Under the 2021-2027 MFF, the EU Cohesion Policy will be more strictly linked to the European Semester. As of 2019, the Country Reports give guidelines for the preparation of cohesion policy's operational programmes, and the CSRs cover investments funded by the ESI Funds. The CoR's opinion stressed the risk that the room for manoeuvre of a decentralised policy process based on partnership and multilevel governance (cohesion policy) be restricted by another policy process which is totally top-down and based on a bilateral dialogue between the Commission and the national governments. This would jeopardize regions' and cities' flexibility margins to set policies tailored to their specific needs. The opinion called for the European Semester to be also based on the same principles of partnership and multilevel governance, to ensure consistence and synergies between the two processes.
The Romanian Presidency invited the Rapporteur to speak in the High-Level Conference on "The coordination of economic policies at EU level, a renewed role for the European Semester", held in Bucharest on 4 April 2019.
The Chair of the CoR ECON Commission took part in the hearing on the links between Cohesion Policy and the European Semester held in Brussels by the European Economic and Social Committee on 12 June 2019.
THE EUROPEAN COMMITTEE OF THE REGIONS
- calls for a new strategic framework following the Europe 2020 strategy; welcomes the European Commission’s Reflection Paper on "Towards a Sustainable Europe by 2030";
- welcomes the fact that the Annual Growth Survey (AGS) 2019 addresses the regional dimension of European investment policy, but notes that it does so to only a limited extent;
- notes that for the next programming period the Commission envisages more binding coordination between the country-specific recommendations and the cohesion programmes;
- notes that there is still no mechanism at EU level for involving local and regional authorities in a structured way in the development of NRPs and investment strategies. A European Code of Conduct on Partnership has, however, been established under which local and regional authorities are direct partners of the Commission and the Member States in the shared management of cohesion policy;
- notes that this is contrary to the principles of subsidiarity, multi-level governance and partnership;
- stresses that the best way of avoiding infringements of the subsidiarity principle is to get local and regional authorities fully involved in the European semester in a structured way, in line with the principles of partnership and multilevel governance;
- reiterates its position in favour of establishing a Code of Conduct for the involvement of local and regional authorities in the European semester;
- stresses that it is a matter of some urgency to ensure that local and regional authorities have a formal position in the policy process within the European semester. This problem could potentially be addressed by expanding the current Code of Conduct on Partnership to include the European semester policy process.