REGIONAL NEEDS, REGIONAL TARGETING AND REGIONAL GROWTH: AN ASSESSMENT OF EU COHESION POLICY IN UK REGIONS
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Regional needs, regional targeting and regional growth: an assessment of EU Cohesion Policy in UK regions

 

With the prospective exit of the UK from the European Union (EU), a crucial question is whether EU Structural Funds have been beneficial for the country and which aspects of Cohesion Policy should be maintained if EU funds are to be replaced. This paper addresses this question through a twofold investigation, assessing not only whether but also how EU funds have contributed to regional growth in the UK from 1994 to 2013. It documents a significant and robust effect of Cohesion Policy in the UK, with higher proportions of Structural Funds associated with higher economic growth both on the whole and particularly in the less developed regions of the country. In addition, it is shown that the strategic orientation of investments also plays a distinct role for regional growth. While concentration of investments on specific pillars seems to have no direct growth effects, unless regions can rely on pre-existing competitive advantages in key development areas, clear evidence is unveiled that targeting investments to specific areas of relative regional need has a significant and autonomous effect on growth. These findings have important implications for the design of regional policy interventions in Britain after Brexit.

KEYWORDS: European Union Cohesion Policy, UK, Structural Funds, regional policy design, Brexit
 
JEL: O18, R11, R53

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