EU COHESION POLICY IN THE POST-CRISIS EUROPEAN UNION: CONVERGENCE AND COMPETITIVENESS

A. Bargaoanu, L. Radu

National University of Political Studies and Public Administration (ROMANIA)
Our paper analyzes the evolution of the EU’s Cohesion Policy through the lenses of the key theories of development. We build on some of the latest theoretical contributions in the field of development and globalization (Stiglitz, 2012; Piketty, 2014). Our analysis highlights two interrelated processes. First, the Cohesion Policy has transformed from a purely redistributive policy into a structural policy, thus having become a means of counterweightening the (real and perceived) negative effects of the EU’s expansion. Second, the economic crisis has redirected the focus of this policy from cohesion towards competitiveness, and this has often happened at the expense of the former. We aim at sheding light on the role played by the Cohesion and Investment Funds in the implementation of the Cohesion Policy – understood as an European policy with a tremendously important stake in the recovery of the EU’s economic wellbeing. Furthermore, it is our objective to reveal that it is vital for the Cohesion Policy to remain loyal to its development targets, without undermining the necessity to (further) promote real convergence between East and West, and between North and South, respectively. Thus, in the post-crisis European Union, the goal of the Cohesion Policy should be two-fold: on the one hand, it should boost innovation and competitiveness, whereas on the other it should not neglect its essential raison d’etre that is creating the grounds for a real European economic and territorial convergence.