New Challenges for Structural Funds

The EU has characterised regional policies in Europe since 1980s through the ‘Cohesion Policy’ (CP) and is still providing lagging regions with significant amount of funds. Furthermore, these policies have pushed Member States towards institutional decentralisation to better tailor policy intervention across regions. The current crisis has determined strong and highly heterogeneous impacts across EU regions pushing to reconsider main development policies to maximise their effects. While national effects and policies have been largely debated, regional and local consequences of the crisis have been left relatively marginal. In an updated strategic context (EU2020), the EU institutions have approved a reform of the CP as an investment policy aimed at reaching the European growth and jobs targets, and to operate in a radically different context. Specifically, the current reductions in national-regional transfers limit the margin of manoeuvre for regions, determining three main risks: Being incapable to effectively respond to place-specific challenges, reducing capabilities to sustain public investments projects focusing on short-term responses and undermining the process of regional decentralisation that allowed for place-based interventions. In order to address these challenges, the Territorial Capital (TC) approach is a promising explorative hypothesis, based on the recognition of the value of localised assets influencing regional productivity. The fundamental distinction is between the regional endowment of TC and the regional economic performance. According to this approach, the paper proposes to take into consideration these distinctions promoting investments in assets constituting the TC to support long-term regional productivity, and not only on the current regional performance that is affected by the economic cycle. A preliminary analysis is proposed for Italy to show both the decrease in public investments and the possibility to implement the TC approach based on already-available indicators.

 

Published with Rocco Luigi Bubbico, in European Structural and Investment Funds.

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