Challenges for EU cohesion policy: Issues in the forthcoming post-2020 reform

10-05-2016

In a 2015 speech, European Commissioner for Regional Policy, Corina Creţu, re-ignited the debate on the post-2020 cohesion policy reform by suggesting ten main issues for future reflection. Many of them are already prominent in discussions amongst European, local and regional policy-makers. One such issue is about the way the EU's cohesion policy can best contribute to its two complementary objectives: competitiveness and cohesion. Another issue concerns the best way to support lagging regions, especially those which, in spite of decades of EU support, have not converged towards the EU average. Yet another focuses on whether cohesion policy should continue to invest in advanced EU regions, especially in wealthy metropolitan ones. The way cohesion policy can better support growth, jobs and innovation outside heavily populated areas and regions with special geographical characteristics, is also a dominant issue of discussions in policy circles. Special attention is also paid to the role of the urban dimension in cohesion policy. Finding the most efficient form of support is an important point of reflection: should it be grants, repayable assistance, financial instruments, or possibly a mix of all of these along with further thematic concentration? In addition, the way that cohesion policy addresses new or growing challenges (such as energy security, migration and the digital economy) is widely debated. Other issues to consider are the simplification of policy for beneficiaries, the importance of achieving better governance and the contribution of cohesion policy to the EU’s economic governance. Last but not least, the method of allocation of cohesion policy funds is another thought-provoking issue.

In a 2015 speech, European Commissioner for Regional Policy, Corina Creţu, re-ignited the debate on the post-2020 cohesion policy reform by suggesting ten main issues for future reflection. Many of them are already prominent in discussions amongst European, local and regional policy-makers. One such issue is about the way the EU's cohesion policy can best contribute to its two complementary objectives: competitiveness and cohesion. Another issue concerns the best way to support lagging regions, especially those which, in spite of decades of EU support, have not converged towards the EU average. Yet another focuses on whether cohesion policy should continue to invest in advanced EU regions, especially in wealthy metropolitan ones. The way cohesion policy can better support growth, jobs and innovation outside heavily populated areas and regions with special geographical characteristics, is also a dominant issue of discussions in policy circles. Special attention is also paid to the role of the urban dimension in cohesion policy. Finding the most efficient form of support is an important point of reflection: should it be grants, repayable assistance, financial instruments, or possibly a mix of all of these along with further thematic concentration? In addition, the way that cohesion policy addresses new or growing challenges (such as energy security, migration and the digital economy) is widely debated. Other issues to consider are the simplification of policy for beneficiaries, the importance of achieving better governance and the contribution of cohesion policy to the EU’s economic governance. Last but not least, the method of allocation of cohesion policy funds is another thought-provoking issue.