A shared call to preserve the current financial allocations, ensure that the different funds are well integrated and keep a clear regional focus
During the 16th European Week of Regions and Cities, European Parliament's Committee for Regional Development (REGI) jointly met with the European Committee of the Regions' Commission for Territorial Cohesion Policy and EU Budget (COTER) on 9 October to discuss how to safeguard and further improve Europe's biggest investment tool after 2020.
MEPs and regional leaders agree that the next generation of investment plans backed by EU cohesion policy must be adequately funded, well-coordinated, focussed on specific regional priorities and flexible enough to address challenges such as migration flows, demographic change, and natural disaster risks.
They oppose the 10% cut proposed by the European Commission for cohesion policy 2021-2027 and insist that the European Social Fund and the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development must be integrated into a common framework. Most speakers request that the funds should keep focussing on regions, so that even in the richest countries, regions lagging behind can rely on tailored investment plans.
Setting priorities for the future cohesion policy
Linking cohesion policy funding and member state's performances under Europe's economic governance (European Semester) should not distract from the policy key objective of reducing disparities on the ground, MEPs and COTER members outlined.
The recommendations were shared with Regional Policy Commissioner, Corinna Creţu, who participated in the debate.
REGI Chair Ms Iskra Mihaylova said: “I am convinced that we as policymakers have a great responsibility to address the challenges we are facing now and to shape a really modernised reformed cohesion policy post 2020. I am glad that simplification and flexibility are the keywords in the new proposal. With less complicated rules, flexibility between Union programmes and instruments, greater synergies and complementarities, I believe we can obtain quicker results and added value of policy investments.
"Relaunching the EU requires a stronger cohesion policy for all regions, as defended by the CoR together with the EU associations of regions and cities, MEPs and all partners of the #CohesionAlliance. The Committee and the European Parliament are made of elected politicians, we know well that the EU has to deliver new answers to citizens' needs and that cohesion policy can make a difference in this effort. This why we work together to make it better and stronger." said COTER Chair Mr Petr Osvald.
Both REGI and COTER will adopt their positions on the future cohesion policy in December, with the aim of promoting a timely conclusion of inter-institutional negotiations before the European elections.
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