EU Regional Policy and Economic Cohesion in Spain

Thumbnail Image
Werley, Kaitlyn Brooke
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
As one of the largest aspects of the European Union’s budget, regional policy has played an important role in the socioeconomic structure of the EU. The ultimate goal of the policy is to create economic and social cohesion within the EU and member states as a result of EU funding. However, due to its importance regional policy has also been subject to criticism regarding its overall effectiveness in spurring this convergence. As one of the most active members of the EU regarding regional policy, Spain has played an important role in both shaping the policy, and historically being one of the largest recipients of funding. However, the 2004 and 2007 enlargements had serious implications for EU regional policy, shifting it monumentally eastward. As a result, Spain saw a significant reduction in the number of regions that qualified for funding, as well as the total amount they could receive. This reduction has led to even more criticism and targeted analyses of the policy. Specifically, although there is a general consensus that cohesion funds have helped Spain and its regions converge with the EU average, it is not clear if there has been significant economic convergence within the country itself, especially since the 2004 enlargement. The 2007-2013 funding period was the first new funding period following the enlargement and the policy reforms that came with it. During this period, Spain had four Objective 1 regions, the highest priority for funding. These were Andalucía, Castilla-La Mancha, Extremadura, and Galicia. However, in the subsequent 2014-2020 period, only Extremadura remains an Objective 1 region; Andalucía and Castilla-La Mancha have been designated “phase out” regions; and Galicia is now a low-priority recipient. While understanding that this means their GDP per capita has increased against the EU average – whether from actual increases or the ‘statistical effect’ – we do not know how the economic situations in these regions have actually changed in relation to the other regions within Spain. Therefore, the goal of this bachelor’s essay will be to examine what, if any, convergence occurred within the Spanish regions during the 2007-2013 cohesion fund period.
European Union, Policy, Economics