The Micro-efficiency of EU Cohesion Policy

Wostner, Peter (2008) The Micro-efficiency of EU Cohesion Policy. [Report]

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    Abstract

    Cohesion policy micro-efficiency is determined by the institutional or absorption capacity of recipient regions and Member States. This, in turn, co-determines the policy's macro-economic impact. The analysis shows that Cohesion policy is not perceived as an "EU receipts maximising instrument", but instead that it is understood as a means to the set objectives, i.e. that it is about the genuine impact. At the same time, however, the analysis also shows that proper change to implementation systems is needed. The paper puts forward four proposals for improvements. The most radical of them, the 'coordinated full decentralisation' option, conceives Cohesion policy as a bulk transfer of investment-conditioned financial resources, where full responsibility for the legality, regularity, efficiency and effectiveness would be entirely transferred to the Member States/regional level while, at the same time, preserving Cohesion policy as a genuine European policy. The analysis reveals that the subsidiarity principle is still not taken into account to a satisfactory degree, that experience and political context have significant influence on the (optimal) design of implementation systems and finally that, on average, there seems to be merit in concentration both with regard to the number of operational programmes (less so for their thematic focus) as well as to the number of institutions involved in the implementation systems, horizontally and especially vertically.