Table of Contents
List of Abbreviations ....
Analysis of the relationship between the two objectives of the cohesion policies: growth and reduction of disparities, taking into account any contradictions, tensions or completions
Analysis and comparison of the thematic priorities of the European Regional Development Fund (EC) No. 1080/2006 and the European Social Fund (EC) 1081/2006 in the light of overall objectives for the cohesion policies to regard differences in scope, similarities and potential synergies
Analysis of the present distribution of the financial means of the European Structural Funds, as well as the main reasons and criteria for this decision of distribution. Assessment of the adequacy of the existing distribution and reasons for its conception...
Systematic differentiation of European Structural Funds and European funding programmes on the basis of self-developed criteria
Contribution of the quality of regional public administration services to an effective and efficient implementation of the European Structural Funds
List of graphs and tables
List of Abbreviations
Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten
In March 2000 at the Lisbon Spring Council, the 15 European Union (EU) leaders at that time agreed that the EU should commit to raising the rate of growth and employment to underpin social cohesion and environmental sustainability. The EU set itself “a strategic goal for the next decade: to become the most dynamic and competitive knowledge-based economy in the world, capable of sustainable economic growth with more and better jobs and greater social cohesion, and respect for the environment”.1 In June 2001 in Göteborg, the strategy adds the environmental dimension to the Lisbon Strategy (LS) and is conceived as a completion of the EU commitment to economic and social renewal. The new, more complete, and ambitious EU sustainable development strategy with objectives, indicators and an effective monitoring procedure should be based on a long-term positive vision and fully include the external dimension.
In 2005 the results did not meet expectations, so the strategy had been renewed to have new impulses. As a result of the renewed LS, the cohesion policy for the programming period 2007-2013 is marked by the objectives of growth and jobs agenda, especially in the areas of innovation, research, skills, and human capital, and additionally brought reform of the objectives and funds.2
Analysis of the relationship between the two objectives of the cohesion policies: growth and reduction of disparities, taking into account any contradictions, tensions, or completions between these objectives.
The former goal of the reduction of disparities between the European Member States (MS) is no longer the only aim of cohesion policy. The Lisbon Agenda established the change from cohesion policy to growth policy as a strategic approach. It is a moot question whether the objectives complement each other or are contradictory.
Cohesion policy is legally based on Article 158 of the Treaty establishing the European Community (TEC). Cohesion policies are intended to compensate and reduce structural deficits through redistribution between the various regions and MS. This should balance out economic differences and strengthen the unity of the EU, especially with the new eastern MS.3 The core message of the actual cohesion policy is: more growth and employment for all regions and cities of the EU.4
Based on the LS, funds of the cohesion policy should promote the three new general political objectives: convergence, competitiveness, and employment as well as adding to territorial cohesion.5 This means for the old EU-MS a clear new orientation towards the aims of the LS. It can be assumed that through a higher measure of these objectives in the Union, the Lisbon targets could be implemented more effectively and that the emphasis can be shifted to these economic subjects.6
Sustainable growth for the entire EU has become more important because of two main challenges. At first a high loss of economic power depends on the demographic problem. Europe has to face the problem of ageing populations, which will lead to more pensioners and less working-age inhabitants. This loss of economic power in conjunction with increasing expenditures for the provision for the old citizens will stress the European Social model and mean higher costs for health care and pensions. On the other hand, the EU economy also has increasing competitive pressure from continually expanding globalisation, especially from the industrial nations USA and Japan.7
Growth is not an end in itself, it is a prerequisite for being able to maintain and increase Europe's prosperity and thus for preserving and enhancing the social models. By getting more people into work it could be ensured that the societies cope with demographic change. If the MS spend more amounts for education, research, and development this could also encourage growth and employment.
It is apparent from this that there is a social dimension in cohesion policy. Promotion of economic prosperity also includes a social equalising function. This function is in one way independent of regional growth because such people deemed worthy of funding live across the whole Community and not only in structurally weak regions, but the promotion of both dimensions certainly complement each other.8 A shortage of competitiveness and employment is conditional to a lack of welfare and cohesion. Social cohesion could be strengthened by sustainable economic growth and will be basically reached by more jobs, also if economic growth does not necessarily lead to social equalisation.9
Besides this the environmental policy achieves an important contribution to growth and for sustainable resource management. In this way it creates market areas and workplaces. They can also compensate structural deficits.10 The Lisbon reform programme has sought to combine economic dynamism to create higher employment rates with longstanding European concerns to advance social cohesion, fairness and environmental protection.
