During the structured dialogue with the European Committee of the Regions' commission for Territorial Cohesion Policy and EU Budget (COTER) and the main EU territorial associations, European Commissioners for Regional Policy, Corina Creţu, and for the EU Budget, Günter Oettinger, stressed that cohesion policy benefits all member states and insisted on its European added value also for the richest areas.
EU regions and cities are mobilised to make sure that European Commission's proposal for the EU budget after 2020, expected in May 2018, mirrors the urgent need to reduce disparities and transform the economic recovery in opportunities for all territories and citizens.
" The EU needs to be clear on what it wants to achieve with its next budget, focussing on the Treaty obligations and on those policy with a high European Added Value, as cohesion policy ", said the COTER chair Petr Osvald (CZ/PES), adding that: " Thanks to Cohesion policy's solidarity base mechanism and its inclusive delivery mode, we have an instrument which can address distinctive territorial development issues and implement the EU political priorities at the same time. This is a clear and unique European added value, this is why the CoR launched the #CohesionAlliance for a strong and modern cohesion policy ."
As stressed by Commissioners Creţu and Oettinger, tough decisions will be necessary, not only because of the UK leaving the Union, but above all because the EU is called to fulfil new tasks and missions, ranging from security and defence, to migration, social inequalities, territorial resilience and climate change. To make the EU budget consistent with these ambitions, both savings and increased own resources should allow for a higher EU budget, with an enhanced flexibility.
" The ongoing spending review will allow for eliminate overlapping and inefficiencies, freeing up resources for policies with a clear added value. increasing EU own resources will need also to be considered. But now, out of 100 Euros gained by a European citizen, approximately 50 go for taxes and levies to national governments, and only one out of these 50 is spent for the EU. We cannot expect our Union to deliver also on a range of new tasks spending for it less than the price of a cup of coffee every day ", said Commissioner Oettinger, adding that cohesion policy has had a clear added value and should be therefore preserved and improved.
" Even now that the EU economy as a whole is growing again and we have the lowest unemployment rate in 10 years, in many regions people are poorer than they were before the crisis and the gap between the richest and the poorest regions still grows. This shows that cohesion policy is needed now more than ever, to reduce disparities in all member states and in all European regions. In addition, cohesion policy is the only EU policy with a detailed performance framework which allows citizens to understand and control how funds are used. This is why I call for the post-2020 cohesion policy to be at least the same volume as it is for this current period ", said Commissioner Creţu.
The call for a stronger, simplified and more flexible cohesion policy was shared by attending territorial associations. Together with the CoR, they are preparing the launch of the #CohesionAlliance on 9 October, involving cohesion policy stakeholders and beneficiaries in a bottom-up mobilisation aimed at showing and preserving the key role of this indispensable policy for Europe's future.