- John Bachtler
- and Carlos Mendez
European Union cohesion policy accounts for a major share of the EU budget and aims to reduce economic, social, and territorial disparities through investment programmes and projects aligned with EU strategic objectives and implemented under a unique model of multi-level governance. This chapter reviews the evolution of cohesion policy over successive reform phases, how the policy is implemented, and the evidence for its effectiveness. It also discusses the different policy modes encompassed in the policy, and it reviews recent political developments relating to politicization, Brexit, the sectoralization of EU spending, and the implications of the Covid-19 pandemic. The chapter concludes that the resourcing, priorities, and governance of cohesion policy for 2021–27 represent a new turning point in the prospects for the policy, following the strategic turns of 2006 and 2013 (Bachtler et al. 2013). While the budget for cohesion policy remains substantial, the policy’s importance is diminishing as a result of greater centralization of political decision-making within the Commission, a fragmentation of the political constituencies for cohesion policy, and the dominance of non-spatial EU policy priorities with centralized delivery mechanisms.