Cohesion Policy (general)

7th Report on Economic, Social and Territorial Cohesion

The report shows how cohesion has evolved in EU regions over recent years and analyses the impact of national policies, cohesion policy and other EU policies. By bringing together data and findings, the report aims to check how cohesive, or divided, Europe is from an economic, social and territorial point of view. Moreover, it reviews the measures linking the effectiveness of the European Structural and Investment (ESI) Funds to sound economic governance.

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ERDF briefing (European Parliament, October 2016)

The European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) is one of the European Structural and Investment (ESI) Funds. It has the largest budget – 43.2 % of the total allocation for the ESI Funds – and wide-ranging investment priorities. Its action focuses on the development and structural adjustment of regions whose development is lagging behind. About 95 % of ERDF resources is spent on investment for growth and jobs. The remaining 5 % supports European territorial cooperation programmes (formerly known as Interreg).

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ESF briefing (European Parliament, February 2017)

The European Social Fund (ESF) is one of the European Structural and Investment Funds. It promotes quality employment, social inclusion, education and training, and enhances the institutional capacity of public authorities. All EU Member States are eligible for ESF support
through corresponding operational programmes. The Youth Employment Initiative (YEI) complements the ESF actions addressing youth unemployment. The ESF was created in 1957 and has a long history of actions and achievements. It has also not avoided criticism. In the
current MFF the implementation of the Fund has been rather slow, but it is expected to reach full cruising speed in 2017.

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Briefing: EFSI and ESI Funds – Complementarity or Contradiction? (European Parliament, January 2017)

Shortly after beginning its 2014-2019 mandate, the European Commission proposed a new investment Plan for Europe, often referred to as the ‘Juncker Plan’. The Investment Plan was seen as a top priority for the European Commission, aimed at strengthening Europe’s competitiveness and stimulating investment in order to create more jobs.

The European Parliament was generally positive regarding EFSI, however, there were criticisms regarding its scope, remit and overall output in the European economy. One of the issues raised in policy fora is the complex relationship between EFSI and the European Structural and Investment Funds (ESI Funds) as well as EFSI’s overall impact on the territorial cohesion objective of European Union regional policy. Various stakeholders have also mentioned that EFSI may run contrary to the aims of the ESI Funds, thus creating a competitive relationship with EU regional policy.

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Study: Indicators in Cohesion Policy (European Parliament, May 2017)

GDP per capita is the sole criterion for identifying specific conditions of eligibility to the benefit of the ESIF. This criterion does not
reveal really the well-being of local people. This study examines alternative measures, like final consumption expenses or a more sophisticated
synthetic index, and their impact on the eligibility of the regions.

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Cohesion Policy (specific)

Study: Integrated Use of ESI Funds to Address Social Challenges (European Parliament, July 2017)

The study aims to analyse the implementation of integrated approaches under the ESI Funds in addressing challenges related to social inclusion, including integration of migrants and refugees. Programme logic of intervention, combinations of thematic objectives, synergies with other EC policy instruments and the use of integrated tools are analysed for a set of programmes. Conclusions and recommendations are provided for the 2014-2020 and the next programming period.

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Briefing: Cohesion Policy and Disability (European Parliament, March 2017)

People with disabilities are among the most vulnerable in society. While disability policy is primarily a Member State competence, the EU is committed to improving the living conditions of all people with disabilities and, in particular, to addressing the issue of institutionalised care. Cohesion policy can play a key role in this process.

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Briefing: Cohesion Policy and Marginalised Communities (European Parliament, October 2016)

While there is no definition of marginalised communities under the EU Treaties, certain groups such as the Roma suffer from a combination of factors including discrimination and material deprivation, and are therefore a particular area of focus in discussions on marginalised communities. EU structural funds have not always taken full account of these communities during previous programming periods, while their involvement in the preparation and implementation of programmes has been limited. The current 2014-2020 cohesion framework puts forward new measures with a wider scope for improving the situation of such groups, including an investment priority targeting marginalised communities. Many stakeholders argue, however, that Roma issues need to be mainstreamed across all policy areas in order to achieve lasting structural change.

