Call us

Addressing Cohesion Policy’s identity crisis in a changing European Union

Cohesion policy / DISCUSSION PAPER
Alison Hunter

Date: 15/02/2023
Since the late 1980s Cohesion Policy has been one of the cornerstone policies of the European Union. However, nowadays, a different, bolder Cohesion Policy debate is needed, reflecting a radically changed global environment.

This Discussion Paper focuses on the upcoming review of the post-2027 Multi Annual Financial Framework and the debate concerning the future EU Cohesion Policy. It argues that Cohesion Policy’s purpose requires reinvention, not an incremental upgrade.

Four overarching themes are analysed, reframing Cohesion Policy with a strategic, long-term investment perspective: EU resilience, security, strategic autonomy, and reforms. The author then proposes five recommendations which weave together these themes with the policy’s long-standing core features:

  1. Acknowledge the need to review the Cohesion Policy’s purpose. The EU should breathe new life into the Cohesion Policy debate.
  2. Revitalise Cohesion Policy’s long-term value by defending its pillars. The EU should re-confirm Cohesion Policy’s role as a structural policy.
  3. Position Cohesion Policy as the ‘guardian’ of EU place-based policymaking. Cohesion Policy should champion the “future-proofing” of regional resilience.
  4. Articulate Cohesion Policy’s role in the evolving EU governance and reform agenda. The EU should reach beyond the Recovery and Resilience Facility to reclaim Cohesion Policy’s role in structural reform. 
  5. Improve Cohesion Policy’s convening power to catalyse deeper EU innovation cooperation. The future Cohesion Policy must deliver a more coordinated approach to the EU’s innovation agenda.

The Paper concludes that the future Cohesion Policy should evolve in lockstep with citizens’ needs. This will not be easy. As discussions on the EU’s future have been sidelined in this crisis-prone area, the challenges ahead require strong leadership and coordination. The post-2027 EU Cohesion Policy will have much to contribute to rebuilding the EU’s future vision.

Read the full paper here.
Photo credits:

The latest from the EPC, right in your inbox
Sign up for our email newsletter
14-16 rue du Trône, 1000 Brussels, Belgium | Tel.: +32 (0)2 231 03 40
EU Transparency Register No. 
89632641000 47
Privacy PolicyUse of Cookies | Contact us | © 2019, European Policy Centre

edit afsluiten