The results of the cohesion policy for the period 2007-2013
The European Commission has published its strategic report for the year 2013 giving an overview of the use of the structural funds in the European Union for the period 2007-2013.
Structural funds, e.g. the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), the Cohesion Fund and the European Social Fund (ESF) are financial instruments used to implement the European Union’s cohesion policy. During the period 2007-2013, the EU has dedicated € 347 billion Euros, i.e. 35% of its total budget for the implementation of this policy.
The concrete results of the cohesion policy
The Commission report paints a rather positive assessment of the use of the structural funds. By supporting innovative projects that create jobs, these funds contribute to growth in Europe and ultimately improve the situation of citizens, all this helping to overcome the crisis.
Therefore, in the leading and strategic areas for the EU, the cohesion policy showed real results:
– In terms of infrastructure, the Structural Funds have increased to 1.9 million the number of people that have access to broadband networks, nearly 5.7 million more people are connected to waste-water projects’ systems, and nearly 334 km of rail and 460 km of roads were built
– Regarding Innovation and support to SME, one of the most powerful source of growth in the EU, nearly 53 240 research projects have been funded and 53 160 start-ups benefited from financial support
– Eventually, regarding employment, the cohesion policy have allowed the creation of 400 000 jobs, including 15 000 in the research area and 167 000 in SMEs
These results are particularly encouraging as other projects will be funded, some of them ending only in 2015. In addition, data provided by Member States usually stop in 2011: this therefore suggests that the actual results for the period 2007-2013 will be even more promising.
However, the Commission raises a problem: the results remain disparate between Member States and it looks like progress is still possible, regarding the effectiveness of cohesion funds, by concentrating the financial resources on priorities with a real impact on growth.
The Cohesion policy for the next programming period 2014-2020
The Structural Funds are at the heart of both discussions on the budget and the next 2014-2020 programming period.
€ 376 billion should be allocated to these funds, that should focus on more core priorities (as innovation, job creation, energy…) while giving greater emphasis on results and evaluation.