How to better support regions and cities in innovating transport systems and deliver better mobility for all citizens was the main topic of the joint meeting of the European Committee of the Regions commission for Territorial Cohesion Policy (COTER) and the European Parliament's committee on Transport and Tourism (TRAN) held on 27 September.
After the discussion, the newly elected COTER chair, Mr. Petr Osvald (CZ/PES) highlighted that: " Thanks to EU funding, regions and cities are making transports smarter and greener. But the risk of widening the gap between 'hyperconnected' urban areas and isolated rural communities must be addressed by reinforcing all those policies and funding tools which are designed to reduce disparities and spread innovation also where the capacity of attracting public and private investment is weaker. For this reason, we are persuaded of the crucial value of EU's cohesion policy. It must be improved and strengthened, as it is the most powerful instrument in our hands to make sure that the transition to smarter and cleaner transport is not leaving anyone behind"
The vital role of regions and cities in the fight against climate change was emphasised by the TRAN president, Ms. Karima Delli (Greens/EFA, FR): " We have seen during the COP21 in Paris that local authorities are the fuel for innovative and greener mobility solutions, in particular when it comes to urban sustainable mobility. This is why the European Parliament, together with the COTER, must better share their views and speed up this "bottom-up" approach, to make the legislator benefit from the best local and regional experiments. At the meantime, Cohesion Funds must better suit local expectations and the TRAN Committee will do its best to tackle this challenge. "
During the discussion, local leaders stressed that the different funding opportunities offered by the EU in the field of transport should be better harmonised and made more accessible for cities, regions and disadvantaged areas. In this perspective, European Structural and Investment Funds must be simplified while the European Fund for Strategic Investment should be fine-tuned in order to provide more support for regional-scale infrastructure projects, attracting new investment also in the weakest areas.
"Looking ahead to the EU budget post 2020", concluded Mr Osvald, "we'll work together to make sure that EU investment will better support the inclusive and shared innovation of our transport systems, avoiding any undermining of or distraction of funds from crucial tools as EU cohesion policy and the Connecting Europe Facility. "
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