EU regional development policy
- The need for a European regional policy
- Coordination of national and European policies
- Coordination of European financial instruments
- Appraisal and outlook of the European regional policy
- Bibliography on EU's regional policy
The main objective of the common regional policy is the reduction of existing regional disparities and the prevention of further regional imbalances in the EU by transferring European resources to problem regions using the financial instruments of the European Union known as the Structural Funds. The common regional policy of the EU does not seek to supersede national regional policies. In accordance with the principle of subsidiarity [see section 3.2], the Member States, through their own regional policies, are the first ones who must solve the problems in their regions by promoting infrastructures and financially supporting job-creation investments. However, the common regional policy coordinates national regional policies by formulating guidelines and establishing certain principles in order to avoid competition for regional aid between Member States. It coordinates also the various policies and financial instruments of the EU to give them a "regional dimension" and thus more impact on regions most in need of care.
The Committee of the Regions set up by the Treaty of Maastricht in order to enhance the role of regional authorities in the institutional system of the Union [see section 4.2.4], plays an important role in the forecasting of regional tendencies and in the management of structural interventions of the EU. In the enlarged Union, where the unequal distribution of wealth among regions would be greatly increased, the democratic legitimacy and the role of the Committee of the Regions should also be increased [see section 4.4].
The common regional policy keeps step with the overall multinational integration process. Although a stated objective of the Treaty of Rome was to reduce the development gap between the different regions of the Community, it did not endow the common institutions with any instruments to this end, other than the loans of the European Investment Bank and the assessment by the Commission of regional aid granted by the Member States, with the aim notably of preventing the States outbidding one another in an attempt to attract foreign investment. With the prospect of completion of the single market by 1992 [see section 6.1], the Single European Act [see section 2.1] acknowledged the major contribution that a common regional policy could make to improve the economic and social cohesion of the European Community. This was the starting point for the Community's new regional policy based notably on the coordination of its financial instruments and the coordination of national and common policies to help regions which need an extra push towards economic prosperity. The 1988 reform of the Structural Funds, in the context of a package of measures including the reform of the common agricultural policy and the equilibrium of the Community budget, known as "Delors package I" [see section 3.4], has led to better integration of the various actions conducted under the banner of structural policies and contributed to the concept of an all-round, consistent strategy for economic and social cohesion in the Community/Union. The Structural Funds have been reformed again in 1999 and again in 2006.