The Commission published the 8th Cohesion Report on 9 February, presenting a first picture of the impact of the coronavirus pandemic at the regional level. It also shows both positive and negative trends in EU regions, cities and rural areas.
This report, which assesses economic, social and territorial cohesion in the EU, addresses current trends and challenges such as the growing innovation divide and regional disparities in employment rates. The report highlights that the green and digital transitions will be key drivers of EU growth, but argues that, without appropriate developments in cohesion policy, new disparities may appear.
The report both identifies problems in cross-border regions, such as lower transport performance, as well as placing cross-border cooperation as a tool to remedy cohesion issues. Specifically, the report recognises that strengthening cross-border and interregional cooperation is an essential part of strengthening the role of regions in building Europe’s future.
With the pandemic having exacerbated and highlighted the difficulties of having to cross borders for work, education, healthcare and other services the significance of cross-border cooperation has been demonstrated. The report identifies the need for better governance of functional border areas, a stronger coordination of services, infrastructure and investments, and exchange of experience supported by pan-European research to optimise cross-border cooperation and further European cohesion.