The European Commission published its seventh report on economic, social and territorial cohesion on 9 October. The report shows how cohesion has evolved in EU regions over recent years and analyses the impact of national policies, cohesion policy and other EU policies. By bringing together data and findings, the report aims to check how cohesive, or divided, Europe is from an economic, social and territorial point of view. Moreover, it reviews the measures linking the effectiveness of the European Structural and Investment (ESI) Funds to sound economic governance.
This report shares positive findings but the Commission also points out persistent challenges. While in recent years regional disparities have started narrowing and employment has recovered, findings show also that the recovery process has been uneven throughout Europe. Some regions still have negative growth trends and unemployment levels above pre-crisis level. To this extent, cohesion policy continues to have a crucial role in promoting a balanced, sustainable and inclusive development.
The report shows how, in the post-crisis context, cities have combined opportunities with challenges. In order to tackle these challenges, investment in infrastructure is crucial, but the Commission has also stated that, in most EU regions, investment in innovation, skills and infrastructure is insufficient. Furthermore, some European countries still have to deal with issues around government efficiency, which hinders economic development and reduces the impact of public investment, including that co-financed by cohesion policy. The final message of the Commission is quite clear: cohesion policy’s key role in public investment reduced the impact of the economic crisis.
For the future of cohesion policy, the Commission has suggested an EU-wide policy based on three main purposes: harnessing globalisation, leaving no one behind and supporting structural reforms. Commissioner for regional policy Corina Creţu said: "The report clearly shows that our Union needs more cohesion. Whilst the crisis is over, it clearly has left scars in many regions. They will need cohesion policy to meet today's and tomorrow's challenges."
The overall purpose of the Commission is to draw lessons from cohesion spending during the crisis years and sets the scene for cohesion policy after 2020. By presenting this report, the Commission aims to fuel the discussion on Cohesion policy after 2020.
The report will be followed by a public consultation on the future cohesion policy, to be launched in early 2018. The next steps after that will be the presentation, in May 2018, of the Commission’s proposal for the multi-annual financial framework (MFF), followed by the proposals for cohesion policy after 2020.
A short version of the report is available at the link below:
The full text is available at the link below: