6th Report on Economic, Social and Territorial Cohesion
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This report comes out at the start of a new 7-year programming period for Cohesion Policy, when the situation in the EU is dramatically different from what it was at the start of the previous period in 2007. Then, the EU was still enjoying a sustained period of economic growth. Income levels were rising, as were employment rates and public investment, poverty and social exclusion were diminishing and regional disparities were shrinking. Nevertheless, despite the positive tendencies, disparities between regions of many different kinds remained wide.
The advent of the crisis changed all this. Since 2008, public debt has increased dramatically, income has declined for many people across the EU, employment rates have fallen in most countries and unemployment is higher than for over 20 years, while poverty and social exclusion have tended to become more widespread. At the same time, regional disparities in employment and unemployment rates have widened as have those in GDP per head in many countries while in others they have stopped narrowing. These developments mean that the Europe 2020 employment and poverty targets are now significantly further away than when they were first set and it will require a substantial effort over the next 6 years to achieve them in a context of significant budgetary constraints.
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