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A ‘modernised’ Cohesion Policy for 2021-2027

Following the publication of the budget proposal for the next programming period, the Commission yesterday announced its proposal for a new regulatory framework for Cohesion Policy.

Regional Policy has until now been one of the EU’s main investment policies. By targeting the Union’s most disadvantaged regions, it seeks to reduce disparities between regions by developing job creation, competitiveness or economic growth, and by promoting improved quality of life or sustainable development. To achieve these objectives, the Union allocated a budget of 351.8 million euro, almost one third of the total EU budget, for the period 2014-2020.

In its seventh report on economic, social and territorial cohesion (9 October 2017), the Commission presented a review of Cohesion Policy achievements. While noting its major role in the recovery of the European economy, the Commission nevertheless observed that too many regions still had a GDP per capita and employment rate below pre-crisis levels.

This report thus underlined the need to modify Cohesion Policy in order to adapt it to new European challenges: the digital revolution, globalisation, demographic change, social cohesion, economic convergence or climate change. The Commission has therefore just proposed a modernised Cohesion Policy for the period 2021-2027 with a provisional budget of 330 624 million euro in commitment appropriations to continue investing in all EU regions while maintaining the existing distinction between categories of regions (less developed, in transition, more developed).

The Commission published this week, its proposal for a new single regulation covering the European Structural Investment Funds (ESIF), the Asylum and Migration Fund, the Internal Security Fund and the Border and Visa Management Instrument. This new framework is meant to simplify the procedural rules by proposing less complex rules for the management and granting of these funds.

Five new strategic objectives have also been identified for cohesion policy: a smarter Europe (innovation), a greener Europe with zero carbon emissions, a more connected Europe (transport and communication networks), a more social Europe and a Europe closer to citizens. The ERDF and the Cohesion Fund will invest primarily in the first two objectives.

The Commission recalled the importance of the prompt adoption of the overall budget for the next programming period considering that delays similar to those known for the current programming “would mean that 100 000 EU-funded projects could not start on time”.


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