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Fifth progress report on economic and social cohesion

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Fifth progress report on economic and social cohesion

The first part of this report presents the main conclusions of the public consultation on the future of European cohesion policy launched by the Commission. The second part of the report is dedicated to an analysis of the competitiveness of European regions and the key factors which underpin competitiveness and economic growth at the regional level.


Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council of 19 June 2008: “Fifth progress report on economic and social cohesion – Growing regions, growing Europe” [COM(2008) 371 final – Not published in the official Journal].


This report presents a summary of the contributions submitted by more than 100 institutional and non-institutional actors to the public consultation on the future of European cohesion policy, launched by the Commission.

Future priorities for cohesion policy

According to the contributions received by the Commission during the public consultation, cohesion policy after 2013 should continue to encourage both growing the European Union (EU) and reducing regional disparities by contributing to:

  • competitiveness, by allocating financial resources to the key sectors identified in the renewed Lisbon Strategy;
  • active labour market policies to encourage social inclusion and reduce the risk of poverty;
  • sustainable development, in particular by promoting energy efficiency and renewable energies.

Territorial cooperation is considered to be an essential element of cohesion policy. In the future this cooperation must be facilitated between regions which do not neighbour each other or which do not belong to the same area, as well as with regions and countries neighbouring the EU.

The governance of cohesion policy could be improved by increasing the role of regional and local authorities in implementing the policy and by clarifying the responsibilities of the different stakeholders (Commission, Member States, regions and actors on the ground).

Furthermore, the implementation of cohesion policy could be improved through the use of new instruments, such as using at more diverse forms of financing like bank loans, micro-credits, risk capital or public-private partnerships. Finally, sectoral, national and Community policies must be better coordinated with cohesion policy.

Convergence, growth and economic restructuring of the regions

The Commission presented a classification of the regions according to their adherence to the first two objectives of cohesion policy. It analysed regional convergence factors by examining three high growth sectors:

  • financial services and business services;
  • trade, transport and communication;
  • construction.

Levels of development in the regions in upcoming years will also depend on investments in innovation and human capital.

Convergence regions have undergone a profound economic restructuring, in particular via growth in the services sector. In the years to come they should develop higher value added industrial production, modernise their agricultural sector and develop workers’ skills.

While Transition regions have experienced rapid progression in the three growth sectors, they should develop services and trade to make up for a lag in development.

In the regions covered by the “regional competitiveness and employment» objective (RCE), employment and productivity levels have increased, in particular by specialising in the services sector. They are competitive in the world economy thanks to their higher value added industries and investments in research and development.


This report draws its conclusions from the public consultation launched in 2007 on the future of cohesion policy. This was carried out as part of the budget review for 2008/2009 and the presentation of future EU spending priorities. The debate on the future of cohesion policy will continue with the public consultation launched in October 2008 following the Green Paper on territorial cohesion.


Commission Communication to the European Parliament, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions of 15 May 2008 on the results of the negotiations concerning cohesion policy strategies and programmes for the programming period 2007-2013 [COM(2008) 301 final – Not published in the official Journal].

A process of negotiation has been established between the Commission, Member States, regional and local authorities and local actors to improve the implementation of cohesion policy.

The negotiations have enabled the Commission to set out regional and sectoral strategies for encouraging growth and employment levels and for improving the use of financing and the quality of the programmes.

See also

For further information, please visit the website of the European Commission’s Directorate General for Regional Policy.

Last updated: 22.01.2009