Tag Archives: Community regional policy

Fourth progress report on cohesion: The Growth and Jobs Strategy and the Reform of European cohesion policy

Fourth progress report on cohesion: The Growth and Jobs Strategy and the Reform of European cohesion policy

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Fourth progress report on cohesion: The Growth and Jobs Strategy and the Reform of European cohesion policy

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Regional policy > Review and the future of regional policy

Fourth progress report on cohesion: The Growth and Jobs Strategy and the Reform of European cohesion policy

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission of 12 June 2006 – The Growth and Jobs Strategy and the Reform of European cohesion policy – Fourth progress report on cohesion [COM(2006) 281 – Not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

This fourth progress report on economic and social cohesion follows on from the publication of the third progress report in May 2005. It concerns inter alia:

  • the cohesion programmes implemented in the new EU Member States following the May 2004 enlargement;
  • preparations for the 2007-2013 programming period, in particular the Interinstitutional Agreement signed in May 2006 by Parliament, the Council and the Commission on the Financial Perspectives for 2007-2013;
  • the relaunch of the Lisbon Strategy in 2005.

ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL DISPARITIES

In 2005 the EU economy was characterised by continued moderate growth. In the period 2000-2004, the average growth of the gross domestic product (GDP) of the 25 EU Member States (EU-25) was little more than 1.5% per year. However, the Commission anticipates that growth will pick up and exceed 2% across the EU between 2005 and 2007.

Disparities

With regard to disparities between Member States in terms of GDP, the report notes that the new Member States are growing faster than most of the EU-15 countries. However, convergence is still a long-term perspective.

In 2004, the average overall employment rate reached 63.3% (64.7% in the EU-15 and 56.0% in the EU-10). In order to reach the Lisbon Strategy’s employment rate target of 70% by 2010, 24 million new jobs would be needed in the EU-27 (EU-25 plus Romania and Bulgaria), which represents an increase of almost 12% on current employment levels.

Trends in disparities

This Communication gives an overview of the disparities between objectives and the disparities within each objective for the regions to be targeted by cohesion policy for the period 2007-2013 .

Disparities between objectives

The 100 Convergence regions (regions where GDP per capita is less than 75% of the EU average, 2000-2002) are characterised by low levels of GDP and employment, as well as high unemployment. Their total share in EU-27 GDP in 2002 was only 12.5%, although they account for 35% of the population.

Disparities within each objective

Under the Convergence objective, there are several regions with GDP per capita below 25% of the EU average in 2002, all of which are in Romania and Bulgaria.

The employment rate in the 155 regions covered by the new Regional Competitiveness and Employment (RCE) objective is 10 percentage points higher than in the Convergence regions.

In 2002, 10% of the EU-27 population living in the most prosperous regions accounted for over 19% of total GDP for the EU-27, compared with only 1.5% for the 10% of the population living in the least wealthy regions.

Research and development (R&D) and Information and communication technologies (ICT)

R&D is a key factor in determining a region’s innovative capacity. 35 regions, which account for 46% of total R&D expenditure in the EU-27, have R&D intensities exceeding the Lisbon target for an EU-wide average of 3% of GDP. In 47 regions (3.5% of GDP in the EU-27) R&D expenditure is below 0.5% of GDP.

Across the EU as a whole, almost half of all households had Internet access in 2005. There are marked differences between Member States, with penetration rates exceeding 70% in the Netherlands, Denmark and Sweden, whereas they are around 20% in Lithuania, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia and Greece. In today’s Objective 1 regions, only around one third of all households have Internet access.

POLITICAL BACKGROUND

Financial resources

With regard to the execution of the budget in 2005, a total of 27.1 billion was committed under the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), the Cohesion Fund and the pre-accession fund designated for candidate countries (ISPA), and 11.2 billion for the European Social Fund (ESF). For the four Structural Funds, Cohesion Fund and ISPA taken together, payments made in 2005 reached more than 33 billion.

Based on the conclusions of the European Council in December 2005 and the adoption of the Interinstitutional Agreement of May 2006, the cohesion policy budget for the period 2007-2013 will amount to 308 billion (0.37% of the gross national investment (GNI) of the EU-27). The new Member States would receive 51.3% of total cohesion policy resources (an increase of almost 165% compared with the period 2004-2006).

