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Cohesion Policy in support of growth and jobs - Community Strategic Guidelines, 2007-13
The Community strategic guidelines are an important part of the new cohesion policy starting in 2007. On the basis of the strategic guidelines, the Member States draw up their cohesion policy priorities. The guidelines contribute to the realisation of other Community priorities, such as those deriving from the Lisbon strategy and the integrated guidelines for growth and jobs. They are mainly concerned with investment, jobs, knowledge and innovation, territorial cohesion and cooperation.
Council Decision 2006/702/EC of 6 October 2006 on Community strategic guidelines on cohesion [Official Journal L 291 of 21.10.06].
The strategic guidelines for cohesion policy after 2007 have two objectives:
- to strengthen the strategic dimension of cohesion policy with a view to ensuring that Community priorities are better integrated into the national and regional development programmes; and
- to ensure greater ownership of cohesion policy on the ground, as reflected in a reinforced dialogue in the partnerships between the Commission, the Member States and the regions and the creation of a clearer division of responsibilities between the Commission, Member States and the Parliament.
The re-launch of the Lisbon strategy
At the March 2005 European Council, the Lisbon Strategy was renewed with the adoption of the partnership for growth and jobs. In line with this strategy, cohesion policy must be focused on promoting sustainable growth, competitiveness and jobs.
The strategic guidelines identify those areas in which cohesion policy can contribute to the achievement of other Community priorities, including those deriving from the Lisbon strategy. They are also in line with the integrated guidelines for growth and jobs.
Priorities under the strategic guidelines
The strategic guidelines are focused on three priorities:
- improving the attractiveness of regions and cities in the Member States;
- encouraging innovation, entrepreneurship and growth in the knowledge economy; and
- creating more and better jobs.
Strategic Guidelines for 2007-2013
On the basis of these priorities, the guidelines aim to:
- make Europe and its regions more attractive places to invest and work;
- improve knowledge and innovation;
- create more and better jobs; and
- take account of the territorial dimension of cohesion policy.
Investment and jobs
The Communication lists three groups of measures for making Europe and its regions a more attractive place to invest and work.
First, transport infrastructures must be expanded and improved. With this in mind, the Member States must give priority to the 30 projects of European interest by investing in secondary connections. In addition, better access to rail infrastructure and improved connectivity of landlocked territories to the Trans-European network (TEN-T) must be encouraged. The same applies to the environmental dimension of transport networks and the development of short-sea shipping.
Secondly, the synergies between environmental protection and growth must be strengthened so as to guarantee the sustainability of economic growth, innovation and job creation. With this in mind, the Commission recommends investing in infrastructures, creating attractive conditions for businesses and their staff and putting in place risk prevention measures. In addition, the EU's Kyoto commitments must be taken into account.
Thirdly, traditional energy dependency must be reduced through improvements in energy efficiency and use of renewable energies.
Knowledge and innovation
The aims of growth and job creation will require a structural shift in the economy towards knowledge-based activities. To achieve this, it will be necessary to:
- increase and improve investment in research and technological development (RTD), especially in the private sector (including through public-private partnerships (PPPs), small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and cooperation among companies);
- facilitate innovation and encourage the creation of companies with the objective of promoting a climate which promotes the production, dissemination and use of new knowledge (entrepreneurship);
- promote the information society and the dissemination of information and communication technology (ICT) equipment to companies and households; and
- improve access to finance by creating financial engineering mechanisms, while supporting financial instruments other than subsidies.
To create more and better jobs, cohesion policy must aim to address the challenges highlighted in the European employment strategy. In particular, more people must be attracted into and retained in employment through the modernisation of social protection systems.
In addition, worker adaptability and labour market flexibility must be increased by investing in human capital through improvements in education and skills. In line with these priorities, the administrative capacity of public administrations and services must be increased and a healthy labour force maintained.
Territorial cohesion and cooperation
Cohesion policy must be adapted to the particular needs and characteristics of individual regions in terms of the problems and opportunities which derive from their geographical situation. The territorial dimension includes the following themes:
- the contribution of cities (urban areas) to growth and jobs (in order to promote entrepreneurship, local employment and community development, for example);
- supporting the economic diversification of rural areas (e.g. the synergy between structural, employment and rural development policies); and
- cross-border, transnational and interregional cooperation focused on the aims of growth and job creation.