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Cohesion Policy

The objective of Cohesion Policy in the EU Treaty is to strengthen economic and social cohesion in the European Union. To this end, less-developed regions and countries receive transfers from the Structural and Cohesion Funds.

This funding is used for measures to support growth and employment, such as investing in infrastructure, improving environmental standards, and investing in human capital and administrative capacity. The goal is to bring economic performance and living standards up to those of the rest of the EU.

The financial weight of Cohesion Policy has grown gradually in the past decades; it currently consumes over one-third of the European Union’s budget. At the same time, Cohesion Policy has undergone several important changes. Most recently, the new set of regulations for 2007-2013 reinforced the link between Cohesion Policy and the Lisbon Strategy, introduced simplifications to programming and implementation, and placed a larger emphasis on the territorial and thematic concentration of support. However, there is further scope for improving the policy along these lines.

The role of DG ECFIN

DG ECFIN contributes, in co-operation with the Directorate-General for Regional Policy (DG REGIO), to the economic analysis and evaluation of policy proposals related to economic and social cohesion. It analyses real convergence at the national and regional level, and monitors macroeconomic developments that can be relevant to the design and execution of Cohesion Policy. Furthermore, it analyses the linkages between Cohesion Policy implementation and public finances.

In order to support the effective and efficient use of the Structural and Cohesion Funds and to enhance their positive macroeconomic impact, DG ECFIN follows horizontal issues such as the preparation of future legislative proposals for Cohesion Policy, and the ex-post evaluation of Structural Fund assistance. However, it also engages in country-specific issues in the programming process, and provides comments on national strategies and Operational Programmes. For the verification of additionality, meaning that Structural Funds must be in addition to national funding and not replace them, and which is an integral part of the programming process, DG ECFIN provides DG REGIO with technical support.

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