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DISCUSSION PAPER

Strengthening cohesion in the EU: How can structural reforms contribute?






Cohesion policy / DISCUSSION PAPER
Alison Hunter

Date: 15/10/2018

As the debate concerning the post-2020 cohesion policy takes shape, the European Policy Centre publishes a report about the future links between structural reforms and EU cohesion policy in the context of the 2021-2027 Multiannual Financial Framework.

The authors recommend a better alignment between the EU's proposed Reform Support Programme (RSP) and the goals and participatory approach of cohesion policy.

Their paper argues for repositioning the RSP to deliver both on EU competitiveness and cohesion goals. To that end, the authors believe that the RSP must become part of a new EU growth strategy that would encompass all EU policies (including cohesion policy) and a multilevel governance framework for structural reforms.

The EU must widen the scope of its structural reform agenda towards promoting economic capability, territorial balance and social inclusiveness in the EU, while ensuring a broader engagement with regional stakeholders in the design and implementation of reforms.

More specifically, this report proposes to:

  • Provide a stronger narrative for EU structural reform support, based on a more explicit definition of the ultimate aims of structural reforms and sound evidence on how EU support can help achieve these objectives.
  • Re-position the RSP as an enabler for the delivery of EU structural reforms, building on CP’s role in supporting different delivery capacities among EU member states and regions in the implementation of reforms.
  • Ensure that the EU’s structural reform agenda considers EU cohesion needs, which include supporting member states’ efforts to address the needs of the ‘losers of structural reforms’.
  • Build a multilevel governance structure for structural reform support in the EU, allowing for broader engagement of EU member states and regions in the design, implementation and monitoring of structural reforms.


This study was commissioned by Policy Department for Structural and Cohesion Policies on behalf of the Committee on Regional Development of the European Parliament. Other studies prepared for the REGI Committee can be found on the Policy Department blog.



Read the full paper here
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