The general Regulation on the Structural Funds specifies that the Commission and the Member States must ensure that the operations of the Funds are consistent with other common policies and operations [Regulation 1083/2006]. Indeed, several common policies favour by their nature the process of integration and cohesion. Thus, the common social policy has an important impact on labour law, health and security at work, free movement of workers and equal opportunities for men and women in the poor regions of the Union. European research programmes develop research capabilities in weaker Member States strengthening their scientific and technological base and accelerating innovation and economic development. The common agricultural policy has also a positive cohesion effect, with the cohesion countries receiving net transfers through it.
Since any economic activity is of necessity localised in one area, the majority of the Union's measures, be it in agriculture, industry, transport or research, have an impact at regional level. The common regional policy consequently attempts to ensure consistency between regional objectives and those of other common policies through the method of the European Spatial Development Perspective (ESDP) [Council Resolution]. The purpose of assessing European measures from a regional viewpoint is to correct any negative regional effects, which they may have, or to enhance any positive ones. A European framework for cooperation supports awareness-raising on sustainable urban development and urban environment, through development and transfer of good practices and cooperation between actors involved in sustainable development [Regulation 614/2007].
The possibilities for coordinating the objectives and means of enterprise policy with those of regional policy are utilised in the creation and management of Business and Innovation Centres (BICs) in towns and cities of the EU [see section 17.2.3]. The BICs are public or private professional structures which offer a multiservice assistance to innovative SMEs. Their integrated range of business services includes: basic assistance with management, technical approval, innovation, marketing strategy, raising of capital, development of business skills; SME access to venture capital; and provision of premises for SMEs. The BICs are linked in a European Business and Innovation Centre Network (EBN) which helps them with their management and promotes cooperation. Around two thirds of the Centres are cofinanced by the ERDF.
In the operations of the Structural Funds, particular attention is devoted to compliance with rules governing the protection of the environment, competition and public procurement. The role of the common regional policy in the process of multinational integration deserves to be emphasised by an adequate information policy. To this effect, the Commission encourages the Member States to improve the transparency of information for beneficiaries under the Structural Funds and to enhance public awareness of the role the Union plays in the development of their regions [Regulation 1828/2006].
A Commission communication promotes Structural Fund assistance in the cultural sphere in order to improve the contribution of culture to regional development, particularly through the media, the information society, historical heritage and regional identity [COM/96/512]. Another Commission communication seeks to facilitate the development of the information society in the poorest regions of the Union, through an integrated approach of telecommunications infrastructure, information technologies and training programmes for businessmen and public administrators [COM/97/7].