Since the outbreak of the pandemic in Europe, Cohesion Policy has been at the forefront of the European response to the crisis, contributing to the economic recovery of the EU, in complementarity with other instruments, such as the new Recovery and Resilience Facility. Demonstrating its reactivity, current programmes from the 2014-2020 period have been reinforced (with REACT-EU) and amended to support sectors and regions critically affected by the crisis.
The 2021-2027 Multiannual Financial Framework in turn was geared towards a swift and resilient recovery, reinforcing convergence among EU regions, given the uneven territorial impact of the crisis. In this context, the legislative Cohesion Policy package for the 2021-2027 programming period entered into force on 1 July 2021. The newly reformed rules have been designed to increase the focus of Cohesion Policy on a ‘smarter’ and ‘greener’ Europe and create favourable conditions for investment with simplified delivery mechanisms and closer links to structural reforms.
Cohesion Policy will thus contribute to implementing the EU political agenda and in particular fostering the green transition and digital transformation. The European Union is committed to becoming the first climate-neutral bloc in the world by 2050. A Just Transition Fund has been established within the framework of Cohesion Policy, to ensure that the transition towards a climate-neutral economy happens in a fair way, leaving no people and no region behind.
Against this background, the Third Joint EU Cohesion Policy Conference - organised by the European Commission, Directorate-General for Regional and Urban Policy and RSA Europe together with the Croatian authorities - aims to take stock of the challenges and opportunities for Cohesion Policy. The timing of the Conference will allow critical assessment of research evidence and policy thinking on how cities and regions could best implement and reactively adapt their strategic funding priorities for the 2021-2027 programming period, in order to address development needs and opportunities effectively with the support of the Funds and in synergy with other EU instruments.
The Conference will bring together a limited number of participants from academia, the European Institutions and Member State authorities to debate where Cohesion Policy is going, the evidence for its performance to date, and how its contribution to sustainable growth and jobs can be maximised.