Ona Gražina Rakauskienė Viktor Kozlovskij


The European Union’s increasing international activity and significant role in the world economy attaches the growing importance to the processes taking place in the economic life of the new Europe in the context overcoming the consequences of economic crisis. A variety of questions arise in the process, such as why is it that some EU economies overcome the crisis more successful on their development, whereas other economies are in stagnation, with a near zero or negative growth rates? What changes, both positive and negative, have taken place in the economies of old and new EU Member States? Is the enlargement of the EU economically justified? Is the development of the EU heading in the right direction? Were mistakes made in adopting the decision for the EU enlargement?This process carries both new threats and opportunities for development. Whether the situation will be favourable for the sustainable and effective development of the EU economy depends on the implementation of the EU’s cohesion policy and the response to the new challenges of the pursued cohesion policy in the future.Social and economic cohesion is an expression of solidarity among the Member States and regions of the EU territorial level. The aim is to achieve balanced development throughout the EU by reducing structural disparities among countries and regions and promoting equal opportunities for all. Cohesion policy has a major impact on the economies of the Member States, reducing economical differences and promoting environmental and social development. It has also played a crucial role with European Structural funds helping to cushion the impact of the crisis on the economies of the EU Member States, their citizens and businesses.The EU Member States are characterized by the large disparity in the development level – it can be said that the EU is a multi-speed Europe: the EU old members’ and the EU new members’ social and economic development varies significantly. Moreover, EU countries (including the two groups inside) show convergence and divergence processes of economic and social cohesion at the same time.The purpose of this article is to raise the role of the economic and social cohesion to the EU Member States economies, highlighting the EU’s cohesion policy trends and characteristics.