What is EU regional and cohesion policy?

The policy objective of tackling regional disparity can be traced back to the Treaty of Rome. EU regional or cohesion policy developed from the recognition that the benefits and costs of the single market were not distributed equally and resulted in the creation or widening of regional disparities and reduction of competitiveness of certain areas. The promotion of economic, social and territorial cohesion would sit alongside, and balance, the achievement of the internal market, ensuring the benefits could be felt by all and that all parts of the EU territory could compete equally.

Whilst originally EU regional policy was redistributive across member states, geographically the policy now covers the EU territory in its entirety. It is increasingly linked to wider economic governance in the EU with a focus on regional competitiveness as well as cohesion. Whilst the UK, as a richer member state, is a net contributor to the EU budget, at regional level there is significant variation. Poorer UK regions are net beneficiaries of the EU as a result of their eligibility for EU cohesion funding and other EU programmes. The impact of Brexit will therefore vary across UK regions according to their level of receipts.

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