Lagging regions initiative
The EU cohesion policy aims to narrow the development gaps and reduce disparities among EU Member States and regions. With a budget of €454 billion for 2014-20, the European Structural and Investment Funds (ESI Funds) are the European Union's main investment policy tool to for supporting job creation and boosting growth. However, some EU regions have not been able to fully grasp the advantages of the investment opportunities due to effects of the economic crisis and structural problems.
The European Commission has launched an initiative in order to help these less developed regions catch up. Its aim is to analyse what holds back growth in less developed regions and to provide recommendations and assistance on how to unlock their growth potential. In other words, the less developed regions will be helped to better identify and respond their concrete needs and maximise the impact of the investment on the ground.
Thanks to a brand new approach, the European Commission will work hand in hand with the national and regional authorities, making available scientific knowledge and practical expertise to overcome obstacles to sustainable economic development, infrastructure and innovation. Another crucial asset of this initiative is the active involvement of all regional actors: universities and schools, employment organisations and trade unions, SMEs, investors, national and regional administrations and NGOs.
Romania and Poland are the first countries to pilot this initiative with two regions each, respectively the North-West and the North-East and Swietokrzyskie and Podkarpackie. Based on the results of the pilot projects, this model of cooperation of EU, national and regional actors will then be transferred to other European regions facing similar challenges.
Together with the Task Force for Better Implementation, the Lagging Regions initiative is part of the broader action launched by Commissioner for Regional Policy Corina Creţu to help Member States and regions improve the way they invest and manage Cohesion Policy funds. It also reflects the new philosophy of the reformed cohesion policy shifting the focus from quantitative absorption towards qualitative achievements of results for EU investments, in line with the Commission's political priorities.
- Commissioner Creţu Blog: Bringing Europe's "lagging regions" up to speed (22 June 2015)
- Memo: Improving how EU Member States and regions invest and manage EU Cohesion Policy funds