UNITY, SOLIDARITY, DIVERSITY FOR EUROPE, ITS PEOPLE
AND ITS TERRITORY.
CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
The evidence examined in this report shows that over the previous programming
periods (1989-93 and 1994-99) Community cohesion policies have had some
notable success. This is perhaps most visible in the case of the regions
where development is lagging behind, where there has been a general process
of catching up in economic and social terms.
At the same time, looking ahead to the next period of Community regional
polices, after the end of the current planning period in 2006, the analysis
in this report suggests the need to take particular account of:
- the important increase in social, economic and territorial disparities
resulting from enlargement;
- the far-reaching effects of ongoing social and economic trends such
as globalisation, the radical transformation of the European economy
towards knowledge-based activities, the changing structure of population
and so on.
In addition, a future reform of cohesion policies should take the opportunity
to increase the added value and the visibility of Community policy. Ideally,
reform should be accompanied by a strengthening of the effort to ensure
that the other Community policies contribute to cohesion as much as possible,
consistent with the pursuit of the objectives which they are principally
designed to achieve.
Drawing on the analysis of the report, the following sections attempt
to set out the main issues to be addressed in order to prepare the basis
for a debate on the future of cohesion policies. Here, it is important
to place the main issues in their correct logical order. Past experience
of reforming cohesion policy reveals an increasing tendency for discussion
at Member State (Council) level to concentrate on financial aspects. For
example, in the negotiations on the financial perspectives for 2000 to
2006 ('Agenda 2000'), discussions on cohesion policy probably focused
more on the amount and division of funding between Member States than
on the content of the policy. Arguably, a more logical order would be
to begin with the content - and, in particular, to identify priorities
for future cohesion policies - before going on to address issues relating
to the delivery system and financial allocations.