Opinion Factsheet  

The role of the EU’s cohesion policy with respect to intelligent and innovative economic change in the regions against the backdrop of the corona

Opinion Number: CDR 3320/2020
Rapporteur: RIJSBERMAN Michiel
Commission: COTER
Status: Adopted
Date: 14/10/2020

– underlines that cohesion policy is the EU’s largest funding mechanism for investment in all regions with an increased emphasis on innovation as a driver of growth. Its implementation encourages more efficient spending of public funds through improved administrative and institutional capacity;

– strongly recommends that the temporary nature of some of the proposed reinforcements of cohesion policy as a reaction to the ongoing pandemic should not undermine cohesion policy as a system of shared management based on agreed principles. Flexibility is needed in times of crisis, but too much flexibility can threaten the existence of cohesion policy in the longer term;

– calls on the Commission to ensure that recent measures to increase flexibility and to further simplify cohesion policy at EU level do not lead to centralisation and gold-plating and an added administrative burden at national level, brought about by risk avoidance and a risk-regulation reflex by Member States;

– agrees with the Presidency that a competitive European industrial sector and vibrant small and medium-sized enterprises are essential for mastering the digital and environmental transformation;

– asks the Commission to consider the integration of regional smart specialisation strategies that contribute to a green, digital and resilient Europe as an enabling condition for effective (national) recovery investment plans;

– asks the Commission to further promote regional ecosystems and clusters in the framework of Interregional Innovation Investments. The combination of technological, industrial and social infrastructure in different regions according to their strengths and skills helps to generate critical mass and economies of scale and thus has the potential to increase the efficiency of research and innovation systems;

– proposes initiating an ongoing political dialogue between all levels of government on the synergies of the different COVID-19 measures with cohesion policy instruments as part of the Trio Programme of Germany, Portugal and Slovenia.