EU Cohesion Policy after Brexit : the economic, social and institutional challenges

Bachtler, John and Begg, Iain (2017) EU Cohesion Policy after Brexit : the economic, social and institutional challenges. Journal of Social Policy, 46 (4). pp. 745-763. ISSN 0047-2794 (

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Since 1988, when the current EU Cohesion Policy was introduced, it has played an influential role in setting priorities for policies aimed at dealing with the effects of economic integration on regional and social disparities. Although, latterly, the amount of money spent in the UK through the European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) has declined, EU programmes have had a disproportionate effect on the design and implementation of UK policies shaping regional and local economic and social development. At sub-national level, in particular, there will need to be a fresh approach following Brexit. This paper starts by recalling how EU Cohesion Policy has functioned in the UK, then considers how Brexit may affect regional and social developments and the need for a corresponding policy response, focusing on the sorts of policies currently supported by the ERDF and the ESF. The paper shows that filling the policy vacuum will be far from straightforward because complementary national policies and institutional frameworks have lacked consistency or coherence. It concludes by examining the wider policy issues arising from rethinking domestic policy outside the ESIF framework.


Bachtler, John ORCID logoORCID: and Begg, Iain;