Conditional Cohesion Policy: New Incentives for a Liberal Europe?

Cohesion Policy is a major driver for economic prosperity and social cohesion throughout the entire EU. As the EU’s main investment policy it has an allocated expenditure of EUR 356 billion, making it the EU’s second largest budget item equivalent to almost one third (32.5 %) of the total EU budget. As the discussions on the EU’s post-2020 budget are getting underway, questions are raised about the introduction of new conditions for receiving cohesion funds. These “ex ante conditionalities” were first introduced in the current financial cycle and are seen by many as powerful incentive for Member States and regions to carry out reforms. How effective was the use of these conditionalities so far? Can the conditionalities be expanded to other policy areas, such as adherence to the rule of law and migration management? And is this an effective way to respond to new policy challenges?

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