Ninth report on economic, social and territorial cohesion

EESC section opinion: Ninth report on economic, social and territorial cohesion

Key points

The EESC:

  • welcomes the presentation of the 9th Cohesion Report and regards the description of its results as comprehensive, as well as a useful starting point to take stock of the lessons learned;

  • recommends focusing investments and policies on boosting the manufacturing base in order to enhance upward territorial cohesion, stressing that a positive correlation between productivity growth and an increase in GDP per head has proved to be the only similarity between growth in all types of regions;

  • emphasises the importance of competitiveness in boosting economic cohesion and of productive investments in stimulating competitiveness and economic growth, which in turn has a positive spill-over effect on territorial and social cohesion. It also underlines the importance of expanding access to cohesion policy funds for productive investments to big companies which are part of the SME ecosystem, under certain conditions related to its cascading effect over territory and society. Economic cohesion results should not be measured only in terms of amount of economic investments in a certain area, but also in terms of territorial and social results;

  • stresses the importance of a functioning and inclusive labour market in increasing social cohesion, through measures aimed at empowering EU citizens and workers with the right set of skills to enter and move within the labour market. In this context, recommends pairing policies to promote employment with policies to stimulate employability, including by targeting the share of society which risks being left behind and promoting the inclusion of people who are currently not part of the labour market;

  • recommends promoting strategic investments in local and regional administration, in order to strengthen the system that plays a central role in implementing programmes. In fact, social, economic and territorial cohesion cannot be achieved without firstly achieving cohesion in public administrations’ capacity;

  • recommends ensuring the involvement of regional and local authorities, fulfilling the partnership principle and involving social partners and civil society organisations during any reflection on the future of the cohesion policy;

  • calls for the co-legislators to make the overall MFF budget more ambitious and to ensure adequate funding for the cohesion policy, including in view of the future need for EU investment in defence and of a 27+ European Union;

  • in this context, recommends considering future enlargements envisaged by the EU, which will require an effective and well-functioning cohesion policy, in order to guarantee the smooth integration of future Member States, without compromising investments in the current developing regions;

  • finally, recommends using automatic and easy-to-implement investment tools for the transition towards a smarter and greener Europe. The challenges posed by the fair green and digital transitions and their ambitious targets require speed and readiness.