Social Europe and Well-Being

Achieving social triple A: What role for EU cohesion policy?

31 May 2017
Claire Dhéret (Head of Social Europe & Well-being programme and Senior Policy Analyst)

Cohesion policy is considered to be one of the EU’s key instruments to strive for inclusive growth. At the same time, the impact of the economic crisis and years of austerity have put the social dimension of EU policy back on the agenda. The 2015 Five Presidents’ Report called for a ‘social triple A for Europe’, while the Commission recently presented the European Pillar of Social Rights, aiming to “serve as a compass for the renewed convergence within the euro area”. With the discussions on the EU budget and cohesion policy on the way, it is now high time to consider whether EU cohesion policy has the right tools to be a driver for social progress and deliver on the EU’s social objectives. In this Policy Brief, Claire Dhéret highlights the limitations of cohesion policy’s current functioning in addressing the new geographical divides emerging across the EU and argues that more prominence needs to be put on qualitative and human capital investment in the future. To that end, cohesion policy post 2020 will require some fundamental policy-readjustments, which also need to be embedded in a strong governance framework.

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In this programme


Programme Team

Head of Social Europe & Well-being programme and Senior Policy Analyst

Claire Dhéret

Policy Analyst

Simona Guagliardo

Junior Policy Analyst

Mihai Palimariciuc

Senior Adviser to EPC on energy, public service reform and CHES

Hans Martens

Senior Adviser to EPC on employment and the EMU

László Andor

Senior Adviser to EPC on health, social and migration policies

Lieve Fransen

Senior Lecturer in Quantitative Sociology, City University of London

Eric Harrison