The Future of Cohesion Policy in Richer Regions
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One of the great unresolved debates about Cohesion Policy is the extent to which it should be deployed in relatively richer regions, especially if these richer regions also happen to be in relatively prosperous Member States. Although the consensus among the European institutions (and, indeed, among the main political groups in the European Parliament) is that a ‘renationalisation’ of Cohesion Policy – in which responsibility for assuring cohesion would revert to Member States – should be rejected, it is an issue that deserves serious reflection. Relevant considerations are not just economic, but also constitutional, political and even administrative. Although the resources allocated within Cohesion Policy to richer regions have declined as a proportion of the total, they remain substantial and over the 2007-13 span of the current Multi-Annual Financial Framework, some 18.5% of total cohesion outlays has been allocated for spending outside the poorest regions.