Professor John Bachtler highlighted five major questions for the future of Cohesion policy in the debate on the new Multiannual Financial Framework after 2020, at an Expert Seminar ‘Cohesion policy experience and perspective after 2020’ organised in Bratislava under the auspices of the Deputy Prime Minister of the Slovak Republic, Mr Peter Pellegrini on 30 May 2017.
In his presentation to the Seminar, John Bachtler argued that Cohesion policy needs to re-establish its European added value in relation to contemporary EU challenges and in particular show that it is aligned with EU objectives, with a clear link to EU economic governance.
The policy has an increasing track record of effective performance, supported by the 2013 reforms, but the effectiveness of the policy is not widely understood and (crucially) is not universal; policy performance is undermined by inadequate reforms and institutional capacity in some countries.
Cohesion policy also needs to show that it is ‘close to the citizen’ but communication continues to be a problem, with big variations in awareness and knowledge of local projects across the EU.
A more flexible use of resources will also be needed after 2020.
Lastly, John noted that the implementation of Cohesion policy is seen as its ‘Achilles heel’ with an urgent need not just to simplify rules and procedures but also to consider more differentiation in the implementation models.