EU Cohesion Policy
The European Commission (the Commission) published its third report on Cohesion entitled "A New Partnership for Cohesion – Convergence Competitiveness Cooperation" in February 2004. At the same time the Commission made proposals for the Financial Perspectives for the period 2007-2013, coupled with draft Regulations to guide the management and implementation of EU Regional Policy
These proposals envisaged a Cohesion Policy with stronger links to the need for sustainable economic growth in the EU (Lisbon and Gothenburg strategies) and to the European Employment Strategy, as well as increased emphasis on competitiveness, employment, and social cohesion. Significant changes were proposed in the method of planning, implementation and management of Strutural and Cohesion Funds.
Following the agreement reached on the budgetary framework and a period of discussion and consultation on the implementation proposals, the Council adopted in July 2006 a series of Regulations governing the next round of EU Regional Policy funding. These established a simplified set of objectives for Cohesion States and Regions by improving the conditions for growth and employment. This is the priority objective of EU Regional Policy and is where the bulk of the funding is concentrated. Outside these regions, a Regional Competitiveness and Employment Objective (RCE) is aimed at strenghtening regions' competitiveness, attractiveness and employment. Both of Ireland's regions are funded under this objective, with the BMW region qualifying for additional phasing-in support. There is also a third objective, European Territorial Cooperation, under which Ireland receives funding for, among other things, the PEACE II Programme.