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Outermost regions of the EU

15-05-2020

The European Union's outermost regions qualify for special treatment owing to structural difficulties, such as remoteness, difficult topography or economic dependence on a few products, that can severely hamper their development. Specific support mechanisms exist under cohesion, agricultural and fisheries policies, with the Commission outlining measures aimed at assisting outermost regions in communications published in 2004, 2008, and 2012. Nevertheless, with the outermost regions continuing to ...

The European Union's outermost regions qualify for special treatment owing to structural difficulties, such as remoteness, difficult topography or economic dependence on a few products, that can severely hamper their development. Specific support mechanisms exist under cohesion, agricultural and fisheries policies, with the Commission outlining measures aimed at assisting outermost regions in communications published in 2004, 2008, and 2012. Nevertheless, with the outermost regions continuing to face numerous challenges in areas such as mobility, unemployment and climate change, discussions were launched on the formulation of a new strategy, which was published in October 2017. Following extensive consultation with stakeholders, the 2017 communication offers a new approach to supporting the outermost regions' development by optimising their assets, exploiting new opportunities for growth and job creation, and focusing more on their specific circumstances and needs. To this end, the communication outlines a series of concrete and coordinated actions to be taken at European Union (EU) and national level, as well as by the outermost regions, and calls for stronger partnership between outermost regions, Member States and the EU. In May 2018, the European Commission put forward a broad package of proposals for the 2021-2027 period, providing the legislative framework needed to guide this strategy beyond 2020. Taking account of the specific needs of the outermost regions in a total of 21 proposals, the Commission has ensured the continuation of many of the special measures supporting their development. However, these proposals have met with a mixed response on the part of the outermost regions, particularly when it comes to the proposed reductions in co-financing rates and financial resources. Published in March 2020, the European Commission report on the implementation of the 2017 communication considers that it has delivered concrete results and that the process of implementing the communication is going in the right direction. Yet with development continuing to lag behind in the outermost regions, it is clear that challenges persist. It remains to be seen whether the 2017 strategy and the special measures put forward for the post-2020 period will together be sufficient to close the inequalities gap with the rest of the EU, and achieve the ambitious new goals of the Green Deal. This is a revised and updated version of a briefing from January 2018.

Towards a renewed territorial agenda for the EU

31-03-2020

The main objective of the territorial agenda is to strengthen territorial cohesion, an EU principle that seeks to ensure the balanced development of the EU and reduce its regional disparities. Agreed in May 2011 and the culmination of a process begun many years earlier with the European Spatial Development Perspective, the Territorial Agenda 2020 is currently being revised with a view to establishing a continued role for this initiative within the EU's new cohesion policy framework beyond 2020. Aimed ...

The main objective of the territorial agenda is to strengthen territorial cohesion, an EU principle that seeks to ensure the balanced development of the EU and reduce its regional disparities. Agreed in May 2011 and the culmination of a process begun many years earlier with the European Spatial Development Perspective, the Territorial Agenda 2020 is currently being revised with a view to establishing a continued role for this initiative within the EU's new cohesion policy framework beyond 2020. Aimed at ensuring the implementation of the Europe 2020 strategy in line with the principle of territorial cohesion, the Territorial Agenda 2020 strives to promote the integration of the territorial dimension across many different policies. To deliver on this ambition, it has established an action-oriented political framework based around six territorial priorities and a series of implementation mechanisms to make EU territorial cohesion a reality. However, with the territorial agenda a low political priority in past years, implementation has remained weak, while the process itself has been beset by challenges, such as fragile intergovernmental cooperation and a low level of awareness. This situation has been compounded by the complex and abstract nature of the territorial agenda, making it difficult to communicate its aims and objectives. Set up in 2018 during the Austrian Presidency, an intergovernmental taskforce is currently leading the work on the renewal of the territorial agenda, the aim being to conclude the process under the German Presidency, with the signing of a 2030 territorial agenda in December 2020. A draft version of the territorial agenda was published in December 2019, underpinned by two overarching priorities, a 'just Europe' and a 'green Europe', establishing a clear link with the European Commission's current priorities and its strategy for sustainable growth, the European Green Deal. While this structure could well help embed the territorial agenda more firmly within the EU's policy-making system, increasing its relevance and improving its visibility, the ongoing coronavirus crisis looks set to overshadow these discussions in the coming months. This briefing has been drafted at the request of a member of the Committee of the Regions, under the Cooperation Agreement between Parliament and the Committee.

European Regional Development Fund and Cohesion Fund 2021-2027

30-01-2020

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. In the European Parliament, the file was allocated to the Committee on Regional Development, and on 27 March 2019 the Parliament adopted a legislative resolution in plenary constituting its first-reading position. The proposal is currently at trilogue stage with a view to an early second-reading agreement. Third edition. The 'EU Legislation in Progress' briefings are updated at key stages throughout the legislative procedure.

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 policies – Delivering for citizens: Regional policy

28-06-2019

The principal aim of the EU's regional policy, also known as cohesion policy, is to address the territorial, social and economic imbalances that exist between the different regions of the EU. Regional policy covers all regions and cities of the European Union, helping to support job creation, business competitiveness, economic growth, sustainable development, and to improve citizens' quality of life. To achieve these goals and address the diverse development needs in all EU regions, €351.8 billion ...

