Volume 44, Number 173,
April-June 2013
Common Agricultural and Cohesion Policy
in the Europe 2020 Strategy
Antonio González Temprano
( ...continuation )
THE EVOLUTION OF COHESION POLICY

One of the first questions to consider regarding cohesion policy is that, although the concept of “social and economic cohesion” was not institutionalized until the Single Act, achieving this objective has more or less been constant in European policy since the Treaty of Rome in 1957. While true that this notion does not appear in the Treaty, Article 2 assigns the Community the mission to drive harmonious development of economic activities, constant and balanced growth, greater stability and accelerated increases in standards of living for its citizens. Even so, it was not until 1986 when these objectives were formally set. Their specific content, however, has yet to be defined. The notion of cohesion continues to carry some ambiguity.

Article 130A of the Single Act establishes that “In order to promote its overall harmonious development, the Community shall develop and pursue its actions leading to the strengthening of its economic and social cohesion. In particular the Community shall aim at reducing disparities between the various regions and the backwardness of the least-favored regions.” Article 130 B completes this mandate with the obligation, both for the member States and the Community as a whole, to design policies that contribute to strengthening economic and social cohesion. This same article states that, “The Community shall support the achievement of these objectives by the action it takes through the structural funds.” Finally, Article 130D charges the Commission with presenting a global proposal to reform how Structural Funds work (herewith referred to as sf) following the agreements adopted in the Council on June 24, 1988. This reform entered into force in 1989.

Article B of the Maastricht Treaty or the Treaty on European Union (teu) of 1992, states that one of the objectives of the Union is to “strengthen economic and social cohesion.” In the consolidated version, Article 2 states that another objective of the European Union is to “promote economic and social progress and high levels of employment and achieve balanced and sustainable development, principally through the creation of a space without internal frontiers, the strengthening of economic and social cohesion…” It should be noted that in the Protocol on economic and social cohesion, the High Contracting Parties “reaffirm that promoting economic and social cohesion is vital for the full development and continued success of the Community and underline the importance of including economic and social cohesion in Article 2 and Article 3 of the Treaty.”

With the goal of achieving greater social and economic cohesion, the Cohesion Fund (herewith referred to as cf) was created to provide resources to countries whose per capita income was below 90% of the community average in ppp (purchasing power parity), and considerably expand appropriations destined for sf (erdf and esf). The creation of the cf, according to Regulation (ec) 1164/1994 institutionally culminates in the policy laid out with the Single Act and strengthens solidarity, the principle underlying the objective of economic and social cohesion. Economic and social cohesion is thus one of the backbone policies of the eu, as it contributes to reducing the worrisome income distribution among countries and regions and drives common economic growth, remaining secondary, of course, to national economic policies.

Similar to the teu, the consolidated version of the Treaty Establishing the European Community (tec) establishes economic and social cohesion as one of the objectives and missions of the eu. Article 2 (also previously Article 2) promotes: harmonious, balanced and sustainable development, a high level of competitiveness and convergence of economic results, increased standards of living, economic and social cohesion and solidarity among member States. Article 3 (also previously Article 3) indicates that in order to achieve the objectives outlined in Article 2, Community action must drive “the strengthening of economic and social cohesion.” Article 158 (previously 130A) expresses that “In order to promote its overall harmonious development, the Community shall develop and pursue its actions leading to the strengthening of its economic and social cohesion. In particular the Community shall aim at reducing disparities between the various regions and the backwardness of the least-favored regions, including rural zones.” Article 159 (previously 130 B) establishes that “member States shall conduct their economic policies and shall coordinate them in such a way as, in addition, to attain the objectives set out in Article 158. The formulation and implementation of the Community's policies and actions and the implementation of the internal market shall take into account the objectives set out in Article 158 and shall contribute to their achievement. The Community shall also support the achievement of these objectives by the action it takes through the Structural Funds (European Agricultural Guidance and Guarantee Fund, Guidance Section; European Social Fund; European Regional Development Fund), the European Investment Bank and the other existing Financial Instruments.” Finally, Article 160 (previously 130C) establishes the following: “The European Regional Development Fund is intended to help to redress the main regional imbalances in the Community through participation in the development and structural adjustment of regions whose development is lagging behind and in the conversion of declining industrial regions.”

Neither the Treaty of Amsterdam nor the Treaty of Nice introduced anything new worthy of mention, but the Treaty of Lisbon is rather more notable. First, it incorporates territorial cohesion into the economic and social cohesion mentioned in previous Treaties, giving rise to the first significant modification to the cohesion policy. From this point forward it is necessary to speak of economic, social and territorial dimensions of cohesion policy. A sign of this concern for territorial cohesion is the adoption of the Green Book in 2008.3 On the other hand, it reinforces the idea that a policy of economic, social and territorial cohesion is more than just a solidarity mechanism, which was the underlying idea of the Single Act. Based on this idea, cohesion policy is directly implicated in increasing the competitiveness of the eu in international markets.

3 The Green Paper opens a debate on territorial cohesion policy to drive competitiveness and sustainable development.

Published in Mexico, 2012-2017 © D.R. Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM).
PROBLEMAS DEL DESARROLLO. REVISTA LATINOAMERICANA DE ECONOMÍA, Volume 49, Number 193, April-June 2018 is a quarterly publication by the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Ciudad Universitaria, Coyoacán, CP 04510, México, D.F. by Instituto de Investigaciones Económicas, Circuito Mario de la Cueva, Ciudad Universitaria, Coyoacán,
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