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EU General Affairs Council to discuss future of cohesion policy

Government Communications Department
Publication date 29.11.2023 16.49
Press release

The EU General Affairs Council (GAC) will meet in Brussels to discuss cohesion issues on Thursday 30 November. The Council will exchange views on the implementation of the EU’s regional and structural policy and approve conclusions on the future of cohesion policy. Minister for European Affairs and Ownership Steering Anders Adlercreutz will represent Finland at the meeting.

In its conclusions, the Council stresses that cohesion policy must continue to be a basic pillar of the EU in order to strengthen economic, social and territorial cohesion, narrow gaps in the levels of development of the regions and reduce underdevelopment in the most vulnerable areas of the Union.

The conclusions state that cohesion policy should focus especially on rural regions, regions affected by industrial transition, regions with severe and permanent natural or demographic disadvantages (such as sparsely populated northern regions), and island, cross-border and mountain regions. The conclusions on the future of cohesion policy are acceptable to Finland.

“It is important that Finland’s role as Russia’s neighbour, and eastern border areas more generally, are also taken into account in the EU’s cohesion funding. Recent events have once again shown how important it is to ensure that border areas remain inhabited, secure and viable. This is important not only for Finland but for the entire EU,” says Minister Adlercreutz.

The ministers will also discuss the closure of the 2014–2020 programming period based on a background paper drawn up by the Presidency. The implementation of Finland’s programmes has proceeded well. 

The Member States will also hold a discussion on cohesion policy and European strategic autonomy. Finland considers it important to strengthen the EU’s strategic autonomy while also taking into account changes in the operating environment brought on by major power rivalries and geopolitical conflicts. Developing the international rules-based system is also a top priority.

In Finland’s view, the EU’s strategic autonomy must be based on developing its strengths, fair competition and participation in the global economy. Fair competition, a well-functioning single market and the efficient use of existing EU resources form the foundation for the EU’s long-term competitiveness and play a key role in solving current and future challenges.

The aim of the EU’s cohesion policy is to narrow development gaps between regions and to provide a basis for prosperity and wellbeing for people in vulnerable positions. The overall objective is to ensure a better economic, social and regional balance in Europe.

Inquiries: Sarita Friman, Senior Specialist for EU Affairs, tel. +358 50 441 0966 and Andreas Elfving, Special Adviser to the Minister, tel. +358 50 310 0274, Prime Minister’s Office