common Market Studies 49(6), November 2011.
** As the dataset is mainly pre-FTS, the researchers gathered the financial data from 40 different Commission document that they think are comprehensive but for which they cannot guarantee completeness. The dataset is expected to be published here.