Cohesion policy : doing more with less

Bachtler, John and Mendez, Carlos; Wallace, Helen and Pollack, Mark and Roederer-Rynning, Christilla and Young, Alasdair, eds. (2020) Cohesion policy : doing more with less. In: Policy-Making in the European Union. Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp. 232-253. ISBN 9780198807605

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EU Cohesion Policy accounts for a major share of the EU budget and aims to reduce economic, social and territorial disparities through investment programmes and projects aligned with EU strategic objectives and implemented under a unique model of multilevel governance. This chapter reviews the evolution of Cohesion Policy over successive reform phases, how the policy is implemented and the evidence for its effectiveness. It also discusses the different policy modes encompassed in the policy and reviews recent political developments relating to politicisation, Brexit and the sectoralisation of EU spending. It concludes that the current debate over the resourcing, priorities and governance of Cohesion Policy for 2021-27 represent a new turning point in the prospects for the policy. While the proposed budget for Cohesion Policy remains substantial, a diminution in the policy’s importance is apparent driven by greater centralisation of political decision-making within the Commission, a fragmentation of the political constituencies for Cohesion Policy and the dominance of aspatial EU policy priorities with centralised delivery mechanisms.