Study on National Policies and Cohesion
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The economic disparities between Europe’s Member States and regions is not a new phenomenon but remains a concern for the overall economic and social well-being of the continent. After a period of convergence economic disparities widened after Europe’s economic crisis in the late 2000s. Within some countries the disparities between rapidly growing (capital city) regions, often the focus for investment and talent, and the rest of their country have also grown. These patterns can be observed despite the significant investments from the EU’s Cohesion Policy and national efforts over this period and before. Disparities can become deeply ingrained and difficult to reverse. A positive finding is that national policies, especially when coordinated and complementary with Cohesion Policy can stimulate investments that help to address disparities. Investments in human capital, access to infrastructure, and improving governance, through supporting institutional capacity appear to be the most effective instruments in this respect.
The suggested policy approaches include: a national policy focus on assets for growth and transformation (including diffusion of innovation, skills, digital technologies); improving productivity in low output sectors or sectors that do not perform to their potential in some contexts, including agriculture; measures to balance the growth of major cities and ensure that other areas do not get left behind; and a focus on policies that are additional to, and coordinated with Cohesion Policy.