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In-Depth Analysis: Harnessing Cohesion Policy to Tackle Social Exclusion – Opportunities and Limitations (European Parliament, May 2016)

The Europe 2020 strategy was launched in 2010 to help the European Union to navigate a stable course towards the three key objectives of smart, sustainable and inclusive growth. Building on the Lisbon Agenda, it incorporated a new social dimension to the blueprint for EU growth through a headline target to reduce by 20 million the number of people in poverty in the EU by 2020. Post-2008, however, the effects of the economic crisis dampened progress towards meeting the objectives of the strategy and, in turn, fostered debate on how EU structural and cohesion spending – representing over one-third of the Union’s total budget – could help Member States achieve these ambitious goals.

The revision of the cohesion policy framework for 2014-2020 provided an opportunity to consider how the EU’s primary investment arm could be used in support of the aims of the strategy. The measures available under the cohesion policy framework can play a key role in tackling social exclusion, with structural funds accounting for the majority of the public investment budget in many Member States.

Views of stakeholders provide a critical perspective which can help assess the limitations of cohesion policy for tackling social exclusion. This paper identifies several problem areas including the existence of overly complex procedures for accessing funding, a focus on indicators rather than on results, a failure to identify key target groups and a lack of coordination between ESIF measures and national strategies. While some of these limitations may be addressed by improving national level procedures, others are more structural in nature and require EU level action, providing food for thought for the upcoming discussions on the future of cohesion policy post-2020.

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Briefing: Cohesion Policy and the Integration of Migrants in Urban Areas (European Parliament, October 2016)

With migration largely an urban reality, the successful integration of migrants in our towns and cities is of key importance if Europe is to find a long-term solution to the migrant question. The EU’s cohesion policy can provide support for countries in this area through investments under the European Social Fund (ESF) and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), with the ERDF Regulation introducing a number of new measures to give cities more say in cohesion programming and implementation during the 2014-2020 programming period, including on issues such as the inclusion of migrants. (…) Stakeholders point to the low-level of involvement of local and regional authorities in decisions on the allocation of structural funds and the modest resources available as factors that limit the extent to which European structural and investment funds can truly support the integration of migrants at local level and have called for a greater role for towns and cities in this area, including direct access to funding.

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Briefing: Smart Specialisation – The concept and its application to EU Cohesion Policy (European Parliament, October 2016)

The persistent gap between European regions as regards research and innovation performance provides a strong case for policies tailored to the local context that foster structural change. This is where smart specialisation comes into play, providing a path for innovation-driven differentiation and economic transformation, building on local assets and comparative strengths. To achieve maximum impact, efforts and investments are expected to focus on a limited number of priorities, identified through a discovery process in which entrepreneurs play a central role. This place-based approach and logic of prioritisation have been found to be broadly consistent with the overall reforms of EU cohesion policy, aiming to improve spending efficiency and impact. Consequently, having a research and innovation strategy for smart specialisation (RIS3) in place has become a prerequisite to receiving funding from the European Regional Development Fund. Currently, 121 smart specialisation strategies are in place at national or regional levels. With a view to assessing how they are being implemented, the European Commission organised a high-level conference in June 2016 to evaluate progress and difficulties to date. The European Parliament, in a newly adopted resolution on RIS3 and cohesion policy, asked for periodic (annual and mid-term) monitoring of the strategies’ implementation, and called on the European Commission to push for a review in 2017 to enhance their efficiency and effectiveness. This is an update of an earlier briefing published in January 2016.

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Cohesion Funding

Draft thematic guidance fiche for desk officers on Health Investments in ESIF 2014-2020 (European Commission)

The Guide provides policy guidance for key priority areas of investment in health intended as a tool to inform recommendations to Member States on health investments under the ESI Funds.

