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Towards Cohesion Policy 4.0

Towards Cohesion Policy 4.0

NEW IDEAS FOR POST-2020 COHESION POLICY: STRUCTURAL TRANSFORMATION AND INCLUSIVE GROWTH

The White Paper on the Future of Europe makes a powerful statement about the current precarious state of European integration and its uncertain future.  The continuing effects of the financial, economic and migration crises are associated with reduced confidence and trust in democratic institutions and politicians, and a rise in populism, threatening the unity of the EU. A fundamental cause is the highly unequal impact of globalisation and technological change on different parts of the EU.  Many regions have been able to exploit the opportunities of structural change, but equally there are regions and social groups that have been left behind.  The challenge for the EU is not only to accelerate growth but also to resume convergence to ensure that all parts of the EU are able to be able to exploit the growing globalisation of trade and technological change. Growth needs to be sustainable, cohesive and inclusive, i.e. deliver prosperity across the whole continent.

As the debate on the direction of the EU and the post-2020 Multiannual Financial Framework intensifies, there are important questions about how the EU can best deploy its budgetary resources to meet the challenges facing the Union. The continuing effects of the financial, economic and migration crises are associated with reduced confidence and trust in democratic institutions and politicians, and a rise in populism, threatening the unity of the EU.   This paper makes the case for a new approach to structural transformation, growth and cohesion, arguing that the EU not only needs to accelerate sustainable growth but also needs to resume convergence so that all parts of the EU are able to exploit the opportunities from the globalisation of trade and technological change.  It sets out a common policy vision and a coherent framework for all EU policies – through regulatory reform, directly managed and territorial policies – with a collective focus on improving the ecosystems for structural change at different levels.

Cohesion Policy plays a crucial role in ensuring territorially differentiated policy support to promote structural transformation through innovation-oriented ecosystems at regional and local levels. The key principles of the 2013 regulatory reform need to be maintained but changes are needed to maximise opportunities to influence structural transformation, including: better coordination of funding instruments; recognition of the different territorial opportunities and challenges for frontier, intermediate and lagging regions; more emphasis on human capital; strengthened conditionalities; investment in capacity-building; and a significantly rationalised and differentiated implementation system.

Towards Cohesion Policy 4.0: Structural Transformation and Inclusive Growth is a new report on post-2020 Cohesion Policy written by John Bachtler, Joaquim Oliveira Martins, Peter Wostner and Piotr Zuber and published by the Regional Studies Association (RSA Europe).

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