Evaluating EU Cohesion Policy Using Satellite Data

In December 2020, the Council of the European Union adopted the EU's long-term budget for the years 2021 to 2027. With a share of 31 percent of the total budget (around 330 billion €), cohesion policy remains an important priority area. Given the large amount of resources dedicated to reduce economic and social disparities between European regions, it is essential to learn about the impact of different funding instruments in previous budgetary periods. In this project, we illustrate a novel approach of evaluating the economic effects of the European Regional Development Fund and the Cohesion Fund since 2007. For a selected pilot region in the border area of the Czech Republic, Germany and Poland we collect data on EU funding at the municipality level. Using night light emission data as a proxy for economic development, we show that the receipt of a higher amount of EU funding is associated with higher growth in these areas. The results of this project suggest that remote sensing data can be used effectively to capture the small-scale impact of place-based policies on economic development, even in a pan-European context.