Written by Christiaan Van Lierop,
While each macro-regional strategy is unique in terms of the countries it brings together and the scope of its policies, they all share the same common aim: to ensure a coordinated approach to issues that are best tackled together. Building on the success of the pioneering 2009 European Union strategy for the Baltic Sea region, this form of cooperation has since become firmly embedded in the EU’s institutional framework, with four strategies now in place, covering a total of 19 Member States and 8 third countries.
Every two years, the European Commission publishes a report to assess the implementation of these strategies, most recently in 2019. With the views of stakeholders and other players helping to complete the picture, it is possible to identify a number of challenges common to all macro-regional strategies in areas such as governance, funding, political commitment and the need to be more results oriented. This, in turn, has helped focus discussions on the future role of macro-regional strategies within the post 2020 cohesion policy framework. For while recent months have seen the idea of a fifth macro-regional strategy resurface, with negotiations now under way on the cohesion policy architecture beyond 2020, the future position of macro-regional strategies within this framework looks set to be the key issue in the coming months for all actors involved in the EU’s macro-regional strategies.
Parliament has actively taken part in this debate, through its participation in trilogues on the cohesion policy package, and its 2018 resolution on the implementation of macro-regional strategies. The current Croatian EU Presidency has also committed to focusing on achieving the goals of macro-regional strategies and ensuring their complementarity with cohesion policy as part of its programme, helping to keep the issue high on the political agenda. Much will depend, however, on the outcome of the ongoing multiannual financial framework (MFF) negotiations, which will be critical not only for macro-regional strategies but also for the future shape of cohesion policy in general.
This is an updated edition of a Briefing from September 2017.
Read the complete briefing on ‘Implementation of macro-regional strategies‘ in the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.