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Collection of Guidance on the Structural and Investment Funds 2014-2020 (European Commission)
ESIF Data Tool (European Commission)
At a glance: Cohesion Policy Implementation in the EU28 (European Parliament, September 2015)

EU Regional Policy is an investment policy. Via various funding programmes, it supports job creation, competitiveness, economic growth, improved quality of life and sustainable development. These investments contribute to the delivery of the Europe 2020 strategy. Regional policy also aims to reduce the economic, social and territorial disparities between Europe’s regions.

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European Funding for Health in Wales – Part 1 – Horizon2020 and the Third EU Health Programme

This funding catalogue is the first in a series of information materials to link key European Union (EU) funding opportunities to Wales’ health and well-being priorities. The series will provide an overview of available funding as well as key information and sources on calls and applications. This first issue covers Horizon 2020 and the Third Health Programme.

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European Funding for Health in Wales – Part 2 – European Regional Funds

This funding catalogue is the first in a series of information materials to link key European Union (EU) funding opportunities to Wales’ health and well-being priorities. The series provides an overview of available funding as well as key information and sources on calls and applications. This second issue explores European Regional Funding such as Structural Funds (European Social Fund and Regional Development Fund) and Territorial Cooperation Funds (Interreg).

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Briefing Partnership within Cohesion (European Parliament, June 2017)

Helping to give stakeholders a voice in decisions that concern them directly, the partnership principle lies at the heart of the EU’s cohesion policy and plays an important role in enforcing the legitimacy of EU policymaking. Although already well-established in previous periods, it was strengthened in the 2014-2020 cohesion policy framework, with the Common Provisions Regulation requiring the creation of partnerships for all European and Structural Investment Fund (ESIF) programmes and a new European Code of Conduct on Partnership identifying principles for ensuring that the involvement of partners in cohesion programming and delivery is timely, meaningful and transparent. While a 2016 European Commission study found that the level of stakeholder involvement has improved since the 2007-2013 period, the view among stakeholders such as local and regional authorities, economic and social partners and civil society organisations has been more mixed. Key problem areas include concerns regarding how partners are selected, the quality of the consultation process and the low take-up of stakeholders’ views. This suggests a need for tighter measures to ensure improved partnerships in the future and, as negotiations get underway on the shape of cohesion policy post 2020, stakeholders have called for the partnership principle to be strengthened in the next programming period.

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Briefing: Understanding Social Innovation (European Parliament, October 2016)

Social innovation has become an important concept in European policy-making, cutting across sectors and disciplines. However, despite the increasingly frequent use of the term there is no consensus as regards its definition. As a result, in part of extensive research work at EU level, it is currently interpreted as a ubiquitous concept that entails new ideas (products, services and models) that simultaneously meet social needs (more effectively than alternatives) and create new social relationships or forms of collaboration. The concept is strongly related to notions of solutions and transformation. European policies promote social innovation in several sectors, such as the single market, employment and social affairs, health, education, energy, environment, and research. Within the EU, numerous policy and financial tools together with the (previous and current) research programme contribute to this process. However, there is still much to be done in terms of finding a comprehensive and well accepted theoretical approach to social innovation, efficient funding and regulatory environments, and also a way to measure its social (added) value. Without these social innovation runs the risk of becoming an empty buzzword in policy-making.

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Briefing: How health systems can address health inequalities through improved use of Structural Funds (WHO Europe, 2010)

This briefing explores how Structural Funds (SF) can contribute to the reduction of health inequities in the EU and the potential role of health systems and public health infrastructures in achieving this. It aims to

  • describe opportunities for health systems to influence the use of SF to reduce health inequities in the EU by
    describing three opportunities: stewarding a “health and equity in all policies” approach to SF allocation,
    funding measures to safeguard the health and social inclusion of disadvantaged populations, and using SF
    to support the strengthening of health systems in more disadvantaged regions;
  • describe challenges in using SF to reduce health inequities in the EU, specifically in relation to the
    sustainability of SF-financed interventions and insufficient capacity and competency of health staff engaging
    in SF processes; and
  • explore potential action areas for health system stakeholders to increase their capacity and competency to
    engage in SF processes and make the case for investments to reduce inequities through actions within and
    beyond the health sector.

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