The Conference ‘Challenges for the new Cohesion policy in 2014-20’ was organised on 4-6 February 2015 in Riga to facilitate an academic and policy debate between the academic community, EU and national officials. Its aims were to make policy officials and practitioners aware of the research being conducted on Cohesion policy, and to give academics a better understanding of the concerns and priorities of the policy communities at EU and national levels.

Organised by DG Regio, the Regional Studies Association, the Latvian EU Presidency and the University of Latvia, the Conference brought together 197 participants from academia and policy for three days of discussions. Some 97 papers were presented in 25 parallel workshops covering a wide range of themes on the design, implementation and performance of Cohesion policy – past, present and future.

The Conference took place at a time when the EU is moving into the implementation phase of Cohesion policy for the 2014-20 period. The budgetary and regulatory frameworks were agreed in 2013, and for the past 18 months, the European Commission and Member State authorities have been negotiating the Partnership Agreements and Operational Programmes; many have already been adopted, and some programmes have been launched. The cornerstones of the reformed Cohesion policy are a more strategic use of the renamed European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF), concentration of spending on the objectives of Europe 2020, improved performance and achievement of results, better governance, and more attention to urban and local development. These were the themes on which papers were invited and presented at the Conference.

The workshop presentations are available at


Professor John Bachtler

European Policies Research Centre

University of Strathclyde

February 2015