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EU budget 2021-2027: regions and cities sound alarm as cuts and centralisation threaten Europe's future  

The European Commission's proposal for the new Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) – which sets out the annual expenditure ceilings for all EU policies for 2021-2027 – responds to Europe's regions and cities call for stronger investment in education, research, youth and migration, but fails to address the increasing need to reduce disparities across the Union, according to the European Committee of the Regions' President.

EU budget increase: modest at a time when Europe needs to be bold

Commenting on the MFF proposal unveiled by the European Commission on 2 May, the CoR's President Karl-Heinz Lambertz said: " Increasing the EU budget goes into the right direction but not far enough. Now more than ever, we need an EU of political ambition with the means to deliver: an increase to 1.11% of GNI is modest at a time when Europe needs to be bold. New sources of revenue for the EU, such as the EU Emissions Trading Scheme and harmonisation of member states taxation on enterprises could allow more funds to be directed to the EU budget supporting citizens, protecting the environment and discouraging unfair fiscal competition among member states ".

Old and new challenges: strong partnership with local and regional authorities for a stronger future of Europe

The CoR President welcomed the Commission's efforts in investing more in youth, education, research and migration: "These are policies where regional and local authorities often play a leading role and which require a strong partnership with local and regional authorities ".

10% cohesion cut: downsized, fragmented and centralised

The future of EU's cohesion policy is particularly worrying: " Cohesion policy risks being fragmented and centralised. The proposal to cut by 10% or even more cohesion funding downsizes the only EU policy that brings true European added-value to regions and cities. Excluding regional and local communities from having a direct say on EU investment plan and decisions, coupled with separating tools and cuts to regional policy, risks seriously undermining the cohesion of Europe over the next decade", President Lambertz said .

Make CAP greener, not weaker

As for the Common Agricultural Policy, President Lambertz underlined that: "Based on our initial assessment, the rural development pillar might be cut by nearly 15%. This would not allow European regions to deliver on innovation, inclusion, and environmental protection over the next decade in rural areas ".

EMU: Convergence needs more investment and a greater say for regions

The CoR also backs the European Commission's commitment to increase convergence of the economic and social standards in the Eurozone to support citizens during times of crisis thanks to a stabilisation tool. The EU's assembly of local and regional authorities says this should be done with new resources and a greater involvement of regions and cities. With specific regards to the proposed Structural Reform Programme, diverting funding from cohesion policy to implement a heavily centralised programme does not contribute to convergence in the Euro area, and raises questions of compliance with the principle of subsidiarity.

Looking ahead, President Lambertz added: " The Commission proposal is not take or leave it. The CoR will cooperate with the European Parliament and Council to improve the proposals and ensure that, thanks to increased resources and to a greater attention to the reality of our cities and regions, the new EU budget delivers the promises of a more cohesive and innovative Union ".

The Committee recently appointed its rapporteur on the MFF, Nikola Dobroslavic (HR/EPP), Prefect of Dubrovnik-Neretva County, who said "Nearly two thirds of the EU budget impacts regional and local authorities. As a CoR rapporteur, I will assess the positive or negative impact of this budget proposal. The success of the EU's new priorities also depends on the ability of regions and cities to invest where it matters most and in the spirit of EU added value ."

The European Committee of the Regions will hold a debate with the EU's Budget Commissioner, Gunther Oettinger, during its 16 May plenary session.

Note for editors


To make the case for a stronger cohesion policy after 2020, the CoR, together with leading EU territorial associations, has launched the #CohesionAlliance: a grass-roots movement open to anyone who believes that EU cohesion policy must continue to act as a pillar of the EU's future. Since its launch in October last year, the Alliance has continued to attract new signatories every day, including regional and local authorities, business associations, academia, trade unions and think tanks.

More information about the #CohesionAlliance initiatives, statements and position papers are available at

CoR May plenary agenda


Pierluigi Boda

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