EU MONITOR: Has the time come for a Czech Regional Policy?

Over the past 5 years, the Czech Republic has experienced unprecedented GDP growth, moving the country from 83% of EU average GDP in 2013 to 91% of the EU average GDP in 2019. At the same time, the Czech wage increased by more than 7% in 2013 in the last three years. This phenomenon is addressed by our Vít Havelka in the latest issue of the EU Monitor.

The following decade will likely be determining for the future success of the Czech Republic. The global economy and its supply chains are undergoing a significant shift; Asian states are slowly becoming innovative leaders rather than being a cheap labour pool. Furthermore, the Czech Republic is heavily dependent on the automotive industry3, which is under pressure not only by stricter emission regulation, but also disruptive market change such as autonomous systems, digitalization and electrification. It is likely that old market strategies will prove obsolete as it happened in case of cell phones.

Along with the changing global economy, the Czech Republic is nearing to a point where it will not be fully able to rely on the EU Cohesion Policy anymore. The country has reached the threshold of 90% EU ́s average GDP, and if the current economic development remains the same, the Czech Republic will not have access to Cohesion Funds after the coming MFF, and it will receive significantly less money from the EU budget. The problem is that regional disparities within the Czech Republic remain high, especially between the capital city Prague and the rest of the country. Simultaneously, since the EU accession in 2004, the Czech Republic relied mainly on the EU Cohesion Policy in terms of providing funding for regions, supplementing the EU ́s activity only with minor national contributions. As a result, the country does not have a well-developed culture of regional policy that would be nationally funded, and there is not even a discussion in the media about national solidarity with disadvantaged regions.

The following paper aims at discussing a possible way forward for the Czech Republic, especially in the context of expected changes in global economy and simultaneous decrease of EU Funding that could help mitigate the impact of economic disruptions. The focus will be laid on possible If the whole automotive left the Czech Republic, Deloitte estimates that the Czech GDP would decrease by 25% and 1,4 million Czechs would lose their reaction to lower income from the EU, as it is presumed that a solid regional policy is crucial in maintaining internal cohesion and contributes to mitigation of economic turbulences.

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#EU #Czech Republic #HDP

Vít Havelka
Research Fellow

Expertise: EU institutional relations with member states, europeisation, transformation role of EU

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