What is the EU’s Cohesion Policy?

While the EU’s overarching goal is that to ensure peace and prosperity across the continent, the Union’s Cohesion Policy seeks to reduce disparities between its Member States and its regions. It is a key tool in putting the concept of European solidarity into practice, by ensuring that no one is left behind, and that disadvantaged citizens from all corners of the continent are able to share from the wealth created by their more prosperous peers.

This policy is implemented through hundreds of thousands of projects all over Europe that receive funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), the European Social Fund (ESF) and the Cohesion Fund.

According to the Lisbon Treaty, EU cohesion has three facets, these being economic, social and territorial.

What does the EU Cohesion Policy invest in?

The EU, through Managing Authorities in every Member State, invests in businesses of all sizes, including start-ups and the self-employed, in public organisations as well as in individuals of all kinds of abilities. These projects focus on a wide range of themes, including research and innovation, employment, environment, transport and public administraton.

National administrations are responsible to specify in their operational programmes how they intend to distribute the available funding between according to the thematic objectives stipulated by the union.

What are the main objectives of the Policy?

For the upcoming programming period, the EU had set to itself five concrete objectives – a Smarter Europe, a Greener, carbon free Europe, A more Connected Europe, a Social Europe and Europe closer to citizens. Each Member State has adopted its own national targets in these areas.

In order to reach these goals and address the diverse development needs in all EU regions, more than EUR350 billion has been set aside for Cohesion Policy for 2014-2020, that’s practically one-third of the whole EU budget.

How does Malta benefit from this Policy?

Since Malta joined the EU in 2004, the Cohesion Policy has invested in excess of €1.5 billion in a variety of initiatives which have improved Malta’s educational and health facilities, enhanced our historical assets, trained thousands of individuals and supported numerous businesses in their road towards innovation, growth and job creation.

For the next seven years, Malta has secured a total of €842 million in funds under the core Cohesion Policy. This amount, does not include a further €92 million additional funds for ReactEU from the Recovery Instrument.

For more information on the public administration of EU Funds in Malta, you can read more here.

Maria and Arthur are two characters born shortly after Malta’s membership in the EU. For them, being part of the European Union, is a natural part of their lives. They consider themselves as both Maltese and European citizens and dream that one day they will work or study in another European country. They also take an active interest in discovering, learning but also sharing knowledge about the changes that such membership brought to our lives.

Indeed, a lot has changed in the past sixteen years, including our currency, the type of jobs that we attract to our shores, the way we care more about environment, and even how we relate with the outside world. Many Maltese have found great employment opportunities around Europe, while many Europeans have decided to make Malta their home.

Malta is still a relatively young country, and EU membership meant a new phase in its development. Maria and Arthur will be taking us on a trip around the islands to take us through projects in Malta that have been partly created thanks to EU funds, sharing information on the difference such projects make to our daily lives.

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