The Controversial EU Cohesion Policy Falls Short

Feb 14, 2015 | 14:01 GMT

The Controversial EU Cohesion Policy Falls Short
A tram passes the giant euro symbol outside the European Central Bank headquarters in Frankfurt.

(Hannelore Foerster/Getty Images)


Funding will not be enough to halt the political fragmentation in the European Union. This is especially the case with the European Union's Cohesion Policy, a series of investment programs for the bloc's poorest regions and one of its most expensive policies. The idea behind these programs is that all members of the continental bloc would eventually rise to the same level of economic development. This equality would in turn solidify the legitimacy of the continental integration process. But Europe's economic and political crisis has shown that decades of integration and billions of euros' worth of EU investment have created only limited political and economic cohesion in Europe.

In many countries, corruption and domestic constraints prevent cohesion funds from going where they would be most useful. More important, the EU Cohesion Policy was designed for times of economic prosperity. Though the policy involves significant amounts of money, it is a fraction of what many Southern and Eastern European countries need to solve their financial problems and social crises. Brussels could threaten to withdraw cohesion funds as a means of pressuring rebellious countries, but such coercion is not the same thing as cohesion.

The investment programs meant to assist disadvantaged EU countries have done little to guarantee economic and political unity in the bloc....

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