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Cohesion Alliance News – May 2019  

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Dear Supporter,

Good news: On 9 May EU national leaders gathered in Sibiu, Romania, on 9 May and committed to " further reduce disparities between us" and to "always help the most vulnerable in Europe, putting people before politics ". As #CohesionAlliance supporters, we need to continue to make the case that to achieve this goal, we need a strong cohesion policy after 2020.

European Parliament concludes work and backs #CohesionAlliance key demands

With the vote on the European Social Fund Plus (ESF+) on 4 April, the European Parliament finalised its position on the future of cohesion policy. The vote complements the positions on the European Fund for Regional Development (ERDF) and the Cohesion Fund, on the Common Provisions Regulation , and on the specific provisions for European Territorial Cooperation (ETC) adopted on 26 and 27 March.

As #CohesionAlliance welcome the outcome of the Parliament's votes and call on the EU Member States to speed up negotiations to ensure the new investment plans are launched on time.

Don't cut cohesion funds

We urged EU institutions and Member States to continue to commit one-third of the future EU budget to cohesion policy with a financial envelope of at least one-third of the future EU budget, a position shared by the European Parliament . Together, we must continue to fight against the 10% cut initially proposed by the European Commission. This involved sharp reductions for the Cohesion Fund, ETC and ESF+, for which new tasks were introduced without additional resources.

With regards to ETC, alongside ensuring an adequate budget, the EP called for intensifying cross-border cooperation, including in maritime basins, and interregional cooperation (including the new instrument to foster interregional investments in the field of innovation).

No to centralisation

The European Parliament backs our demands to avoid centralisation or top-down reform. New rules must preserve and strengthen the partnership principle ensuring regional and local actors are involved in designing and implementing investment plans – and the place-based approach, where policy challenges are identified at regional and local level and the policy impact is assessed in the light of consistent indicators.

European Parliament rejects ERDF national thresholds

The Parliament rejected the proposal to set national – instead of regional – thresholds to concentrate ERDF funds on strategic objectives. MEPs want instead to reinforce the local dimension of the fund by investing at least 10% of national allocations on urban areas and at least 5% on integrated territorial development in disadvantaged non-urban areas.

European Social Funds must continue to be at the heart of cohesion policy

The European Parliament reaffirmed the key role of the European Social Fund Plus within cohesion policy and its contribution to achieving economic, social and territorial cohesion after the Commission revised the fund's role with a strong connection to the c​oordination of Member States' macroeconomic policies under the European Semester.

Cohesion policy as regions' main investment tool

Our call for cohesion policy to be a long-term investment tool for all regions was shared by both the European Commission and the European Parliament, whose proposals also provide a certain flexibility in reprogramming resources in the event of unforeseen crises and natural disasters.

Yes to simplification, no to macroeconomic conditionality

There is broad convergence with the European Parliament on the need to better coordinate cohesion policy with other EU policies, on simplification and the opposition to conditionalities that cannot be influenced by local and regional authorities or other beneficiaries. The European Parliament's position against freezing European Structural funds as a sanction for the infringement of EU fiscal discipline represents an important development and a radical change compared with the past years.

Next Steps

Council set to adopt position on cohesion policy

The Council of the European Union is expected to finalise its position on the legislative proposals for cohesion policy during the 25 June General Affairs Council (GAC) meeting.

The #CohesionAlliance must reiterate its call on Member States to ensure Europe's citizens can still rely on a powerful cohesion policy, reducing disparities and delivering more opportunities to all local communities.

The work to adopt the new regulations will continue under the new European Parliament and Commission since, after adopting their individual positions on all dossiers, the European Parliament and Council will need to find a final agreement. In this perspective, on 10 July a #CohesionAlliance event will gather in Brussels, at the European Committee of the Regions, newly elected MEPs and cohesion policy stakeholders to discuss pending issues and the timeline of the final work to shape the cohesion policy 2021-2027.

Delays to future EU budget will

An agreement by autumn 2019 on the EU Budget 2021-2027 - the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) - seems to be increasingly unlikely and there is a stronger risk of a late agreement – and a consequent investment gap for regions and cities. For this reason, it is crucial to mobilise in each Member State and demand national governments to proactively seek to create a wide consensus on a balanced and timely compromise, securing adequate funding for cohesion policy.

All partners are encouraged to echo these concerns and priorities within the debate for the next European Elections, to make the voice of a bottom-up, inclusive and sustainable Europe heard!

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Six ways to take action!

1. Send us a video statement of max 1 minute explaining why we need a strong EU cohesion policy, what it means for your community and what you expect for the future. Videos can be sent to CohesionAlliance@cor.europa.eu

2. Share your projects: Tweet or publish on Facebook or Instagram a picture from a project supported by EU cohesion funds showing the impact. Don’t forget to use the hashtag #CohesionAlliance.

3. Hold an event in your community: contact us if you need support to organise an event on EU cohesion policy, if you need materials in your language, speakers etc.

4. Join the Petition: help us promote the online petition . It takes seconds to join and every signature counts

5. Let people know: we are developing material for partners which are being made available in this space (under "Materials for Partners"). Meanwhile:

· #CohesionAlliance web banner can be downloaded here

· #CohesionAlliance statement of principles is available in all languages on the alliance website homepage (you have just to select the relevant language on top right).

6. Share your view: many partners have already shared their positions on cohesion policy. Get in touch, share your ideas.

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Cohesion Policy: news and events

4 June: Better communicating cohesion policy - Stakeholder consultation , European Committee of the Regions

5-6 June: AER General Assembly & Spring Bureau Meeting 5 & 6 June in Larnaca, Cyprus

6 June: Launch of AER project 'Together for Cohesion: Let's rEUnite' and subsequent Knowledge Sharing Workshop, Larnaca, Cyprus​

11-12 June: CEMR Policy Committee, in Mamaia (Romania)

13 June: Meeting of the CPMR Political Bureau , in Donegal (Ireland)

13 and 14 June: Informal ministerial meeting on the Urban Agenda in Bucharest (Romania)

20 June : European Council on MFF and Strategic agenda

25 June : General Affairs Council on cohesion.

10 July: Adoption of the opinions on "Recommendations for the successful design of regional development strategies beyond 2020" and on "Better communication for Cohesion Policy" at the Meeting of the CoR commission for Territorial Cohesion Policy ( agenda )

10 July: Gathering of the CohesionAlliance partners at the European Committee of the Regions in Brussels, more info coming soon

7-12 October: European Week of Regions and Cities

16/18 October: 47th CPMR General Assembly, 2019 in Palermo (Sicilia, Italy)

23-26 October : AEBR General Assembly, Annual Conference and CB School in Dresden (Euregio Elbe-Labe, DE/CZ)

6 to 8 May 2020: CEMR congress on SDGs, in Innsbruck (Austria)

Campaign tools, actions and materials

CEMR video for the European elections

CEMR video : Discover EU cohesion policy in your region

CEMR video : local dialogues on cohesion policy

CoR video : EU is Cohesion: make it in Wallonia

CoR video : EU is Cohesion: Metro line 3 in Sofia

CoR video : EU is Cohesion: Molenbeek has things to say