Cohesion Policy 2007-2013 and the Growth and Jobs Strategy

In July 2005 the Commission published a Communication on the Community Strategic Guidelines for cohesion policy in 2007-2013, which:

  • provide a framework for the new programmes to be supported by the ERDF, the ESF and the Cohesion Fund;
  • reflect the role of cohesion policy as the principal instrument for contributing to growth and employment, in accordance with the renewed Lisbon agenda.

Cohesion policy is a key instrument in contributing to the Growth and Jobs Strategy, as:

  • cohesion policy represents one third of the Community budget;
  • strategies designed at local and regional levels must also form an integral part of the effort to promote growth and jobs;
  • the December 2005 European Council proposed that quantitative expenditure targets should be set for the new cohesion policy programmes for 2007-2013 so that a certain percentage of the funds will be used for purposes clearly linked to the Growth and Jobs Strategy (“earmarking” – 60% for the Convergence objective and 75% for the RCE objective).

Innovations in the new programmes

For the new programmes, specific initiatives have been launched to promote financial engineering for start-ups and micro-enterprises, combining technical assistance and grants with other instruments. There are three such initiatives:

JASPERS (Joint Assistance in Supporting Projects in European Regions), a new technical assistance partnership between the Commission, the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD);

JEREMIE (Joint European Resources for Micro to Medium Enterprises), a new initiative in partnership with the European Investment Fund (EIF) in order to improve access to finance for business development;

JESSICA (Joint European Support for Sustainable Investment in City Areas), enhanced cooperation between the Commission, the EIB, the CEDB (Council of Europe Development Bank) and other International Financial Institutions (IFIs) on financial engineering for sustainable urban development.

As a complement to the Strategic Guidelines, the Commission will present a Communication on the contribution of urban areas to growth and jobs in the regions.

Related Acts

Council Decision 2006/702/EC of 6 October 2006 on Community strategic guidelines on cohesion [Official Journal L 291 of 21.10.2006].

Communication from the Commission of 25 January 2006 to the Spring European Council – Time to move up a gear: The new partnership for growth and jobs [COM(2006) 30 final – Not published in the Official Journal]. 
This annual activity report (AAR) contains several recommendations regarding cohesion policy.

Council Regulation (EC) No 1698/2005 of 20 September 2005 on support for rural development by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) [Official Journal L 277 of 21.10.2005].

Cohesion policy and cities

Cohesion policy and cities

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Cohesion policy and cities

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Regional policy > Review and the future of regional policy

Cohesion policy and cities

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission to the Council and Parliament of 13 July 2006 – Cohesion Policy and cities – The urban contribution to growth and jobs in the regions [COM(2006) 385 – Not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

The Community Strategic Guidelines 2007-2013 in the field of cohesion aim to encourage growth and jobs. They define the areas of intervention where priority should be given in the Operational Programmes for Cohesion Policy for 2007-2013 by focusing on the specific needs of certain territories, such as urban areas, and on social and environmental objectives.

Sustainable urban economic development should be accompanied by measures designed to reduce poverty, social exclusion and environmental problems. This is the reason why the objective of this communication is to present certain specific aspects of the urban dimension which are relevant in the context of the strategic guidelines.

The Communication presents and proposes actions in a large number of fields and reflects the possibilities for intervention by the Structural Funds. The actions examined are divided into six headings, i.e.:

  • making cities more attractive;
  • supporting innovation, entrepreneurship and the knowledge economy;
  • the creation of more and better jobs;
  • managing disparities within cities;
  • governance.
  • financing urban renewal.

Attractive cities

In order to rise to the different challenges and make themselves more attractive, cities should attract more investment and create jobs. Four main points should be taken into consideration when doing so:

  • the mobility and accessibility of transport. For example, cities and regions should make the best possible use of the whole transport infrastructure;
  • access to modern, efficient and affordable services, as well as to equipment;
  • the natural and physical environment;
  • a cultural sector based on the availability of facilities.

Supporting innovation, entrepreneurship and the knowledge economy

Cities can take measures to support innovation, entrepreneurship and the knowledge economy. These involve actions for SMEs as well as actions to put innovation and the knowledge economy at the service of growth. This means for example:

  • improving the economic infrastructure and adopting environmental management systems;
  • providing business support services;
  • cooperation between local partners and access to sources of finance;
  • the drafting of an innovation strategy for the whole region;
  • involvement of cities in research and development (R&D) projects (Seventh Framework Programme), and in the information society field (the i2010 initiative).

