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Better communication for cohesion policy

05-11-2019

Cohesion policy is a major EU investment tool aimed at reducing regional disparities and achieving economic, social and territorial cohesion. It delivers a wide range of results in areas such as new infrastructure, training, job creation, support for small businesses and environmental protection. Communication is key when it comes to making the public aware of existing funding opportunities and informing them of the results of cohesion policy investments. It can also affect public perception of the ...

Cohesion policy is a major EU investment tool aimed at reducing regional disparities and achieving economic, social and territorial cohesion. It delivers a wide range of results in areas such as new infrastructure, training, job creation, support for small businesses and environmental protection. Communication is key when it comes to making the public aware of existing funding opportunities and informing them of the results of cohesion policy investments. It can also affect public perception of the EU and raise awareness of the positive impact of EU support on people's everyday lives. Improving the visibility of cohesion policy is therefore a salient issue for the EU. Communication measures range from requirements for fund managers and beneficiaries on the basis of EU legislation to more informal initiatives such as information campaigns, events and web portals aimed at publicising the policy's achievements. In the framework of multi-level governance, communication activities bring together a wide variety of actors including EU institutions, Member States, regional and local authorities and members of civil society. The ongoing negotiations on the new multiannual financial framework for 2021 to 2027, including new regulations on cohesion policy, and the upcoming conclusion of the 2014-2020 programming period provide a good opportunity for reflection on the issue of cohesion policy communication. This briefing updates an earlier edition, of March 2019. It was originally produced at the request of a member of the European Committee of the Regions, in the framework of the Cooperation Agreement between the Parliament and the Committee.

EU support for coal regions

03-10-2019

The EU has committed to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 40 % before 2030, and by at least 80 % by 2050. This will require a transition from relying on fossil fuels to renewable energy sources, and in particular a reduction in power generation from coal. While EU production and consumption of coal has declined steadily, coal still provides about a quarter of EU power generation. Coal is mined in 12 Member States, and coal-fired power plants operate in 21 Member States. The European coal sector employs ...

The EU has committed to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 40 % before 2030, and by at least 80 % by 2050. This will require a transition from relying on fossil fuels to renewable energy sources, and in particular a reduction in power generation from coal. While EU production and consumption of coal has declined steadily, coal still provides about a quarter of EU power generation. Coal is mined in 12 Member States, and coal-fired power plants operate in 21 Member States. The European coal sector employs 238 000 people in directly linked activities, such as coal mines and power plants. An estimated 160 000 jobs could disappear by 2030. Further job losses are expected in indirect activities along the value chain, e.g. power generation, equipment supply, services, research and development. Impacts of phasing out coal are also likely to be felt in the iron and steel sectors, mining equipment manufacturing and coal terminals. Transition to a low-carbon economy will therefore require structural changes in coal-producing regions. Proposed solutions include helping workers to retrain and supporting their search for new employment, promoting local economies' diversification, modernising energy and power generation systems, developing the renewable energy sector, and rehabilitating mining land, for instance by converting former mines for renewable energy use or creating industrial heritage sites. The EU provides a variety of funding that can be used to alleviate the socio-economic consequences for coal regions. Energy and climate adaptation programmes, along with cohesion policy and research funding opportunities, offer financial support, while additional technical assistance is also available. The European Commission's Platform for Coal Regions in Transition assists regions to prepare and implement transition activities. As the EU is currently negotiating its post-2020 budgetary framework, the European Parliament and the European Committee of the Regions call for specific measures and tailored funding sources to offer support to facilitate transition in coal regions. The Commission President-elect has announced the establishment of a Just Transition Fund as part of the European Green Deal, and new legislative proposals can be expected early in her term in office.

Financial instruments in cohesion policy

30-09-2019

Considered a resource-efficient way of using public funding, the use of financial instruments in cohesion policy is increasing. Financial instruments provide support for investment in the form of loans, guarantees, equity and other risk-sharing mechanisms. In the 2014-2020 programming period, financial instruments can be applied in all thematic areas and funds covered by cohesion policy, and they can be combined with grants. The amounts allocated are expected to double in comparison to the previous ...

Considered a resource-efficient way of using public funding, the use of financial instruments in cohesion policy is increasing. Financial instruments provide support for investment in the form of loans, guarantees, equity and other risk-sharing mechanisms. In the 2014-2020 programming period, financial instruments can be applied in all thematic areas and funds covered by cohesion policy, and they can be combined with grants. The amounts allocated are expected to double in comparison to the previous period. The lessons learnt so far from the implementation of financial instruments show that they present both advantages and challenges. Their revolving nature can increase the efficiency and sustainability of public funds in the long term. The requirement to repay can stimulate better performance and quality of investment projects. They can improve access to finance, through targeting financially viable projects that have not been able to obtain sufficient funding from market sources. However, financial instruments can also entail high management costs and fees, as well as complex set-up procedures. Although financial instruments may be a beneficial way to optimise the use of the cohesion budget, in some situations grants can be more effective. It is also important to bear in mind that the primary goal of financial instruments is to support cohesion policy objectives, rather than just to generate financial returns. The new legislative proposals on the post-2020 cohesion policy framework have taken these considerations into account, simplifying the use of financial instruments. This is an updated edition of a 2016 Briefing.

