The Regional and Urban Policy of the European Union

The Regional and Urban Policy of the European Union

Cohesion, Results-Orientation and Smart Specialisation

New Horizons in Regional Science series

Philip McCann

The regional and urban development policy of the European Union, or more precisely, EU Cohesion Policy, is undergoing change. This development is driven by the enormous transformations in European regions and by shifts in thinking and analysis. The issues raised by the changes to regional and urban development policy in Europe span many academic disciplines and build on different research methodologies. A broad approach is required in order to address these issues and this book explicitly incorporates insights from a range of different disciplines. After examining the major regional and urban features of the European economy and discussing the analytical underpinnings of the current re-design to EU Cohesion Policy, the book also aims to provide a road map of the various EU regional and urban data-sources which are available to researchers and policy-makers. This book is aimed at all economists, geographers, regional scientists, spatial planners, transportation scientists, sociologists, urban studies researchers, environmental scholars, political scientists and policy-analysts who are interested in regional and urban issues.

Chapter 4: A reformed EU Cohesion Policy

Philip McCann

Subjects: economics and finance, regional economics, urban economics, geography, cities, urban and regional studies, cities, regional economics, regional studies, urban economics, urban studies


As we saw in the previous chapter, even though the policy has undergone various alterations at different stages, the underlying architecture, logic, and workings of EU Cohesion Policy have remained largely intact during the 25 years between 1988 and 2013. As such, while the European Union and its regions have changed dramatically during this period, the basic logic and architecture of EU regional and urban policy has for the most part remained constant. This potential disconnection has given rise to fundamental questions regarding the case for such a policy, and this questioning itself has resulted in a great deal of reflection and reconsideration regarding the case for, the role of and the logic of EU Cohesion Policy in the coming years. The case for a reformed EU Cohesion Policy has three broad aspects to it. The first aspect of the case for a reformed EU Cohesion Policy relates to the workings of the policy and the extent to which the policy works – or in other words is successful in achieving what it is intended to achieve. The second aspect of the case for EU Cohesion Policy relates to the distributional features of the policy and the question of whether EU development policy should be focused only on the very poorest parts of the EU, or whether weaker regions in wealthier countries should also be eligible for assistance.

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