Cohesion policy is delivering the EU’s priorities, but needs to be modernised, a major conference organised by the CPMR has heard.

In partnership with the Directorate General for Regional Policy of the European Commission (DG REGIO), the CPMR organised a major conference in Brussels on 13 October to discuss the key role of Cohesion policy for the future of the European Union.

Using concrete examples presented by CPMR member regions, the conference aimed to demonstrate the role of Cohesion policy in delivering EU priorities, improving investment conditions and achieving territorial, economic and social cohesion.

Three main messages emerged from discussions during the conference. Firstly, Cohesion policy is delivering EU priorities and that it needs to be modernised. The need to ensure that the discourse is realistic, the narrative suitable and in line with the EU Treaty were stressed.

Secondly, that the link between Cohesion policy and the European Semester should be more seen under the light of an interaction between the two rather than support form Cohesion to the European semester. The idea of reinforcing the territorial
dimension of the European semester was mentioned as a way forward.

Thirdly, that ‘ex ante conditionalities’ could be one of the major lifelines of Cohesion Policy when it comes to renewing it for the post-2020 period. The most famous of ex ante conditionalities at regional level – smart specialisation strategies – is one of the successful stories of Cohesion policy.

It was also confirmed that regions are agents of innovation and intermediaries facilitating private investment with the help of Cohesion policy. Structural funds often work as seed funding and allow the development of projects in all types of regions while delivering EU priorities.

On island regions, the European Commission said that they do not need special attention according to their specific territorial characteristics and challenges, as islands are so different.

There was a consensus among participants that there are still significant improvements to be made regarding the visibility of Cohesion policy.

The CPMR and the representatives of the European Commission and the Committee of the Regions highlighted how crucial it is for Cohesion policy to build a strong communication strategy and to enhance its visibility.

In total, 42 CPMR member regions attended the conference. Commissioner for Regional Policy, Corina Creţu, and Enrico Rossi, president of Tuscany and Vice-president of the CPMR in charge of Cohesion policy, spoke at the conference. View the conference agenda and speakers