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

16-02-2017

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. One issue is about how the EU's cohesion policy can best contribute to its two objectives: competitiveness and cohesion. 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 migration) is widely debated. Other issues to consider are simplification of policy for beneficiaries, the importance of achieving better governance, and the contribution of cohesion policy to the EU’s economic governance. Another topic deals with the best way to support lagging regions. Special attention is also paid to the role of the urban dimension in cohesion policy. How cohesion policy can best support growth, jobs and innovation outside heavily populated areas and in regions with special geographical characteristics is also another issue of discussion in policy circles. Last but not least, the method of allocation of cohesion policy funds is another thought-provoking topic. In a 2016 speech, the Commissioner focused on four main areas: flexibility, performance, economic governance along with structural reforms, and simplification. Since then, the issue of Brexit has further complicated discussions regarding the future of cohesion policy. The departure of the UK from the EU may have a significant impact on the EU budget and consequently on the financial envelope for cohesion policy. This briefing is an update of an earlier edition, published in May 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. One issue is about how the EU's cohesion policy can best contribute to its two objectives: competitiveness and cohesion. 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 migration) is widely debated. Other issues to consider are simplification of policy for beneficiaries, the importance of achieving better governance, and the contribution of cohesion policy to the EU’s economic governance. Another topic deals with the best way to support lagging regions. Special attention is also paid to the role of the urban dimension in cohesion policy. How cohesion policy can best support growth, jobs and innovation outside heavily populated areas and in regions with special geographical characteristics is also another issue of discussion in policy circles. Last but not least, the method of allocation of cohesion policy funds is another thought-provoking topic. In a 2016 speech, the Commissioner focused on four main areas: flexibility, performance, economic governance along with structural reforms, and simplification. Since then, the issue of Brexit has further complicated discussions regarding the future of cohesion policy. The departure of the UK from the EU may have a significant impact on the EU budget and consequently on the financial envelope for cohesion policy. This briefing is an update of an earlier edition, published in May 2016.