EU-wide coalition urges EU institutions and national governments to promote synergies between the recovery instruments and the structural funds to maximise the impact of European action.
The COVID-19 crisis has shown that cohesion policy is needed now more than ever to strengthen resilience in Europe, protect citizens, bring the recovery to every corner of the European Union and leave no one behind. Since its creation in October 2017, the #CohesionAlliance – an EU-wide alliance of 12,000 signatories advocating for a stronger cohesion policy – has managed to avoid dramatic budgetary cuts after 2020, keep a cohesion policy for all regions in the Union and put forward simpler and more flexible rules. During a videoconference dedicated to the new course of the #CohesionAlliance, its founding members renewed their commitment to join forces and keep cohesion policy as a EU top priority. The #CohesionAlliance will be vigilant that the partnership principle will be fully applied by Member States in the design and implementation of the cohesion policy 2021-27. Coherence and synergies between the recovery instruments and the structural funds are of paramount importance to avoid overlaps and maximise the impact of the European action.
Two months after the entry into force of the
new cohesion policy regulations
for the period 2021-27, the #CohesionAlliance took stock of the results of
its activity so far and outlined its future commitments, based on the
adopted in July 2020. The #CohesionAlliance's work will be focused on the
successful implementation and delivery of cohesion policy without further
delays in the spirit of genuine partnership and in synergy with other
instruments, thereby promoting the concept of cohesion as an overall and
fundamental value of the European Union.
Local and regional authorities highlighted
the urgent request
to extend the flexibility measures introduced last year to mobilise EU
structural funds and state aid in the fight against COVID-19. This issue
was also raised in an exchange of letters with president Ursula von der
Leyen, who acknowledged the budgetary constraints that many regional and
local authorities may be currently facing due to the pandemic. With regards
to the potential extension of a 100% co-financing rate for structural
funds, the Alliance's partners strongly appreciated the Commission's
commitment to closely monitor the situation closely and consider further
action if deemed appropriate.
The discussion showed that the #CohesionAlliance's mission is far from
over. The European recovery must start from citizens on the ground, and it
won't be successful if their voices and the ones of local and regional
politicians – who are closest to their needs – are not taken into account
by EU institutions and national governments.
, President of the
European Committee of the Regions
(CoR) and Governor of the Region of Central Macedonia (GR), said: "
The #CohesionAlliance's efforts contributed to avoid major budgetary
cuts after 2020 and promote cohesion as guiding principle for the EU's
recovery plans. Now, we need to turn our focus towards programming and
implementation. To do this, we need to carefully consider key aspects
like the application of the partnership principle in the new
programmes; the impact of Covid-19 related measures and the
consequences of their shutting down – a topic we addressed in a
fruitful, exchange of letters with President Von der Leyen; the rural
and urban dimensions of cohesion policy; and the synergies between
cohesion and the Recovery and Resiliency Facility
During her intervention, Commissioner for Cohesion Policy and Reforms Elisa Ferreira said: "
Cohesion has to remain a cornerstone of the Recovery. It is in the
aftermath of crises that asymmetries grow. The Cohesion Alliance is
more necessary than ever. The Partnership Agreements for Cohesion
2021-2027 will be instrumental. We have to speed up their negotiation,
but quality cannot be compromised. I count on your support to also
ensure that the implementation of our other policies and instruments is
not spatially blind and supports the long term development of all
regions. I've asked Member States to be mindful of the territorial
dimension in preparing their Recovery and Resilience Plans, both in
consulting and engaging with regional stakeholders as well as in the
implementation phase. We will only achieve our objectives by making
sure that our instruments work in the same direction. Promoting
Cohesion cannot be the responsibility of Cohesion policy alone. That is
why we must mobilise all the relevant actors, including local
stakeholders and citizens as full partners, making sure that the new
green and digital priorities work for all."
, chair of the European Parliament's Committee on Regional Development,
It is essential that the recovery funds go as a priority to the
least-developed regions and to the ones most affected by the economic
and social consequences of the Covid-19. I call on Member States to
involve regions and cities as much as possible and to ensure that these
funds go to the ground as close as possible to the needs. I also call
on Member States to be consistent. Short-term recovery and longer-term
cohesion policy are two sides of the same coin and must serve the same
purpose. If short-term recovery is not consistent with the longer-term
objectives set by cohesion funds, then the economic, social and
territorial disparities will only deepen and all our efforts for the
long term will be destroyed
VOICES FROM THE #COHESIONALLIANCE:
, spokesperson for territorial development of the
Council of European Municipalities and Regions
(CEMR) on Cohesion and Councillor for the Tuscany Region (IT), said: "
In the programming phase of EU cohesion funds, we could still see cases
where local and regional governments were not properly involved, either
due to insufficient time for consultation or inadequate contact at the
ministerial level. We must overcome the remaining barriers in the years
to come for the implementation and monitoring of the funds. The work of
the Cohesion Alliance is then far from over!
, President of the
Conference of Peripheral Maritime Regions
(CPMR) and Regional Minister of the Province Noord-Holland (NL), said: "
Unprecedented delays could materialise under future cohesion policy due
to late adoption of legislation. Regions will feel the brunt. They
prevented to start spending while regional economies are desperate for
investments to support the recovery. We urge the Commission to
smooth implementation of cohesion programmes and participation of regions in recovery plans, as synergies between
funds bring results closer
, President of the
Association of European Border Regions
(AEBR) and Member of the Parliament of the German-speaking Community in
Belgium, said: "
Cross-border cooperation is an essential element of the EU's cohesion
policy. What happens around the Union's internal borders has a major
impact on the Union's ability to respond to the major challenges of our
time. The EU’s capacity to act would be considerably strengthened if
the cross-border cooperation mechanism proposed by the Commission is
finally adopted by the Council.
, member of Eurocities and Deputy
Mayor of the City of Budapest (HU), said: "
The forthcoming investments through EU’s cohesion policy will be more
important than ever. It will be crucial to finance the projects and
reforms that can bring all Europe’s cities and regions on the path for
green and just recovery. As local leaders, we have a central role in
making sure this money is targeted where it is most needed and where it
benefits people the most. We can be invaluable partners to the EU when
the partnership principle is fully implemented in all parts of the EU.
Investing in Europe’s urban areas will support the longer-term
resilience of Europe and help all of us stand stronger in the face of
, Chair of the
Conference of European Regional Legislative Assemblies
(CALRE) Working Group 'European legislation and public investments' and
President of the Parliament of Wallonia (BE), said: "
Cities and regions must have the ambition to strengthen the cohesion of
their territories, to reduce disparities and inequalities while raising
economic, social and environmental standards in compliance with the
democratic values and principles that are the founders of a prosperous
and sustainable European Union
, President of the Assembly of European Regions
(AER) and Vice President of the Region Västra Götaland (SE), declared in
the margins of the conference: "
The new Cohesion Policy can be truly transformative for rural
communities across Europe. The AER is fully committed to working
together with national governments and the European Commission to
deliver a Cohesion Policy that builds back better for rural regions;
ensuring that they are better connected, more resilient, vibrant and
prosperous by 2040
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