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What If Regions and Cities Governed EU Regional and Urban Policy?

Wolfgang Petzold

This article examines the recent reform of EU cohesion policy, looking at its governance and implementation, and suggests that regional players should be involved more systematically in its future design. Safeguarding a major share of the EU budget for the period 2014-2020 for the policy came at a price: Never before has it been so complex for Member States, regions and cities to implement EU cohesion policy funding. Difficult budget negotiations at the European Council and an increase in the European Parliament’s (EP's) powers over the Common Provisions Regulation (CPR) for the European Structural and Investment (ESI) Funds partly explain why negotiations on the regulatory framework were the longest ever reported. However, an overly complex legal framework risks a policy switch-off by the Member States and regions, which are responsible for its implementation. Having conducted a survey of the national and regional authorities, the article concludes that better use must be made of their knowledge when designing future EU cohesion policy reforms.

The author is Head of Unit at the European Committee of the Regions (CoR). The views expressed in this article are his own. An earlier version was presented on the occasion of the conference “Challenges for the new EU Cohesion Policy 2014-2020. An academic and policy debate”, held by the European Commission’s Regional and Urban Policy DG, the Latvian Presidency of the EU and the Regional Studies Association between 4th and 6th February 2015 in Riga.


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