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Cohesion policy to deliver the Lisbon Strategy (2007-2013)
The Commission gives an overview of the strategies and national programmes in the field of cohesion policy for the period 2007-2013. It shows that most of the 347 billion euro earmarked for this policy will be invested in the priorities of the Lisbon strategy, namely: the knowledge-based economy, research, development and innovation, human capital and business development.
Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions of 11 December 2007 – Member States and Regions delivering the Lisbon strategy for growth and jobs through EU cohesion policy, 2007-2013 [COM(2007) 798 final – Not published in the Official Journal].
The Commission sets out an initial overview of the results of the negotiations relating to the new generation of cohesion programmes and strategies. It looks at the part which these can play in the renewed Lisbon strategy.
This Communication is part of the package defining the actions taken by the European Union to achieve the Lisbon objectives for 2008-2011. It assesses the progress made towards achieving the objectives of this strategy in the period 2005-2007.
Cohesion policy at the heart of the Lisbon process
Since its reform in 2006, cohesion policy has focused on the achievement of the priorities of the Lisbon strategy for the period 2007-2013, namely: making the EU an attractive place to invest and work, encouraging innovation, entrepreneurship and growth of the knowledge economy, and creating more and better jobs.
The reformed cohesion policy has brought about the decentralisation of responsibilities to local and regional partners, the pooling of their knowledge and resources, and the development of strategies suited to local and regional levels.
The efforts to achieve the Lisbon objectives must continue, taking account of the variability of contexts and the difficulties facing each country. For instance, the Member States are required to provide funding for actions which achieve these objectives and for the structural reforms set out in the National Reform Programmes (NRPs).
Focusing on the Lisbon priorities
For 2007-2013, the budget for cohesion policy amounts to 347 billion euro, with an additional 160 billion euro from public and private national resources. Around 80 % of these resources will be allocated to regions under the Convergence objective: 65 % of these funds will be used for the Lisbon strategy. Regions under the Regional Competitiveness and Employment Objective will account for 16 % of cohesion policy resources, 82 % of which will be used for actions linked to the Lisbon strategy.
Efforts will focus on the four priorities of the Lisbon strategy, namely:
- investing more in knowledge and innovation;
- unlocking business potential (particularly of SMEs);
- improving employability through flexicurity;
- better management of energy resources.
Investing in knowledge and innovation
The cohesion programmes invest 85 billion euro in knowledge and innovation, in particular in order to improve the innovation capacity of businesses (49.5 billion euro) and skills, to disseminate, use and design technologies, to create businesses and promote a more flexible workforce.
In this field, it is important to exploit existing poles of excellence, improve national and regional capacities, leverage private financing and draw on existing potential. This can be done through joint action to launch a new generation of world-class infrastructures, laboratories and research instruments.
Unlocking business potential
Cohesion policy helps small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to invest in human capital, install efficient management systems, offer a good working environment, anticipate economic change and reduce administrative formalities.
For 2007-2013, almost 19 billion euro are allocated to helping SMEs improve their competitiveness and gain access to the world markets. Thanks to the JEREMIE and JESSICA initiatives, which seek to improve the availability of innovative financial engineering products in the regions, SMEs can also have access to other sources of aid.
The JASMINE initiative has been adopted in the field of supporting micro-credit, in order to develop employment and boost social inclusion. A Communication proposing guidance on the synergies between cohesion policy, the Research Framework Programmes and the Competitiveness and Innovation Programme has also been issued.
Improving employability through flexicurity
For the period 2007-2013, around 50 billion euro have been allocated under cohesion policy to financing various aspects of flexicurity. The aim of the new programmes is to improve employability through flexicurity by helping businesses to develop human resources strategies and more productive working methods and to ease the transition process resulting from restructuring.
Labour market and education and training policies ensure the provision of the necessary skills and qualifications for the world of work. Funding earmarked for the reform of education and training systems will be increased (25.3 billion euro).
Better management of energy resources
The new programmes attach greater importance to improving the management of energy resources and the move towards an efficient and integrated energy policy. Compared to the period 2000-2006, investments in renewable energies and energy efficiency will be five times higher for the Convergence objective and seven times higher for the Regional Competitiveness and Employment objective.
Addressing recommendations and priorities
Investments to further the achievement of the Lisbon objectives affect a number of fields, the complexity of which could lead to difficulties for the Member States. In order to deal with this, 51 billion euro are earmarked for programmes which aim to strengthen synergies between environmental protection, risk prevention and growth.
A suitable transport network is needed for economic development. Priority is given to the development of Trans-European Transport Networks (TEN-T), with a budget of 38 billion euro. Projects which facilitate access to TEN-T and promote more environmentally-friendly transport systems will benefit from 34 billion euro.
Almost 3.6 billion euro will be used to help modernise public administrations and services and allow them to develop and implement effective policies. The JASPERS technical assistance facility will also help the new Member States to implement quality projects likely to receive EU financial support.
Overall, there is good cooperation between those responsible for coordinating the implementation of the NRPs (National Reform Programmes) and those developing strategies and programmes for cohesion policy. Efforts must continue to be made where this is not yet the case.
All stakeholders must cooperate intensively for the preparation and implementation of cohesion policy programmes. Cohesion policy associates both "vertical" partners (Community, national, regional and local authorities) and "horizontal" stakeholders (business representatives, trade unions, NGOs, etc.).
Evaluation and monitoring of cohesion policy in the Lisbon process
Regular reports on the contribution of cohesion policy to the improvement of growth and employment are presented for the purpose of cross-checking and to guarantee the coherent management of the NRPs and cohesion policy programmes.
The Member States will submit a report each year on the aid allocated to each programme in addition to reports in 2009 and 2012 on the contribution of cohesion policy to the Lisbon agenda.
The Commission will draft a report (in 2010 and 2013) on national contributions and the need to adjust the programmes to the new challenges.