The European Union may be one of the richest parts of the world, but there are large differences in prosperity levels both between countries and inside individual countries. The wealthiest country, Luxembourg, is more than seven times richer than Romania and Bulgaria, the poorest EU members. For the inner market and freedom of movement of goods, capital, services and people, it is important that the least developed regions catch up with the more developed ones over time. This is the aim of the EU´s cohesion policy.
With the term cohesion policy, the European Union means the regional policy with the stated aim of improving the economic well-being of regions in the EU and also to reduce regional disparities. More than one third of the EU’s budget is devoted to this policy, for the period 2014-2020 351,8 billion euro, which aims to remove economic, social and territorial disparities across the EU, restructure declining industrial areas and diversify rural areas which have declining agriculture. In doing so, EU regional policy is geared towards making regions more competitive, fostering economic growth and creating new jobs. The policy also has a role to play in wider challenges for the future, including climate change, energy supply and globalisation.
As we have written about previously on this blog, the European Union has reformed the Cohesion Policy from 2014 and geared the usage of funds towards a focus on innovation and regional smart specialisation. Here is a link to a ten item list of the major reforms.
The European Union has published an infograph about the updated cohesion policy that is in effect from 2014. As we think it is quite good, we share it with you in this blog post.