More and better jobs

Given that highly qualified people and those with very low levels of qualifications are over-represented in cities, cities offer both needs and opportunities. Under the “Convergence” objective, the Structural Funds can support:

  • actions to strengthen institutional capacity and the efficiency of public services at local and regional level;
  • initiatives to create jobs, fight unemployment and create partnerships for employment and innovation;
  • improving employability by raising levels of educational achievement and training.

Disparities within cities

Within deprived neighbourhoods of cities where high unemployment is compounded by other deprivations, this communication proposes actions to:

  • promote social inclusion and equal opportunities;
  • increase security for citizens, for example, by developing approaches to local crime reduction policies and creating safety-related jobs.

Governance

In order to improve governance and manage urban development, this communication proposes actions aimed at:

  • establishing good co-operation between the different territorial levels, e.g. by developing partnerships between cities, regions and the state or improving coordination between urban, rural and regional authorities;
  • developing an integrated approach to sustainable development. This, for example, calls for the development of a long-term plan for all the different factors promoting sustainable growth and jobs;
  • raising the participation and involvement of citizens;
  • establishing networks for the exchange of experience.

Financing urban renewal

The urban development projects could be supported within the framework of the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), the European Social Fund (ESF) and the Cohesion Funds. The communication also suggests assistance from the new financial instruments JASPERS, JEREMIE and JESSICA, and from public-private partnerships.

Related Instruments

Council Decision 2006/702/EC of 6 October 2006 on Community strategic guidelines on cohesion [Official Journal L 291 of 21.10.2006].

Communication from the Commission of 5 July 2005 – Cohesion Policy in Support of Growth and Jobs – Community Strategic Guidelines, 2007-2013 [COM(2005) 299 – Not published in the Official Journal].

Regions for economic change

Regions for economic change

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Regions for economic change

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Regional policy > Review and the future of regional policy

Regions for economic change

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission of 8 November 2006 – Regions for economic change [COM(2006) 675 – Not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

The Commission is responding to the challenge to create growth and more and better jobs through the partnership for growth and jobs. This partnership has been reformed by the Community Lisbon Programme and national reform programmes (NRPs).

The Community Strategic Guidelines 2007-2013 in the field of cohesion and the guidelines for investments for urban development aim to assist the partnership for growth and jobs by defining areas of intervention where priority should be given in the programmes for cohesion policy for 2007-2013.

The programmes for cohesion policy for 2007-2013 receive 350 billion of Community support and lever a further 150 billion of investment from national public sources. This investment should help make the breakthrough in economic modernisation and increased competitiveness in the context of the partnership for growth and jobs, thus making a connection between regional economic convergence and economic modernisation.

The Regions for Economic Change initiative

From the viewpoint of the European Territorial Cooperation Objective and as part of the urban development programme, this Communication sets out the Regions for Economic Change initiative. The aim of the latter is to test out best practices which help strengthen the link between regional economic convergence and economic modernisation.

With a total budget of around 375 million, the initiative allows volunteer networks of Member States, regions and cities to test best practices for economic modernisation and increased competitiveness.

The Commission offers the volunteer networks a number of themes related to economic modernisation and the revised Lisbon strategy. In this way, those networks which so desire have the possibility of working and cooperating more closely with the Commission on these themes.

Networks participating in the initiative select development themes which interest them and pursue them through joint networks co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). Thanks to the link between thematic development and the cohesion policy programmes, projects which have been tested are rapidly disseminated in the Member States.

Fast track option

There is a fast track option within the Regions For Economic Change initiative. Volunteer networks are established around the themes (linked to economic modernisation and the renewed Lisbon strategy) selected and animated by the Commission. The fast track option therefore gives the Commission the right of initiative and allows it to play an important role in the rapid dissemination of ideas for testing selected by the networks in ERDF-assisted programmes.

Communication

In order to ensure the rapid dissemination of ideas, results and best practice, it is important to introduce effective communication on the Regions For Economic Change initiative. This entails, for example, the organisation of an annual conference on regions for economic change, the launch of a new website and the introduction of annual awards for innovation.

