PART III - THE EU BUDGET AND THE CONTRIBUTION OF STRUCTURAL POLICIES
TO ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL COHESION
2 The contribution of structural policies to economic and social cohesion:
results and prospects
Since their creation, the Structural Funds and the Cohesion Fund have
represented the main instruments of social and economic cohesion policy,
which is a priority objective of the Union. These are aimed at strengthening
the structural factors which determine competitiveness and therefore the
growth potential of less advantaged regions.
Over 10 years have passed since the reform of the Structural Funds in
1988. A first evaluation of the results was presented in the First Report
on Social and Economic Cohesion. This showed the progress made in terms
of convergence and cohesion and the contribution of structural policies
to the attainment of these objectives. The report had also suggested possible
ways of improving the effectiveness of structural policies and these were
integrated into the new regulatory framework.
The Berlin Council (March 1999) confirmed the will to continue pursuing
this political priority, made even more necessary by future enlargement
because of the substantial differences in the level of development. Given
the scale of the financial transfers involved, it is important to assess
the effectiveness of the policies pursued in reducing regional disparities
and increasing economic convergence.
At the same time, the system for managing the Structural Funds has become
more decentralised, with a clearer division of responsibilities and, as
a result, the creation of stronger instruments for monitoring, control
This chapter is divided into four sections. The first examines the scale
of the effort made to improve economic and social cohesion; the second
assesses the results achieved over the period 1994 to 99; the third attempts
to draw lessons from the establishment of the new method of programming
for the period 2000 to 2006; the fourth section considers the different
financial instruments created to assist the enlargement process.