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

16-02-2018

The departure of the United Kingdom from the EU will have a significant impact on the EU budget. The next Multiannual Financial Framework, to be presented in May 2018, could make fewer resources available for cohesion policy in the post-2020 period. At this critical juncture, the discussion amongst policy-makers on the future priorities of cohesion policy is now heating up. Among the topics widely debated are the need to make cohesion funds simpler and more flexible for beneficiaries to use, while also strengthening the contribution of cohesion policy to the EU's economic governance and increasing its added value. One point of the debate relates to the way cohesion policy addresses new or growing challenges such as migration, environment and digitalisation. Yet another includes finding the most efficient form of support for beneficiaries: should it be grants, financial instruments, or possibly a mix of all of these? Other specific matters raised relate to the urban dimension in cohesion policy and the impact that the policy can have upon growth, jobs and innovation in rural areas, regions lagging behind, as well as regions with special geographical characteristics. Last but not least, the relationship between cohesion policy and the European Fund for Strategic Investment is much debated. The European Commission (EC) has published a number of white papers on the future of the EU that provide further ideas for reflection on the priorities of the Union. These reflections also have repercussions for cohesion policy. In addition, the 7th EC Report on Economic, Social and Territorial Cohesion also provides insights into the direction cohesion policy is likely to take. This briefing is an update of an earlier edition, published in September 2017, PE 608.722.

The departure of the United Kingdom from the EU will have a significant impact on the EU budget. The next Multiannual Financial Framework, to be presented in May 2018, could make fewer resources available for cohesion policy in the post-2020 period. At this critical juncture, the discussion amongst policy-makers on the future priorities of cohesion policy is now heating up. Among the topics widely debated are the need to make cohesion funds simpler and more flexible for beneficiaries to use, while also strengthening the contribution of cohesion policy to the EU's economic governance and increasing its added value. One point of the debate relates to the way cohesion policy addresses new or growing challenges such as migration, environment and digitalisation. Yet another includes finding the most efficient form of support for beneficiaries: should it be grants, financial instruments, or possibly a mix of all of these? Other specific matters raised relate to the urban dimension in cohesion policy and the impact that the policy can have upon growth, jobs and innovation in rural areas, regions lagging behind, as well as regions with special geographical characteristics. Last but not least, the relationship between cohesion policy and the European Fund for Strategic Investment is much debated. The European Commission (EC) has published a number of white papers on the future of the EU that provide further ideas for reflection on the priorities of the Union. These reflections also have repercussions for cohesion policy. In addition, the 7th EC Report on Economic, Social and Territorial Cohesion also provides insights into the direction cohesion policy is likely to take. This briefing is an update of an earlier edition, published in September 2017, PE 608.722.