EU Regional Policy – aiming for economic growth and social cohesion
How does the EU promote economic growth and social cohesion and reduce levels of disparity between EU regions? EU cohesion policy attacks on all fronts: targeting energy efficiency, improvement in transport and internet links to far-flung regions, promoting e-health and innovation, and tackling measures to protect the environment, and against climate change. The policy covers investment in small and medium sized enterprises, and mobilises cultural and creative industries.
The current programming period runs until end of 2013 in parallel with the EU 7-year budgetary cycle (next programme covers 2014-2020). Cohesion policy is also the second-largest item on the EU budget.
The new legislative package for 2014-2020 is almost ready…
A new legislative package for this policy was published by the European Commission in October 2011. Since then the Trilogue (European Parliament, European Council and European Commission) have been in negotiation over the provisions, and the regulations will finally be adopted this autumn.
What will change?
Some of the main changes resulting from this package will be: “partnership agreements” between the Commission and Member States, where they commit to act to deliver Europe 2020 objectives. Indirectly this will lead to support for local development; more effective use of EU funds (for instance through smart specialisation), and closer links between cohesion policy and European economic governance; as well as simplified rules.
Reinforcement of territorial cooperation is one point which will be strengthened in the new 2014-2020 period. The EU has over 20 years of experience in promoting European cooperation, indeed last 21 September we celebrated the European Cooperation Day. The EU is also trying out new forms of cooperation between countries and regions, and even neighbouring countries: through macro-regional strategies.
And what is a macro-regional strategy?
EU macro-regional strategies are pioneering experiments in fostering greater territorial cohesion. The first to be implemented were those in the Baltic Sea and Danube regions, but now macro-region strategies in the Alps the Adriatic-Ionian and Atlantic Arc regions are under discussion.
These strategies are run under the “three no’s” concept (no new funds, no new legislation and no new institutions) and focus on more efficient use of available resources. They do not address Cohesion Policy and its instruments alone, but aim to improve synergies with other EU policies.
Economic crisis everywhere…
Which lead us to the key role Regional policy plays in Member States’ response to the current economic crisis. This crisis has an impact in the way Member States and regions use their EU cohesion policy funding. Our keysource gives an overview of how budgetary constraints impact on regional and local authorities’ spending of EU Structural Funds. Another issue is the difficulties Member States experience in spending Structural Funds – amazingly, the most disadvantaged regions are those which have the greatest difficulties (read more about this in our post later this week).
Even the EU’s newest member, Croatia, receives Structural Funding. Interested in the pre-accession support Croatia received? Take a look at our keysource on Regional policy in Croatia, which looks at the planned budget for cohesion policy for the 2007-2013, and 2014-2020 programming periods.
For your eyes only
If you happen to work at the European Parliament or for an MEP’s office, you have access to further Library information sources to keep up-to-date on regional development issues:
- Visit our Policy Area Page on Regional Development. Up-to-date selected papers and reports from institutions ranging from governments to universities and think tanks. Some examples:
- Analysis of the budgetary implementation of the Structural and Cohesion Funds 2012 / DG Budget, May 2013.
- Are EU Cohesion Policy funds well spent on roads? / European Court of Auditors, 2013
- Housing investments supported by the European Regional Development Fund 2007-2013: Housing in sustainable urban regeneration / Ecorys, DG Regio, September 2013
- Subscribe to an e-mail alert on Cohesion policy 2014-2020, on Regional Development and on Urban policy.
- Consult specialised journals and reviews for which the Library has a subscription as Regional Studies or European urban and regional studies among others.