Edited by Larry Kreiser, Ana Yábar Sterling, Pedro Herrera, Janet E. Milne and Hope Ashiabor
Chapter 2: EU structural and cohesion policy and sustainable development
This chapter is an excerpt from a study commissioned by the European Parliament, which examines EU subsidies for agriculture, fisheries, transport, energy and regional development. Based on proven methodologies for the identification and assessment of environmentally harmful subsidies, the study assesses the sustainability level of the sectoral policies and makes recommendations for a reform that would contribute to the alignment of the EU budget towards a more sustainable growth. The following sections provide the main findings of one of the largest fields of expenditure within the EU budget, the structural and cohesion policy. The European Structural and Cohesion Funds aim to reduce social and economic disparities between the European regions. Due to several tens of thousands of projects being supported within one programming period, it is difficult to find coherent evidence on the output and results of the EU regional policy. Aggregated information is rare, whereas diverging and country-specific indicator-based data of partly insufficient quality are prevalent. In the programming period 2000–2006, the regional policy instruments mainly focused on the European regions lagging behind (objective 1) and the regions that were undergoing structural change (objective 2) at that time (Nordregio, 2009). For the following programming period, 2007–2013, a reform of the regional policy was implemented by introducing the term territorial cohesion. The overarching target of the financial support is to reduce imbalances and disparities between the manifold European regions under the umbrella of convergence, competitiveness and cooperation (EC, 2004, 2010a, 2010b).
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