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Economic and social cohesion
As an expression of solidarity between the EU Member States and their regions, economic and social cohesion aims to achieve balanced socio-economic development throughout the EU.
Economic and social cohesion is implemented through the Regional Policy of the EU, which was incorporated into the EC Treaty by the Maastricht Treaty of 1992. Regional Policy reduces structural disparities between regions and Member States through a variety of operations that are financed by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), the European Social Fund (ESF) and the Cohesion Fund.
Every three years, the European Commission presents a report on progress made towards achieving economic and social cohesion and the part played in this by EU policies. For the programming period 2007-13, Regional Policy is the EU's second largest budget item, with a total allocation of €348 billion (2006 prices). During this period, Regional Policy will continue to support regions which have not completed the process of economic and social convergence in real terms. However, Structural and Cohesion funding concentrates more on achieving the EU's objectives of the Lisbon Strategy promoting competitiveness, growth and job creation.