Report from experts on Cohesion Policy proposes ways to maximise the effectiveness and impact of Cohesion Policy in the future

©European Union, 2019, Source: EC - Audiovisual Service©European Union, 2019, Source: EC - Audiovisual Service

Today, the independent Group of High-Level Specialists on the Future of Cohesion Policy presented its report, which assessed the functioning of Cohesion Policy and included recommendations on how to ensure the Policy continues to promote prosperity and convergence across the EU.

These recommendations will add to the ongoing reflections and body of opinions from many stakeholders and institutions on the future of Cohesion Policy.

Set up by Commissioner for Cohesion and Reforms Elisa Ferreira, the Group – which is independent from the Commission – looked at ways to ensure that Cohesion Policy continues to support growth and recovery across Europe’s regions, all the while delivering on the green and digital transition and helping regions adjust to ongoing demographic, industrial, and geopolitical challenges.

The Report is the outcome of intense work carried out by the Group throughout this past year, enriched by academic contributions, input papers prepared by the Commission, and presentations by different stakeholders.

The Report is structured around three key questions to reflect on the future of Cohesion Policy beyond 2027:

  • Why is Cohesion Policy crucial for the future of Europe?
  • What does Cohesion Policy do, and what should it do?
  • How can Cohesion Policy better fulfil its mission of economic, social, and territorial cohesion in the context of the green and digital transition and demographic change?

The Group makes the following recommendations. Cohesion Policy should:

  • be more place-based, with future-oriented investments tailored to the unique strengths, challenges, and needs of each region;
  • promote a holistic approach for social policy by investing more in human capital development and social integration to prevent and reduce inequalities in all territories;
  • utilise local capabilities and potential to develop future opportunities for inclusive and sustainable growth through diversification and collaboration;
  • build better national and regional institutions by putting capacity-building and innovation on par with investment in infrastructure as well as productive capital;
  • deliver more effective and inclusive development strategies by using the principles of strong partnership and shared management, bringing together stakeholders from different levels of government and civil society;
  • connect regions to harness global opportunities and to deliver more sustainable and resilient innovation;
  • become more performance-based, blending this approach with its territorial dimension;
  • be better embedded in the economic governance system;
  • streamline its administrative procedures and adopt more efficient, user-friendly approaches to simplify processes; and
  • remain focused on its original mission of driving sustainable development and boosting competitiveness, while maintaining flexibility to address urgent challenges.


Upon the initiative of Commissioner Ferreira, in January 2023 the Commission established the Group of High-Level Specialists on the Future of Cohesion Policy. The Group was chaired by Professor Andrés Rodriguez-Pose and consisted of EU-wide representatives from academia, national and regional authorities, and civil society. Its members have been selected based on their experience in Cohesion Policy, economic and social governance, and European integration.

The Group held 10 meetings on topics related to the future of Cohesion Policy. Discussions were streamed live and are available online to ensure that all stakeholders have access to the wealth of information produced and the rich debates held amongst its members.

The reflection on the Future of Cohesion Policy will continue at the 9th Cohesion Forum, to be held from 11 to 12 April 2024.

The Commission will publish the 9th Cohesion Report in Spring 2024.