Written by Vasileios Margaras and Christiaan Van Lierop,
The principal aim of the EU’s regional policy, also known as cohesion policy, is to address the territorial, social and economic imbalances that exist between the different regions of the EU. Regional policy covers all regions and cities of the European Union, helping to support job creation, business competitiveness, economic growth, sustainable development, and to improve citizens’ quality of life. To achieve these goals and address the diverse development needs in all EU regions, €351.8 billion – almost one third of the total EU budget – has been set aside for cohesion policy for the 2014-2020 period. This financial support is distributed through two main funds: the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the Cohesion Fund (CF). Together with the European Social Fund (ESF), the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) and the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF), they make up the European structural and investment (ESI) funds, which provide support that can make a real difference to the lives of people in the EU’s regions.
With the current programming period (2014-2020) drawing to a close, work is now under way on planning the cohesion policy priorities for the next programming period (2021-2027). During its 2014-2019 term the European Parliament has been called upon numerous times to adopt new legislative acts, amend older rules and to provide opinions on many topics relating to the EU’s regional policy. Within the European Parliament, the Committee on Regional Policy is responsible for the Union’s regional development and cohesion policy, as set out in the Treaties.
In anticipation of its expected withdrawal from the EU, the UK, until now a net contributor to the EU budget, will no longer contribute to the post-2020 EU budget, which means that the EU will have fewer resources to allocate to its policies in the future, including cohesion policy. The European Parliament has, however, strongly advocated maintaining the level of funding for cohesion policy at its current level or even increasing it.
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Read the complete Briefing on ‘EU policies – Delivering for citizens: Regional policy‘ on the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.