ENLARGING SOLIDARITY, UNITING EUROPE
SECOND REPORT ON ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL COHESION
The role of the Cohesion Report
Article 159 of the Treaty states that every three years the Commission
should present 'a report on the progress made towards achieving economic
and social cohesion and on the manner in which the various means (including
different Community policies) provided for in (the) article have contributed
to it.' This report is the response to this requirement. Article 45 of
the General Regulation on the Structural Funds specifies the contents
of the report.
The Commission adopted the First Cohesion Report at the end of 1996.
This was the basis for the first Cohesion Forum held in April 1997 and
for the proposals contained in 'Agenda 2000 - for a stronger and wider
Union,' which led to the reform of cohesion policy adopted by the Council
in June 1999.
The Commission has chosen to present the Second Report on Economic and
Social Cohesion at the beginning of 2001, which falls immediately after
the first phase of the implementation of the reform of the Structural
Funds, and after certain key decisions have been taken as regards financial
allocations and geographical eligibility for support. It is, therefore,
already possible at this stage to make a broad ex ante assessment of the
possible impact of the reform.
The second Report also contains an updating of the regional analysis
contained in the Sixth and last Periodic Report on the situation and development
of regions published in 1999. Such an updating is more necessary than
before since the Cohesion Reports replace the Periodic Reports which the
Commission has published since the beginning of the 1980s.
First analysis of cohesion in an enlarged Union
As the Treaty and the general Regulation on the Structural Funds require,
the Report analyses the changes in cohesion and the factors which contribute
to it. Without prejudging the timing, the procedures or the order of countries
entering, the working hypothesis adopted relates to an enlarged Union
of 27 Member States.
So far as the data allow, each part of the Report includes consideration
of the situation in an enlarged Union. This should be the context for
analysis, rather than in terms of a more static analysis of the respective
situation in the present 15 Member States and the 12 countries with which
accession negotiations are taking place. An analysis of regional features
in Turkey, the 13th candidate country with which negotiations have not
yet begun, is included separately. This will be the subject of a more
systematic analysis in future reports after negotiations have begun.
Launching the debate
The report develops a set of conclusions and recommendations with a view
to opening up a debate on the future of cohesion policy after 2006 in
an enlarged European Union. The Commission is convinced that for the future,
important changes will be required to a policy which was designed for
the present Member States. While enlargement is major part of the explanation
for the need for change, it is not the only one in view of the far reaching
economic and social and territorial changes affecting the present EU15.
These changes are also examined in the report.
The debate which will ensue will involve the EU institutions and agencies,
Member States and regional and local authorities, as well as the relevant
economic and social interests, non-governmental organisations, universities
and other academic institutions. The Commission itself is organising a
Cohesion Forum in Brussels on 21 and 22 May 2001 to provide an opportunity
for the exchange of ideas and discussion of future cohesion policy. The
candidate countries will be fully involved in this consultation exercise.
At a later stage, the Commission will set out proposals which will then
be presented to the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers for
a new cohesion policy to take effect from 1 January 2007.