The principal aim of the EU's regional policy, also known as cohesion policy, is to address the territorial, social and economic imbalances that exist between the different regions of the EU. Regional policy covers all regions and cities of the European Union, helping to support job creation, business competitiveness, economic growth, sustainable development, and to improve citizens' quality of life. To achieve these goals and address the diverse development needs in all EU regions, €351.8 billion – almost one third of the total EU budget – has been set aside for cohesion policy for the 2014-2020 period. This financial support is distributed through two main funds: the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the Cohesion Fund (CF). Together with the European Social Fund (ESF), the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) and the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF), they make up the European structural and investment (ESI) funds, which provide support that can make a real difference to the lives of people in the EU's regions. With the current programming period (2014-2020) drawing to a close, work is now under way on planning the cohesion policy priorities for the next programming period (2021-2027). During its 2014-2019 term the European Parliament was called upon numerous times to adopt new legislative acts, amend older rules and to provide opinions on many topics relating to the EU's regional policy. Within the European Parliament, the Committee on Regional Policy is responsible for the Union's regional development and cohesion policy, as set out in the Treaties. In anticipation of its expected withdrawal from the EU, the UK, until now a net contributor to the EU budget, will no longer contribute to the post-2020 EU budget, which means that the EU will have fewer resources to allocate to its policies in the future, including cohesion policy. The European Parliament has, however, strongly advocated maintaining the level of funding for cohesion policy at its current level or even increasing it. This is an update of an earlier briefing issued in advance of the 2019 European elections.

Research for REGI Committee-The Agenda for Cohesion Policy in 2019-2024: Key issues for the REGI Committee

14-06-2019

This study reviews current and emerging issues for Cohesion Policy to support the work agenda of the European Parliament’s Committee for Regional Development during its new mandate for 2019-2024. The analysis focuses on issues relating to the committee’s competences and concludes by highlighting key policy themes and political questions for the debate on Cohesion Policy in 2021-27.

This study reviews current and emerging issues for Cohesion Policy to support the work agenda of the European Parliament’s Committee for Regional Development during its new mandate for 2019-2024. The analysis focuses on issues relating to the committee’s competences and concludes by highlighting key policy themes and political questions for the debate on Cohesion Policy in 2021-27.

Externý autor

Carlos Mendez, John Bachtler and Irene McMaster

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.

Effectiveness of cohesion policy: Learning from the project characteristics that produce the best results

15-04-2019

This study analyses the characteristics of cohesion policy projects that can contribute to successful outcomes. Our analysis is based on a literature survey, an econometric analysis and interviews with stakeholders. About two dozen project characteristics are considered, and their association with economic growth is studied using a novel methodology. Based on the findings, the study concludes with recommendations for cohesion policy reform.

This study analyses the characteristics of cohesion policy projects that can contribute to successful outcomes. Our analysis is based on a literature survey, an econometric analysis and interviews with stakeholders. About two dozen project characteristics are considered, and their association with economic growth is studied using a novel methodology. Based on the findings, the study concludes with recommendations for cohesion policy reform.

Externý autor

Mr Zsolt Darvas, Senior Fellow, Bruegel and Corvinus University of Budapest Mr Antoine Mathieu Collin contributed to this report while working at Bruegel as a Research Assistant Mr Jan Mazza, Research Assistant, Bruegel Ms Catarina Midoes, Research Assistant, Bruegel

Mechanism to resolve legal and administrative obstacles in a cross-border context

25-01-2019

Often isolated, and with generally poorer access to public services, the EU's border regions face a unique set of challenges. This has been recognised under Article 174 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, which provides that particular attention should be paid to cross-border regions when developing action to strengthen the EU's economic, social and territorial cohesion. Yet while the EU has provided significant support over the years, particularly within the framework of European ...

Often isolated, and with generally poorer access to public services, the EU's border regions face a unique set of challenges. This has been recognised under Article 174 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, which provides that particular attention should be paid to cross-border regions when developing action to strengthen the EU's economic, social and territorial cohesion. Yet while the EU has provided significant support over the years, particularly within the framework of European territorial cooperation, helping to strengthen connectivity and create new growth and jobs, numerous obstacles continue to hamper cross-border cooperation. Organised to identify these remaining bottlenecks, the Commission's 2015 cross-border review revealed legal and administrative barriers to be the main obstacle to cross-border cooperation while, in parallel, the 2015 Luxembourg Presidency put forward plans for an EU cross-border mechanism, with an informal working group set up to develop the idea. Both processes have fed into discussions in recent years to create a mechanism for cross-border areas, leading to the current proposal, introduced as part of the multiannual financial framework's cohesion policy package. Second edition. The 'EU Legislation in Progress' briefings are updated at key stages throughout the legislative procedure.

Research for REGI Committee - Externalities of Cohesion Policy

15-10-2018

The study investigates the effects of Cohesion Policy (CP) which occur in a country other than the one in which CP resources were actually spent. The study estimates that macroeconomic spillovers significantly contribute to the impact of CP. Spillovers directed to EU countries represent around 9% of the total annual CP expenditure. Other spillovers to Non-EU countries are around 8% of the CP expenditure. Macro and micro spillovers together arrive at the 21% of the annual CP expenditure 67% of which ...

The study investigates the effects of Cohesion Policy (CP) which occur in a country other than the one in which CP resources were actually spent. The study estimates that macroeconomic spillovers significantly contribute to the impact of CP. Spillovers directed to EU countries represent around 9% of the total annual CP expenditure. Other spillovers to Non-EU countries are around 8% of the CP expenditure. Macro and micro spillovers together arrive at the 21% of the annual CP expenditure 67% of which is distributed among EU countries. Around 20% of the CP expenditure can trigger sectoral spillover effects in the environment, transport and higher education sectors. The analysis demonstrates that externalities reinforce EU growth and competitiveness without CP deserting its convergence objective.

Externý autor

Andrea Naldini, Alessandro Daraio, Gessica Vella and Enrico Wolleb, Roman Römisch

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