Original publication: June 2015
Author: Diána Haase, Research Administrator
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The Cohesion Policy Dimension of the Implementation of the Europe 2020 Strategy

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The Committee on Regional Development (REGI) of the European Parliament (EP) decided to draw up an own-initiative report on “Cohesion policy and the review of the Europe 2020 strategy” (rapporteur: Fernando Ruas). In January 2015 Policy Department B – Structural and Cohesion Policies was requested to provide internal expertise in support of the ongoing work on the aforementioned report. This analysis has been drawn up in response to this request, addressing the three angles of research that were requested by REGI:

  • The (reciprocal) relationship between cohesion policy and Europe 2020 – A strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth (hereinafter the Europe 2020 Strategy/the Strategy);
  • Responsibility and ownership dimensions of the strategy;
  • Territorial dimension of the strategy.


Review process of the Europe 2020 Strategy

The Europe 2020 Strategy, launched in 2010, is an overarching European Union (EU) “growth and jobs” strategy, which has replaced the Lisbon Strategy . To support delivery of the Strategy, an economic governance system has been set up to provide for coordination of actions at the EU and national levels.

In 2014 the Commission launched the process of reviewing the Strategy and the progress made towards delivering its targets by publishing its Communication on “Taking stock of the Europe 2020 strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth”. The
Communication presents lessons learned in the first years of implementation of the Europe 2020 Strategy by looking into (1) the impact of the crisis and long-term factors of growth, and (2) progress towards Europe 2020 targets and the role those targets have played, implementation of the Flagship Initiatives and role of the European Semester. The key conclusions include confirmation of:

  • the sustained relevance of the Strategy;
  • the need to address the slowing convergence process inside the EU (which is due to the crisis and accumulated imbalances across the territory);
  • mixed progress towards targets and the implementation of the Flagship Initiatives across the EU;
  • the crucial role that the active engagement of regions and cities can play in the pursuit of the Europe 2020 objectives.

It should be noted that (as in the Communication on the Strategy itself) very limited reference is made to cohesion, cohesion policy and its instruments in the document. Following the above communication, a public consultation was conducted between May and October 2014 to gather evidence for the review process; the results were published on 2 March 2015. Alongside this Communication, a  Eurostat publication provided further input on the implementation of the Strategy. The main outcome of the public consultation is in line with the conclusions of the abovementioned stocktaking Commission Communication: the relevance of the Strategy and the meaningfulness of its objectives and priorities are confirmed. The Flagship Initiatives are considered to have served their purpose, but their visibility is low; and, finally, it is pointed out that there is a need to enhance ownership and involvement on the ground, which would improve the delivery of the Strategy. The Eurostat publication presents a detailed picture of progress towards the headline targets of the Strategy, also confirming the findings of the Commission to the effect that this progress is mixed across the EU and that some of the targets will most likely not be achieved by 2020.

According to the Communication on the results of the public consultation, publication of the Commission’s review proposals for the Europe 2020 Strategy is due before the end of 2015.

It is worth recalling that the EP addressed the launch of the Strategy in several resolutions in 2010 and 2011, conveying messages such as the fact that economic, social and territorial cohesion is a cornerstone of the European project, and that the Strategy is an opportunity to maintain and strengthen cohesion. The reciprocal relationship was also stressed with the statement that a strong and well-financed cohesion policy that is aligned with the Europe 2020 Strategy is a pre-condition for successful attainment of the Europe 2020 goals. The governance aspects were also underlined: to achieve results, national, regional and local levels of governance must be accountable and of high quality, and stakeholders also need to play a key role in the delivery mechanism of the Strategy.
Concerns were raised by the EP that, in the absence of strengthened governance structures, the Europe 2020 Strategy would not be able to deliver on its objectives and targets.

Link to the full study: http://bit.ly/540-361

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