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Weakening Cohesion as a Security Challenge for the European Union

Beata Farkas

One of the fundamental goals of European integration is to provide opportunities to less-developed Member States (MS) for both convergence and strengthening of economic and social cohesion. Prior to the 2008 global financial crisis and the eurozone crisis, the convergence process across the EU had spectacular results. The aftermath of the crises, however, threatens the prospects of convergence in the EU for both eurozone and non-eurozone MS. The 2013 EBRD Transition Report highlights this issue. Surprisingly, the EU's cohesion policy, which could mitigate the crises' impact, has not received a prominent status either in the forthcoming programming period or in the multiannual financial framework 2014-2020. This paper explores this paradox. It is argued that despite the severe limits to convergence, cohesion policy must remain an essential part of the EU policy-framework. Even if the efficiency of cohesion expenditures is not satisfactory and needs to be improved, the EU member states should not abandon their support for cohesion. The raison d'être of cohesion policy is not the absolute convergence that was hoped for in the 1970s or at the beginning of the post-socialist system change. Instead, it is the avoidance of both divergence and destabilization of peripheral EU countries that should drive the implementation of cohesion policy in the EU today. Without cohesion policy, both security and sustainability of the four freedoms, the achievements of the European monetary and economic union, may be endangered.



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