Related Instruments

Council Decision 2006/702/EC of 6 October 2006 on Community strategic guidelines on cohesion [Official Journal L 291 of 21.10.2006].

Communication from the Commission of 5 July 2005 – Cohesion Policy in Support of Growth and Jobs – Community Strategic Guidelines, 2007-2013 [COM(2005) 299 – Not published in the Official Journal].

Cohesion and transport

Cohesion and transport

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Cohesion and transport

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Transport > Bodies and objectives

Cohesion and transport

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament, the Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions of 14 January 1999: “Cohesion and Transport” [COM (1998) 806 final- Not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

Transport policy plays a major role in strengthening the economic and social cohesion of the European Union. Firstly, it helps reduce regional disparities, particularly by improving access to island and peripheral regions. It also has a beneficial effect on employment, by encouraging investment in transport infrastructure and assisting workers’ mobility.

The European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the Cohesion Fund have done much to help finance transport infrastructure, notably in regions where development is lagging behind (the so-called ‘Objective 1’ regions) and the most remote regions. For the period 1994-99, the ERDF has earmarked EUR 13.7 billion for the Objective 1 regions, of which 70% for roads and motorways and 16% for railways. Moreover, one half of the Cohesion Fund’s resources are given over to transport infrastructure, and in particular the trans-European networks (TENs). The European Investment Bank (EIB), whose activity is geared towards regional development, also helps through loans to fund transport infrastructure.

Transport is a key element in the European Spatial Development Perspective (ESDP), which is developing an integrated and common approach to spatial planning at European level. To ensure coherent development of the European territory, it seems essential to improve access to infrastructure by removing technical obstacles linked to the national transport systems and supporting the development of the weakest regions.

Development of the TENs is contributing to economic and social cohesion. The requirements of the peripheral regions have been taken into account in this development, and the emphasis placed on airports on islands and in remote areas. The next step is to enhance the role of ports so as to assist the integration of shipping into a global network. It is also necessary, in the peripheral regions, to undertake complementary investment in secondary networks, in order that those regions may gain maximum benefit from the TENs.

Public transport, both local and regional, helps in many ways to combat social exclusion. For one thing, it is a prerequisite for the functioning of the labour market and for economic development. It reduces the isolation of outlying residential districts and rural areas. In addition, it contributes towards a better quality of life, particularly in terms of the environment (air quality, reduced noise pollution).

However, since the liberalisation of transport services could result in the under-provision of services in sparsely populated or remote regions, which would be detrimental to cohesion, care must be taken to see that transport services are maintained, notably by means of public service contracts.

Other aspects of transport policy are also being studied with an eye to economic and social cohesion. These are:

  • charging schemes, which should include marginal social costs such as environmental impact and the cost of congestion;
  • intermodal transport, which should be developed with due regard to inland and sea ports;
  • the method of financing, with increased involvement of the private sector.

Integration of the environment into the formulation of other Union policies has become essential. This is particularly true for transport, which is a major polluter. 25% of carbon dioxide emissions in the EU come from transport. In the interests of sustainable development, it would therefore appear necessary to make the best possible use of existing capacity and to encourage alternatives to road transport.

With a view to the Union’s enlargement, the trans-European network needs to develop beyond Community territory. At the third pan-European transport conference in Helsinki, ten priority transport corridors were selected to link East with West. In addition, the pre-accession structural instrument (ISPA) is concentrating resources on infrastructure projects, notably in the field of transport.

In view of all the above, the way forward over the next few years is as follows:

  • it will be important firstly to maximise the effectiveness of the Community’s contribution so as to enhance competitiveness and create jobs. To this end, projects financed through the Structural Funds will be selected according to their impact on growth, competitiveness, the environment and the creation of permanent jobs. In addition, investment will be encouraged in rail and maritime transport, and in combined and public transport. Private finance will be encouraged, and coordination tightened between the Community’s budgetary instruments;
  • the TENs will then have to be implemented, with particular emphasis on peripheral regions, but also on the applicant countries, whose successful integration will depend on the development and modernisation of their transport networks;
  • lastly, emphasis will be placed on the promotion of accessible, environment-friendly transport services. This will be possible through, inter alia, the recognition and organisation of public transport.