Policy approaches have to be sustainable - while there is sometimes a short-term cost to protecting the environment, the long-term costs of not tackling environmental issues (such as climate change) would be far greater.
Considering these four objectives of the renewed LS - economic, employment, social and environmental policy - there are also conflicts of interest existing between these areas and the objective of reduction of disparities. An increase of economic and social cohesion could have a negative impact on ecological sustainability as well as equal opportunity and growth influencing each other. The European Commission (COM) asked the MS and regions to boost the synergies between these objectives.11
A sustainable growth-oriented policy can generate more employment and higher levels of competition. It can become cumulative under certain conditions (so called “endogenous” growth). But it can also produce higher environmental and social costs related to growing disparities of various dimensions. This results in economic and social drawbacks as well as territorial imbalances with enhanced differences in polarisation and living conditions between regions.12 An economically high developed area has probably no big influence on other remote regions in that neighbourhood. An only cohesion-oriented policy could reduce disparities in territorial dimension. It could balance out demographic challenges, increase values in terms of social-cultural integration and reduce negative impacts on rural regions. But the economic impacts will possibly be lower than in a growth-oriented policy.
While in former times only investments in economically and financially weak regions were made to reduce disparities, the new focus on growth has to change cohesion policies. Also in economically strong areas there has to be investment to promote growth and spill-over- effects for other sectors. With the only main focus of the reduction of inequality, strong economic regions and sectors will not grow but only drop behind in global competition, especially compared with highly developed and economically powerful nations. For that reason, the strategic approach of the new regulations should also be invested in prospering sectors and booming areas, so to strengthen and support sustainable growth and provoke leverage effects for other branches. Investments in non-progressive sectors - e.g. mining - appear in the light of an innovative and environmentally friendly policy as not sensible.
Structural funds programmes accelerate cohesion, albeit probably to various degrees - in some countries this will be more rapid than in others. Nevertheless the reduction of disparities through measures of cohesion policy will especially support small and mediumsized enterprises (SME) to invest effectively in human capital, establish competent management structures, and anticipate better economic changes, as well.
Growth could also cause restructuring that could bring job losses and creation of new jobs which are unevenly distributed and give rise to a territorial concentration of social and economic problems.13 Therefore it seems to be clear that only a policy mixture taking all the dimensions and objectives into account could lead the EU to a social and economic welfare and strengthen them to the challenges of a globalised world.
Analysis and comparison of the thematic priorities of the European Regional Development Fund (EC) No. 1080/2006 and the European Social Fund (EC) 1081/2006 in the light of overall objectives for the cohesion policies to regard differences in scope, similarities, and potential synergies.
The objective of the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) is “to help reinforce economic and social cohesion by redressing regional imbalances […] by supporting the development and structural adjustment of regional economies, including the conversion of declining industrial regions […] The ERDF shall give effect to the priorities of the Community, and in particular the need to strengthen competitiveness and innovation, create and safeguard sustainable jobs, and ensure sustainable development.”14 The objective of the European Social Fund (ESF) is “to foster balanced economic and social development in order to support national policies promoting full employment, improved quality and productivity at work and reduced social exclusion and regional employment disparities.”15
The ERDF will support programmes for regional development, economic change, territorial co-operation and infrastructure investment, legally based on Art. 160 TEC. The ESF is the most important instrument in the employment policy of the EU, legally based on Art. 146 TEC. The main focus is to increase adaptability of workers and enterprises, enhance access to employment and participation in the labour market, and promote partnership for reform in the fields of employment and inclusion.
The new focus of the Structural fund policy 2007-2013 is characterised by the enhancement of the Community strategic guidelines (CSG)16 on Cohesion policy that were developed by the EC based on the integrated Lisbon guidelines. From the priorities of the Lisbon objectives, the measures of ERDF mainly promote the aim of growth. Productive investments and measures to support SME are classical instruments to stimulate the economy. The thematic priorities of ESF, considering the overall objectives, additionally strengthen the adjustment of workers and the conditions of work in an economic change process. Indirectly they also promote growth by encouraging the human resources.