Regional inequalities in the EU

17-05-2019

The issue of inequality has gained increasing importance in the public and political agenda in the aftermath of the financial and economic crisis, and in the context of political movements representing the 'places left behind'. Inequality may relate to income and wealth, but also to a variety of aspects such as access to basic services, education and infrastructure. In the context of regional disparities, it may also refer to differing levels of socio-economic development. Common inequality measures ...

The issue of inequality has gained increasing importance in the public and political agenda in the aftermath of the financial and economic crisis, and in the context of political movements representing the 'places left behind'. Inequality may relate to income and wealth, but also to a variety of aspects such as access to basic services, education and infrastructure. In the context of regional disparities, it may also refer to differing levels of socio-economic development. Common inequality measures have revealed that, while regional disparities have been decreasing when considering the EU as a whole, they have been increasing within some countries. A number of persistently low-growth regions exist in southern Europe, as do many low-income regions in eastern Europe. Every Member State has a number of 'inner peripheries', which are habitually located in post-industrial or rural areas and often characterised by high levels of unemployment, poor infrastructure, lack of skilled workforce and hampered accessibility. Strengthening social, economic and territorial cohesion, and reducing regional disparities is the main goal of EU cohesion policy. As a major EU tool to address regional inequalities, this policy provides a wide range of support for businesses and activities in areas such as research, environment, transport, employment, social inclusion, education and institutional capacity-building. Such support is crucial for addressing the underlying problems of many lagging regions, helping them create better living conditions, retain and attract talent, encourage investment, improve productivity and develop regional innovation systems. Together with economic governance frameworks and EU support for structural reform, EU cohesion policy can play an important role in reducing inequality, in a comprehensive and multidimensional way. While traditionally, GDP per capita has been used to assess regional convergence, a variety of new indicators tracking progress on issues correlated with inequality are available for this purpose today. Moreover, the proposals for the EU's post-2020 policy framework include new additional funding allocation criteria such as youth unemployment, education levels, climate change, and the reception and integration of migrants. These changes possibly indicate a shift towards a more comprehensive view of territorial convergence in the EU.

Reform Support Programme 2021-2027

13-03-2019

The European Commission adopted the proposal on the establishment of the Reform Support Programme on 31 May 2018, as part of the package for the upcoming multiannual financial framework for 2021-2027. The programme will provide financial and technical support for Member States to implement reforms aimed at increasing the resilience of their economies and modernising them, including priority reforms identified in the European Semester. The overall budget for the programme is €25 billion. It comprises ...

The European Commission adopted the proposal on the establishment of the Reform Support Programme on 31 May 2018, as part of the package for the upcoming multiannual financial framework for 2021-2027. The programme will provide financial and technical support for Member States to implement reforms aimed at increasing the resilience of their economies and modernising them, including priority reforms identified in the European Semester. The overall budget for the programme is €25 billion. It comprises three elements: a reform delivery tool (financial support); a Technical Support Instrument (technical expertise, building on the current Structural Reform Support Programme 2017-2020); and a convergence facility (preparation for adopting the euro). The Reform Support Programme will be open to all Member States on a voluntary basis, with no co-financing required. In the European Parliament, the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs (ECON) and Committee on Budgets (BUDG) are working jointly on this file under Rule 55 of Parliament's Rules of Procedure. A vote in the joint committee meeting is expected on 1 April 2019, with a vote in plenary thereafter, during the second April 2019 part-session. Second edition. The 'EU Legislation in Progress' briefings are updated at key stages throughout the legislative procedure.

European Regional Development Fund and Cohesion Fund 2021-2027

16-01-2019

In the context of the upcoming Multiannual Financial Framework for 2021-2027, the European Commission published a proposal for a regulation on the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the Cohesion Fund (CF) on 29 May 2018. The new single regulation on the ERDF and CF (previously covered by two separate regulations) identifies the specific objectives and scope of support for both funds, including non-eligible activities. The majority of ERDF funding (65 % to 85 %) will focus on smart growth ...

In the context of the upcoming Multiannual Financial Framework for 2021-2027, the European Commission published a proposal for a regulation on the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the Cohesion Fund (CF) on 29 May 2018. The new single regulation on the ERDF and CF (previously covered by two separate regulations) identifies the specific objectives and scope of support for both funds, including non-eligible activities. The majority of ERDF funding (65 % to 85 %) will focus on smart growth and the green economy, while the fund will also support other activities such as connectivity, social issues and local development. The CF will continue to focus predominantly on environmental and transport infrastructure. Special provisions have been proposed for territories such as urban areas and outermost regions. The indicator framework for monitoring progress will include new common results indicators. At the European Parliament, the file has been allocated to the Committee on Regional Development, where the rapporteur's draft report was presented in October 2018. It is planned to be voted in committee in February 2019. Second edition. The 'EU Legislation in Progress' briefings are updated at key stages throughout the legislative procedure.

