Financing the Cohesion Policy through the Structural and Cohesion Funds during the programming period 2007 – 2013
The Third Cohesion Report concluded that the enlargement of the Union to 25 Member States, and subsequently to 27 or more, presents an unprecedented challenge for the competitiveness and internal cohesion of the European Union. The enlargement has resulted in the widening of the economic development gap, a geographical shift in the problem of disparities towards the east and a more difficult employment situation:
- In EU25, 123 million people - representing some 27% of the total population - live in regions with a per capita GDP below 75% of the EU average as against 72 million people, or 19% of the total, in EU15.
- Four million jobs will have to be created if the average level of employment in the 10 new Member States is to be aligned with that of the rest of the EU. Within the enlarged EU, appreciable employment gaps also persist according to age and gender.
At the same time, the whole of the Union faces challenges, arising from a likely acceleration in economic restructuring as a result of globalisation, trade opening, the technological revolution, the development of the knowledge economy and society, an ageing population and a growth in immigration.
In an effort to improve the performance of the EU economy, the Heads of State and of Government of the Union, meeting in Lisbon in March 2000, set out a strategy designed to make Europe the most successful and competitive knowledge based economy in the world by 2010.
Cohesion policy makes an important contribution to realising these aims. In effect, growth and cohesion are mutually supportive. By reducing disparities, the Union helps to ensure that all regions and social groups can contribute to, and benefit from, the overall economic development of the Union. For this reason, cohesion policy in all its dimensions must be seen as an integral part of the Lisbon strategy and needs to incorporate the Lisbon and Gothenburg objectives and to become a key instrument for their realisation through the national and regional development programmes.
The Commission proposes that actions supported by cohesion policy should focus on investment in a limited number of Community priorities, where Community intervention can be expected to bring about a leverage effect and significant added value. Accordingly, for the operational programmes, the Commission proposes a core list of a limited number of key themes as follows:
- innovation and the knowledge economy,
- environment and risk prevention,
- accessibility and services of general economic interest.
Objectives of the Cohesion Policy
The programmes related to the programming period 2007-2013 will be divided in 3 objectives:
- Regional competitiveness and employment
- European territorial cooperation objective
Romania is eligible under the objectives Convergence and European territorial cooperation.
Convergence objective concerns the less developed Member States and regions, which are the top priority for Community cohesion policy and aims the speeding up the convergence of the least-developed Member States and regions by improving conditions for growth and employment through increasing and improving of the quality of investment in physical and human capital, the development of innovation and of the knowledge society, the adaptability to economic and social changes, the protection and improvement of the environment as well as administrative efficiency.
This objective concerns, first and foremost, those regions, whose per capita GDP is less than 75% of the Community average. The key objective of cohesion policy in this context is to promote growth-enhancing conditions and factors leading to real convergence.
Programmes will be supported by the financial resources of the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), the European Social Fund (ESF) and the Cohesion Fund.
Under the Convergence objective, the ERDF shall support the sustainable integrated regional and local economic development and employment by mobilising and strengthening local capacity and diversification of regional and local economic structures, primarily through the following priorities: research and technological development, innovation and entrepreneurship, Information society, environment, prevention of risks, tourism, transport, energy, investments in health, support in SMEs investments.
Within the Convergence objective, the European Social Fund shall support the following priorities: increasing adaptability of workers and enterprises, enhancing access to employment of job seekers and inactive people, preventing unemployment, reinforcing social inclusion of people at a disadvantage and combating discrimination, reforms in the fields of employment and inclusion, expanding and improving investment in human capital, strengthening institutional capacity and the efficiency of public administrations and public services at national, regional and local level to embrace reforms, especially in the economic, employment, social, environmental and judicial fields.
The Convergence objective is financed also through the Cohesion Fund that will apply to Member States with GNP lying below 90% of the Community average.
In line with the priorities set by the financial perspective, the Cohesion Fund will strengthen its contribution to sustainable development. In this respect, Trans-European Transport networks, the projects of European interest and environment infrastructures are the central priorities. In order to reach an appropriate balance to reflect the particular needs of the new Member States, it is envisaged also to support projects such as rail, maritime, inland waterways, multimodal transport programmes outside the TEN-T, sustainable urban transport and environmentally important investments in the key fields of energy efficiency or renewable energies.
European territorial cooperation objective shall be aimed at strengthening cross-border cooperation through joint local initiatives, at the transnational level by means of actions conducive to territorial development linked to the Community priorities and exchange of experience.
Building on the experience of the present INTERREG Initiative, the Commission proposes to create a new objective dedicated to support the harmonious and balanced integration of the territory of the Union by supporting co-operation between its different components on issues of Community importance at cross-border, transnational and interregional level.
Action will be financed by the ERDF and will focus on the following priorities:
- the development of cross-border economic, social and environmental activities through joint strategies for sustainable territorial development (i.e.: SMEs development, tourism, culture, health infrastructure, environment)
- the establishment and development of trans-national cooperation, including bilateral cooperation between maritime regions, through the financing of networks and of actions conducive to integrated territorial development (water management, accessibility, risks prevention, networks of scientific and technological cooperation)
- promoting networking and experience exchange between local and regional authorities, including cooperation programmes and actions involving studies, data collection, and the observation and analysis of development trends in the Community.
Accordingly to the financial perspective 2007-2013, the European Commission allocated 308,041 billons euro in order to support the 3 priorities of the Cohesion Policy at the level of EU, the allocation being as followed:.
- 81.7% of these funds will be allocated to the Convergence objective, of which 24.5% for the Cohesion Fund.
- 15.8% of these funds will be allocated to the Regional competitiveness and employment objective
- The European territorial co-operation objective will be allocated 2.4% of these funds.
Financing Common Agricultural Policy during the programming period 2007-2013
The financing instruments related to the policy of rural development will be grouped in a single instrument within the Common Agricultural Policy, which will have as aim the following priorities:
- improving the competitiveness of agriculture and forestry by supporting restructuring, development and innovation;
- improving the environment and the countryside by supporting land management;
- improving the quality of life in rural areas and encouraging diversification of economic activities
The Community Initiative, LEADER+, will be incorporated within the general programming.
Also, the actions related to the restructuring of the fishery sector will be grouped in a single instrument, which will focus on measures that will accompany the needs of modernising the fishery sector and improving the work and life conditions in areas where the fishery sector play an important role.
Accordingly to the financial perspective 2007-2013, the Commission has allocated 69.75 billions euro for funding the Common Agricultural Policy at the level of EU.