ENLARGING SOLIDARITY, UNITING EUROPE
SECOND REPORT ON ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL COHESION
This, the second report on economic and social cohesion in the European
Union, pulls together a large amount of information, which is the product
of considerable work carried out by the European Commission services on
developments and prospects. With my colleagues, Anna Diamantopoulou and
Franz Fischler, I hope that you will find it useful.
The first report on cohesion, published by the Commission in 1996, laid
the basis for a thorough reform of EU regional policy. This was then formalised
in Agenda 2000 and entered into force last year.
The aim of this second report is no less important. It represents the
very first analysis of the situation in the present Member States and
regions in relation to economic and social cohesion and how this can be
expected to change after enlargement.
It also represents a solid basis for discussing the form which regional
policy will take in an enlarged Union. The need for regional policy will
not disappear with enlargement. On the contrary, given the resultant widening
of social and economic disparities, there will be additional justification
for EU intervention, based on the same principles and with the same ambition
for both the existing and future Member States.
At this stage, the report does not, of course, attempt to draw any firm
conclusions on the shape of cohesion policy after 2006. Instead, its aim
is to open a debate and to suggest clear and detailed proposals and options
which need to be considered.
The report also sets out the European Commission's priorities to be addressed
in this major discussion of solidarity and cohesion in an enlarged Union.
In launching it, we have three principles:
- first, that cohesion policy retains credibility with the appropriate
means at its disposal for tackling the unprecedented scale of the challenges
which it will face;
- secondly, that it becomes more visible, that it brings home to citizens
in the larger Union the meaning of cohesion while meeting their expectations,
directly or indirectly.
- thirdly, that the policy is pursued with a clearer vision than in
the past of the diversity of the different parts of Europe and their
To assemble 500 million people in a united Europe - but not a uniform
Europe - represents a tremendous opportunity. Europe must, however, equip
itself with a policy capable of maintaining cohesion in this context and
of bringing genuine added value to the resolution of the most serious
problems. To achieve this, cohesion policy needs not only a new dimension
but also a new direction. This report is intended to provide a practical
and objective contribution to launching a wide-ranging debate on this