This event was the second in a series of EU Cohesion Policy Conferences and was held at the University of Latvia in Riga, from 4-6 February 2015. Co-organised by DG REGIO, the Latvian Presidency, the Regional Studies Association and the University of Latvia, the conference sought to debate the challenges facing cohesion policy up to 2020 and the related policy and research priorities. It brought together three different constituencies – members of the EU institutions, Member State representatives and members of academia.
The conference was organised around 5 thematic blocks:
- Economic geography and cohesion policy,
- Institutions and governance,
- Performance and results,
- EU economic governance and cohesion policy
Discussions focussed on understanding the current situation in Member State programming particularly how the principles of Cohesion policy are being translated into practice and highlighting the importance of good governance and administrative capacity. Many of the workshops focussed on 'what works in cohesion policy' - the effectiveness, relevance and utility of Structural and Investment Funds at EU level and in individual countries and regions, especially in addressing the goals of Europe 2020 and dealing with pressing challenges such as youth unemployment.
It was highlighted that building robust systems to measure performance is a challenge for both academics and policy makers, including assessing the impact of the policy for which a multiplicity of approaches is essential given the broad range of areas of intervention.
The new policy challenges existing arrangements of multi-level governance and encourages the involvement of new actors and the creation of new partnerships across administrative boundaries. The quality of institutions and governance is a crucial element for the effective implementation of public policies and cohesion policy in particular. However, it was also found that context mattered and that it was not possible to make a simple causal linkage between the quality of governance and economic performance. It was also considered important to look deeper into what was meant by good governance and good institutions.
The conference provided insights into the evolving economic policy context, the dynamics of regional growth processes and the way in which regional policy sought to promote economic growth. Different approaches co-exist (econometric, non-parametric) and many different factors can contribute to this: human capital, infrastructure, the resilience of regions.
The importance of economic governance and the relationship of Cohesion policy with the Juncker Investment Plan and the European Strategic Investment Fund were discussed, highlighting the challenges of making most effective use of available instruments.
The papers presented at the conference and presentations made along with web-streamed sessions can be found on this website.