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A New Framework For Relaunching the European Development Policy
No union of states with unified markets for labour, capitals, goods and services can maintain itself without a development policy. The EU is no exception and needs a long-term strategy with the aim of reducing both the under-utilisation of resources (inefficiency) of some of its regions and the social exclusion (inequality) of many EU citizens. Cohesion policy which accounts for 36 per cent of the total EU budget in the years 2007-2013 has been designed to achieve this task. Its general architecture still appears appropriate and modern. But results have definitely fallen short of objectives. An agenda for a reformed cohesion policy, is an independent report prepared for a comprehensive reform of cohesion policy. Its punch-lines of are as follows: 1) Concentration of two thirds of funding in three to four core priorities meeting the needs and expectations of European citizens. 2) A new contractual relationship between the commission and member states (regions) committing the latter to well-specified results and to those institutional changes needed in order to implement the grants effectively. 3) A greater commitment to mobilise local actors and to provide them with the means and skills to allow their knowledge and preferences to shape policy projects. 4) A significant investment in human resources and organizational changes in the commission in order to play the more demanding role envisaged by the other changes. 5) A new system of political checks and balances through the European parliament and a new formal council for cohesion policy. These changes are all required in order to truly implement a turn of EU policy towards people's needs.
Fabrizio Barca is a Director General at the Italian Ministry for Economics and Finance, where he previously served as Director of the Development Policies Department. He has been Research Director at the Bank of Italy Research Center "Servizio Studi" and president of the OECD committee for regional policies. He has been teaching and currently teaches in several French and Italian universities. He is the author of various volumes and essays, such as Imprese in cerca di padrone (1994), Compromesso senza riforme nel capitalismo italiano (1999), Italia Frenata. Paradossi e lezioni della politica per lo sviluppo (2006). In 2008/09, he has been working on an independent report on reform prospects for the european cohesion policy.