During a debate at the European Committee of the Regions in Brussels, local and regional politicians and EU Budget Commissioner, Gunther Oettinger, called for an agreement on new Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) – which sets out the annual expenditure ceilings for all EU policies for 2021-2027 – before the next European 2019 elections to ensure the continuity of EU support for citizens and businesses.
EU local and regional leaders support the European Commission's efforts to increase investment in education, research, youth and migration as well as the proposed measures to make the EU budget less dependent on member states' financial contributions. At the same time, region and city representatives stress that the proposed 10% cut to cohesion policy will undermine their capacity to tackle disparities and spread innovation across the Union's local communities.
Alongside the availability of adequate funding, EU local and regional leaders highlighted the need to properly define the role of regions and cities in delivering of the next generation of all EU policies, in order to improve synergies and the impacts of these policies. In this perspective, a crucial step will be the European Commission proposals for the new EU funds regulations, expected to be published at the end of May and the beginning of June.
President of the European Committee of the Regions, Karl-Heinz Lambertz, remarked, " The draft EU budget sets out the right priorities though what we really need is a larger EU budget for a more ambitious EU future which is why our Committee calls for an increase to 1.3% of GNI of the EU27. Europe clearly needs to overcome new challenges - such as migration and defence – but this should not be at the expense of EU cohesion policy. Crucially, the question now will be to see how the funds will be managed and to ensure a timely agreement is reached to ensure local and regional authorities can plan for the future. "
Commissioner Oettinger took note of regions' concerns and invited local leaders to mobilise with their national governments in order to ensure support for an adequate EU budget. He also invited CoR members to look at the Commission's proposal with the due attention to new programmes: " The cohesion funds are important but there are not the only ones. There is research, which is carried out in the regions as well, border protection for example, migration as well. When we double Erasmus +, this is about your children, not the Commission’s children! So, when you do your calculations don’t just count structural funds, you have to look at other programmes which are also of interest and important in your daily activity."
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 http://cohesionalliance.eu
CoR May plenary agenda
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