Online ISSN 2286-0266
Print ISSN 1223-0685
Copyright © 2021
Œconomica by SOREC
Bianca-Georgiana PETRE
Academia de Studii Economice din Bucureşti

In the midst of competing demands triggered by historical decisions and novel challenges of the 21st century, the EU’s long-term budget is once again expected to capitalize on its finite resources in the most efficient manner. In the context of the 2021-2027 Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF), which has been situated at the heart of a long-standing debate on “the future of Europe”, this research study investigates the impact of the reform of the EU Cohesion Policy on the ongoing process of EU integration of six Member States in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE), in terms of their expected fragmentation or interdependence. This main research objective is complemented by a secondary ambition of assessing whether this EU investment instrument will facilitate their digital transformation in the post-2020 programming period. Thus, this paper challenges the reader with a change of perspective from the traditionally scrutinized East-West divide to the potential internal divisions within CEE-6, a subgroup of the Friends of Cohesion. By means of a case study, the analysis unveils a disintegration tendency, given the different country-specific positions towards the EU values and their respective national interests, which are expected to complicate the Member States’ compliance with the revised regulatory framework of the Cohesion Policy. As for their digital transformation, the future Regional Policy appears to be a step forward in the right direction, due to a higher thematic concentration on innovation. The research study concludes with a series of three policy recommendations, in view of preventing the evolution of the remarked fragmentation trend.

ŒCONOMICA no. 1/2021
Keywords: Central and Eastern Europe, Cohesion Policy, innovation, interdependence, reform
JEL: F02, H61, O10
Reform of the EU Cohesion Policy in the Context of the New 2021-2027 Multiannual Financial Framework: A Study on the Post-2020 Prospects of Central and Eastern European Interdependence