Regional governance in the EU

03-10-2018

The quality of public institutions has a major impact on social and economic development at regional level. Regions with high government effectiveness, low corruption and high-quality public services tend to have higher outcomes in terms of economic performance, social inclusion, environmental sustainability, education, health, and subjective well-being. Administrative capacity-building is therefore crucial, as it has a positive impact on creating conditions conducive to economic and social progress ...

The quality of public institutions has a major impact on social and economic development at regional level. Regions with high government effectiveness, low corruption and high-quality public services tend to have higher outcomes in terms of economic performance, social inclusion, environmental sustainability, education, health, and subjective well-being. Administrative capacity-building is therefore crucial, as it has a positive impact on creating conditions conducive to economic and social progress. The 2017 European Quality of Government Index (EQI) shows that institutional quality still varies across EU regions, but the traditional north-south and east-west divisions seem to be slowly blurring. While northern countries remain at the top, the eastern regions have made the most improvement compared with previous editions of the index. Some southern regions, meanwhile, have experienced a decline over the past few years. In the 2014 to 2020 period, EU cohesion policy has offered a variety of funding sources and instruments to support local and regional authorities. Investments are available for enhancing the management of EU funds and for building long-term institutional capacity. Specific actions include training for civil servants, cross-border cooperation, e-government tools, efforts to optimise procedures, and modernisation of public service delivery.

Measuring social progress in EU regions

01-10-2018

The social dimension has long been present on the European Union agenda. Recently, it has gained greater significance, particularly in contexts such as the EU governance framework (the European Semester), and economic and monetary union, as well as the reflection process on the future of the EU. Initiatives to measure the EU's social situation and the social impact of EU policies have produced a number of indicators that complement the assessment of economic performance. These measurements can help ...

The social dimension has long been present on the European Union agenda. Recently, it has gained greater significance, particularly in contexts such as the EU governance framework (the European Semester), and economic and monetary union, as well as the reflection process on the future of the EU. Initiatives to measure the EU's social situation and the social impact of EU policies have produced a number of indicators that complement the assessment of economic performance. These measurements can help present a more comprehensive picture of the state of European societies. The EU regional Social Progress Index provides an overview of aspects including health, access to education, environmental quality, housing, personal rights and inclusion. The 2016 findings give a mixed picture of social progress across EU regions. Generally, Nordic and Dutch regions figure among the top performers, with southern and eastern regions lagging behind. However, the picture becomes more nuanced when specific dimensions of social progress are taken into account. The index also shows that social progress scores do not always correlate with a region's GDP. Improving social progress is also relevant to EU cohesion policy, one of the goals of which is to achieve social, economic and territorial cohesion, while also reducing regional disparities. Regional investments can therefore be geared to support both economic performance and social progress. The role and application of new indicators and indexes in this process is currently being explored with a view to establishing how they can be used in policy to support real change, for instance by monitoring developments, identifying priorities, and evaluating progress. This is an updated edition of a briefing published in November 2017.

Structural Reform Support Programme: financial envelope and general objective

05-09-2018

The Structural Reform Support Programme for the period 2017 to 2020 has been running since May 2017. It provides voluntary assistance to Member States for preparation and implementation of growth-sustaining administrative and structural reforms. In light of the high take-up of the programme, the changes proposed by the Commission expand its scope to cover support for euro membership preparations and increase its financial envelope from €142.8 million to €222.8 million. The European Parliament is ...

The Structural Reform Support Programme for the period 2017 to 2020 has been running since May 2017. It provides voluntary assistance to Member States for preparation and implementation of growth-sustaining administrative and structural reforms. In light of the high take-up of the programme, the changes proposed by the Commission expand its scope to cover support for euro membership preparations and increase its financial envelope from €142.8 million to €222.8 million. The European Parliament is due to vote on the text agreed with Council during its September plenary session.

Statute for social and solidarity-based enterprises

27-06-2018

Social enterprises combine entrepreneurial activity with a positive social, environmental or community impact. However, they also struggle with regulatory obstacles, access to funding and visibility. No consensus exists on a definition of 'social enterprise', which makes their regulation and funding problematic across various systems. The European Parliament is expected to vote in July 2018 on an own-initiative report, which calls on the European Commission to improve the regulatory framework by ...

Social enterprises combine entrepreneurial activity with a positive social, environmental or community impact. However, they also struggle with regulatory obstacles, access to funding and visibility. No consensus exists on a definition of 'social enterprise', which makes their regulation and funding problematic across various systems. The European Parliament is expected to vote in July 2018 on an own-initiative report, which calls on the European Commission to improve the regulatory framework by creating a 'European social economy label' scheme aimed at providing coherent legal rules in support of social enterprises.

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