Cohesion, Results-Orientation and Smart Specialisation
New Horizons in Regional Science series
Chapter 1: The backdrop to EU Cohesion Policy debates: Europe 2020 and the post-crisis economy
One of the flagship policies of the European Union (EU) is ‘Cohesion Policy’, which is the regional and urban development policy of the European Union. This book aims to explain the role played by EU regional and urban policy, its role within the wider EU system (European Union 2012; Pinder and Usherwood 2007), and also the ideas which underpin the recent reforms to the policy. While there are obviously many local, regional and urban policy initiatives which take place within the national context and which are independent of EU initiatives, it is those local development initiatives which are related in part to EU funding schemes which are the specific focus of this book. In general, the level of awareness on the part of the public of the role and impacts of EU Cohesion Policy is closely related to the relative scale of EU Cohesion Policy interventions in their own countries (European Commission 2010a). Not surprisingly, therefore, in the richer Northern and Western European nations the overall levels of public awareness of the role and impacts of EU Cohesion Policy are much less than in the lower income countries of Central, Eastern and Southern Europe (ibid.). However, EU Cohesion Policy has for a long time been a key policy of the European Union, and one of its main levers for promoting the development of the EU.