European Commission Publishes Eighth Cohesion Report

Latest Cohesion Report assesses economic, social and territorial cohesion in the EU.

Every three years, the European Commission publishes a report on the economic, social, and territorial cohesion in the European Union, presenting the progress and the EU’s role as a driver for regional development. It analyses the evolution of cohesion in the EU according to a wide range of indicators, such as prosperity, employment, education levels, and accessibility and governance.

The Eighth Cohesion Report presents the main changes in territorial disparities over the past decade and how policies have affected these disparities.

Key findings from the report include:

  • Cohesion funding grew from the equivalent of 34% to 52% of total public investment from the 2007-2013 programming period to the 2014-2020 programming period
  • Since 2001, less developed regions in Eastern Europe have been catching up with the rest of the EU. At the same time however, many middle-income and less developed regions, especially in the southern and south-western EU, have suffered from economic stagnation or decline
  • Convergence between Member States has accelerated, but internal regional disparities within the fast-growing Member States have increased
  • Employment has been growing, but regional disparities remain larger than before 2008
  • The number of people at risk of poverty and social exclusion fell by 17 million between 2012 and 2019
  • The regional innovation divide in Europe has grown, due to a lack of investment in R&D and weaknesses in innovation ecosystems of least developed regions
  • The EU population is ageing and will start shrinking in the years to come. In 2020, 34% of the EU population lived in a shrinking region. This is projected to reach 51% in 2040

The report concludes that while the green and digital transitions will be key drivers of EU growth, without appropriate policy action, new economic, social and territorial disparities may appear.

The Cohesion Report will also feed the discussions at the upcoming Cohesion Forum on 17-18 March 2022, which brings together representatives of EU institutions, national, regional and local authorities from all Member States, social and economic partners, non-governmental organisations and academia.