Cohesion Policy seeks to make all regions more economically competitive, boosting employment and skills, and creating more and better jobs by strengthening their economic, social and territorial cohesion. Cohesion Policy co-finances around 50-70% of a project's costs and has supported about two million projects in 271 regions across the European Union.

Emerging new concepts

In October 2011, the Commission released an ambitious proposal for the next funding cycle, featuring an increased budget of €336bn with 70 per cent going towards the "less developed" regions and the remaining funds open to all regions. In their draft Regulation, the Commission set out the new concepts of Integrated Territorial Initiatives and Community Led Local Development. The strong message is that everything should be better connected - in terms of planning and delivery. Urban areas get a special mention with the earmarking of 5% of the overall ERDF. These are valuable entry points for the health gain approach, particularly the emphasis on integrated programming at regional level. There are some concerns that these innovative aspects of the Commission's proposals could be diluted as the European Parliament and the Council amend the draft legislation.

It is all in the timing - the window to input to the Parliament's position

The first step is a discussion in the European Parliament’s REGI and EMPL Committees on their draft reports on 29th May and 30th May respectively. Amendments are due by the end of June and the vote will be in July. These MEPs are the rapporteurs, responsible for leading the Committee reports:

Lambert van Nistelrooij MEP and Constanze Krehl MEP - Report on Structural instruments: common provisions report for all the funds (Regional Committee)

Jan Olbrchyt MEP - Report on the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) (Regional Committee)

Elisabeth Morin-Chartier MEP - Report on the European Social Fund (ESF) (Employment and Social Affairs committee - EMPL)

29th May - Consideration of draft reports in Regional Committee
30th May - Consideration of draft reports in Employment and Social Affairs Committee
June deadline (tbc) deadline for submitting amendments to reports.
July 2012 - Adoption of draft reports in REGI and Employment and Social Affairs committees (Brussels)
10th to 13th September – Adoption of final 1st reading reports in EP Plenary (Strasbourg)