"If we want citizens to trust Europe, we need to reinforce job creation, social inclusion, sustainable transport and housing, education and training", said the Minister-President of Wallonia, Willy Borsus, and European Committee of the Regions' President Karl-Heinz Lambertz
On 29 January the Belgian Region of Wallonia joined the #Cohesion Alliance , an EU-wide coalition that demands that one-third of the entire EU budget continues to be committed to supporting inclusive growth in all European regions and cities after 2020. Minister-President, Willy Borsus, signed the Alliance's declaration in the presence of the European Committee of the Regions' President and Senator of the German-speaking Community, Karl-Heinz Lambertz. The two leaders discussed joint activities to advocate for a strong EU cohesion policy after 2020 which is at risk of being cut as the next EU budget negotiations get underway.
On behalf of the Belgian Region of Wallonia, Minister-President Borsus signed the #CohesionAlliance, an initiative promoted by the European Committee of the Regions and the main European associations of regions and cities. The Alliance was launched last October, ahead of the next EU budget negotiations, so that EU's local and regional governments join forces to preserve the resources allocated to EU investment in regions.
President Lambertz said, " I am delighted Wallonia has joined the Cohesion Alliance, which gives further proof that across Europe cohesion policy matters and is recognised as a key element of European solidarity. The EU must continue to prioritise tackling regional disparities, support social integration, encourage cooperation across borders and foster sustainable development in every region and city. Investing in EU cohesion policy is an investment in every citizen and every community" .
Minister-President Borsus said: " Wallonia has chosen to join the Cohesion Alliance launched by the European Committee of the Regions and its President, Karl-Heinz Lambertz. It is indeed important for our Region that the EU cohesion policy of the European Union remains one of the pillars of the future Europe. EU cohesion policy brings real added value in terms of job creation, sustainability, infrastructure and cooperation ."
Under the EU budget covering 2014-2020, and thanks to EU cohesion policy Belgium benefits from more than €2.7bn funding which, together with national and regional funds, will deliver €6bn for new jobs, modern infrastructure, social inclusion, innovation etc. The Region of Wallonia is currently investing around €3bn, with EU cohesion policy funding accounting for more than €1.3bn of this sum.
EU structural funds – the funding tool of EU cohesion policy – could be totally cut after 2020 for Belgium, France, Nederland, Germany and many others if it is decided that cohesion policy is made only available for the weakest regions or member states of the Union. A reduction in the next EU budget is expected due to Brexit as well as the need to invest EU funds on emerging priorities such as external border control and defence.
The European Commission – the EU's executive - will present its proposals outlining which areas should be financed by the next EU budget on 29 May, with negotiations expected to last until summer 2019.
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