ERDF promotes all three Cohesion policy objectives, while ESF only finances measures striving for the two objectives of convergence, and regional competitiveness and employment. The European Territorial Cooperation objective to strengthen cross-border, trans-national and inter-regional cooperation is only financed by ERDF. It aims to improve common solutions for neighbouring authorities in the fields of urban, rural and coastal development, the development of economic relations, and the creation of networks of SME.17 Both Structural Funds (SF) are concentrated to SME. This similarity shows the special importance of SME in the EU, which are also the heart of the Lisbon growth and jobs strategy.18
The list of scopes shows the differences in the priorities of the funds. While ERDF covers the thematic areas of economic change and regional development and wants to improve conditions for enterprises and stakeholders, ESF will focus on employment, labour market and human capital in order to improve the skills of citizens. Overlaps in the scope of assistance in ESF and EFRE are found in Regulation (EC) No 1080/2006 in Art. 4 No 3, which covers the support of local development initiatives and neighbourhood services for creating new jobs if this is not explicitly regulated by ESF, as well as in Art. 4 No 10 about education investments to increase attractiveness and quality of life.
Between the SF synergies are also recognizable. The SF cover different scopes but pursue the same objectives. They both aim at creating win-win situations by strengthening potential synergies between e.g. growth, risk prevention, and environmental protection. The implementation of ESF interventions should only take place in close coordination with the objectives of ERDF. In various dimensions it is sensible to adjust and harmonise the procedure of both structural Funds. ERDF e.g. promotes investment plans within its economic policy aims, while ESF by systematic qualification and further education of persons provides the human resources. So both funds influence and depend on each other for their success.
Measures which create more and better jobs could make Europe a more attractive place to invest and work, in addition to strengthening the knowledge and innovation for growth. Synergies between these main areas and complementarities between the aims of the funds along with the realization of reform programmes by the Community and the MS are key to the success of the renewed LS. Programmes supported by both structural funds will target investments in innovation and research capacities as well as improving education and vocational training. Measures of ESF will equip workers with the skills to tackle changes and take up new activities. ERDF will contribute to improve the attractiveness of regions and cities through the support of economic infrastructure.
1 COM: Facing the challenge. The Lisbon strategy for growth and employment, Report from the High Level Group chaired by Wim Kok, Luxemburg 2004
2 Becker/ Zaun: Die neue strategische Planung der europäischen Kohäsionspolitik, p. 3ff., Berlin 2007
3 Seyfried: European Cohesion and Funding Policies, p. 5, Berlin 2008
4 Fräss-Ehrfeld: EU-Förderungen 2007-2013 - Kohäsionspolitik NEU, p. 74, Wien 2007
5 Art. 3 of the COUNCIL REGULATION (EC) No 1083/2006, Brussels 2006
6 Becker/Zaun: Die neue strategische Planung der europäischen Kohäsionspolitik, p. 11, Berlin 2007
7 COM(2005) 330 final, p. 2, Brussels 2005
8 Seyfried: European Cohesion and Funding Policies, p. 6, Berlin 2008
9 ibid., p. 5
10 Bundesministerium für Umwelt, Naturschutz und Reaktorsicherheit: Lissabon-Strategie, Berlin 2008
11 Council Decision L 291/2006: Community strategic guidelines on cohesion, Brussels 2006
12 ESPON Project 3.2: Scenarios on the territorial future of Europa, p. 34 ff., Luxembourg 2007
13 COM: Growing Regions, growing Europe; Fourth report on economic and social cohesion, p. viii, Brussels 2007
14 Regulation (EC) No 1080/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council, Art. 2, Brussels 2006
15 Regulation (EC) No 1081/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council, Art. 2, Brussels 2006
16 European Council decision: Community strategic guidelines 2007-13, Brussels 2006
17 EU, SCADPlus: General provisions ERDF - ESF - Cohesion Fund (2007-2013), Brussels 2008
18 COM(2005) 330 final, p. 2, Brussels 2005
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