Increasing prosperity across the Union
Audrey Libres, 21, went back to college
in Champagne, France, to qualify as a trainee florist.
© European Union, 2011
Cohesion policy is a major driver of growth and competitiveness in the EU. On 21 February, the General Affairs Council issued guidelines for future policy.
János Martonyi, Hungarian Foreign Minister and President of the General Affairs Council, summed up the ministers' debate as follows: "There is a consensus that we definitely need a cohesion policy also in the future. It must be efficient. It must be cost-effective. It must be differentiated. At the same time it must be very well concentrated and focussed. It must be aligned very closely with Europe 2020."
The ministers' conclusions, based on the Commission's fifth cohesion report, stressed the need to continue reducing disparities between the levels of development of the various regions.
Under its cohesion policy, the EU co-finances infrastructure projects, develops the information society and helps citizens acquire new skills, to name just a few examples. Its aims are to help poorer regions to catch up with the more affluent ones, to improve people's employment prospects and to advance sustainable economic development all over the Union.
The current rules for cohesion policy will expire in 2013. On the basis of guidance from the Council, the Commission is hoping to present legislative proposals before the summer.
Press release (pdf)
Press conference webcast
5th Cohesion Report
European Social Fund
European Regional Development Fund