9th Cohesion Forum Panel Discussion and FEPS Scientific Council

9th Cohesion Forum Panel Discussion and FEPS Scientific Council

On 12/4/2024 Anna Diamantopoulou was invited to participate as a discussant at the 9th Cohesion Forum, held in Brussels, in order to discuss the new Cohesion Report.
The panel’s title was “Cohesion: an objective shared among all policies”, and fellow panelists were:

• Ivan Bartoš, Deputy Prime Minister for Digitisation and Minister of Regional Development,


• Wille Rydman, Minister of Economic Affairs, Finland

• Tibor Navracsics, Minister of Public Administration and Regional Development, Hungary

• Mirja Vehkaperä, Member of the European Committee of the Regions

Moderator: Alison Hunter, European Policy Centre

DIKTIO’s President was asked about which EU and national policies might benefit from a greater place-based assessment, and how could this be achieved.

She replied that “the first simple and easy answer, taking into account the developments of the 21st century, would be to invest in digitalisation, mainly in infrastructure and skills, with a specific focus on least prepared regions.

However, even if we could implement it immediately in some magical way, it would not be effective if there were no conditions for social investments and specific policies that would retain the human resources in the less privileged regions, and at the same time attract others.

In the report of the HLG on the future of social protection and the welfare state which we presented in 2023, an “age-based policy” is put forward, meaning a holistic social policy that addresses the life cycle approach, proving that investment at every age—from childhood to old age—is necessary for social cohesion and development. In Europe today the average risk of child poverty is 20%, with some areas reaching up to 35%. A problematic start in a person’s life impacts education, work, pensions, and the fourth age. Thus, a comprehensive answer to your question would be that the combination of European and national policies with priorities on children, long-term care, and the life cycle approach would be an essential precondition for the effectiveness of all other policies.

Regarding how these policies could be implemented: Especially in this social approach, the fundamental principles of cohesion policy must apply. Recording of specific conditions, partnership between the EU, national governments, local authorities and civil society, as well as an integrated program of goals for social investment for every stage of life. What I mean is: a focus on children and youth (recommendations of our report), a new approach to the particularities of working life due to new employment models, new ways of active ageing and long-term care facilities, primarily for the less developed regions where finding third-country workers (especially women) to support those over 75 is very challenging.

In the cohesion report, there is a specific reference to achieving the targets of the European Pillar of Social Rights as well as to the issue of employment. It also demonstrates with evidence how Europe came out from the recent crises more smoothly compared to the economic crisis of 2008. The significance of the welfare state and of Europe’s direct intervention -such as the RRF, Cohesion policy interventions and the Support to mitigate Unemployment Risks in an Emergency (SURE) programme- is reaffirming once again the primary importance of the welfare state in Europe.

The 20th century welfare state succeeded in guaranteeing the economic security of the elderly while the 21st must further guarantee fair lifetime employment opportunities for the youth. The miracle of the European welfare state was fundamentally rooted on

income-based financial support for the weak. Nowadays, this is not enough; there is a growing need to prioritize social investments, based on qualitative and quantitative criteria. Imperative interventions and policy mixes in the form of integrated systems and policies are required especially at both ends of the human life cycle.”

During her stay in Brussels, Anna Diamantopoulou also participated in the Foundation for European Progressive Studies’s Scientific Council meeting, held at the foundations’ headquarters.