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The importance of the EU's cohesion policy

Posted by Nick Prag at 12 April 2018, 23:46 CET |
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The direction of the EU's cohesion - or regional - policy was debated by EU ministers this week, as the Commission prepares plans for a new policy post-2020.

Cohesion, a policy enshrined in the EU Treaties, has a stated aim of improving the economic well-being of regions in the EU and also to avoid regional disparities.

Repercussions from the economic and financial crisis have exacerbated the difficulties and challenges faced by lagging European regions.

A Commission report in October last year suggests cohesion policy should keep on investing in all EU regions, with a focus on three main purposes:

  • Harnessing globalisation, by supporting economic transformation in regions, innovation, industrial modernisation, and technology uptake;
  • Leaving no one behind, by tackling unemployment, investing in skills and business development while fighting social exclusion and discrimination;
  • Supporting structural reforms, as improving public administration boosts competitiveness, growth and maximise the impact of investments.

In their cohesion debate last month, Euro-MPs said in a resolution that the financial crisis had, particularly for regions with low growth, reduced budgetary policy margins, and led to a reduction in public investments.

They said that projects that will strengthen cohesion between regions needed to "remain at the heart of investment policies in spite of the budgetary pressure".

The regions needed not only priority funding, they said, but "tailor-made strategies to close gaps and offer dynamic prospects to their populations".

Whatever conclusions they Commission reaches, cohesion policy will continue to play a vital role in enhancing competitiveness of regions which are disadvantaged. Helping them has always been a priority for the European Union, and it is likely to remain so.

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Nick Prag

Nick Prag

Nick Prag is founder and managing editor of EUbusiness.com. Prior to EUbusiness, he was senior editor at Europe Online SA in Luxembourg, where he played a major part in the launch of Europe Online International.