Members of the European Parliament and European Committee of the Regions all stated that they will fight for adequate rules and funds to make cohesion policy 2021-2027 stronger. They urged Member States to have a clear ambition for more cohesion and a real budget for the EU.
The negotiations on the 2021-2027 EU budget and regulations for the European Structural and Investment (ESI) funds were discussed in a joint meeting of the European Parliament's Committee for Regional Development (REGI) and the European Committee of the Regions commission for Territorial Cohesion Policy and EU Budget (COTER), held in the framework of the European Week of Regions and Cities on 8 October in Brussels.
Over the last years, MEPs and local leaders have mobilised to defend a strong cohesion policy for 2021-2027 that continues to support citizens and businesses in all European regions, involving regional and local governments in investment decisions. Together they also defend simplified rules and an EU cohesion policy not subjected to conditionalities which are not directly related to its goals and beneficiaries.
REGI and COTER committees criticised the budgetary cuts demanded by some Member States and a possible weakening of the legislative framework on local actors' involvement, and recalled the position of both the European Parliament and the Committee of the Regions.
REGI and COTER members also shared their concerns and priorities with Regional Policy Commissioner Johannes Hahn, who is also the incoming Commissioner for EU Budget. The discussion highlighted the need to secure adequate funding to help all EU's regions and cities become greener, more inclusive and smarter, making an efficient use of ESI funds. As for the link between cohesion policy and structural reforms, the two committees members reminded had to be two-way, that the objectives of cohesion policy should not be diverted, and that it was also imperative to see the objective of cohesion tranversally applied in all EU policies as required by the Treaties. Reducing disparities and boosting the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals must become shared priorities and not undermined by a top-down, austerity-focused approach to reforms.
"Lacking ambition for cohesion policy means lacking ambition for Europe. Cutting the budget would be a hard blow to the European project. It means we are starting to give up while offering a victory to the europhobes. We will not allow this to happen." said REGI chair Younous Omarjee.
"Cohesion policy is the most important investment policy our cities and regions have at their disposal. The possibility of a delay of the next Multiannual Financial Framework, which would stop for one or two years this policy, would impact directly the fight against the climate crisis and would increase the growing social and territorial inequalities", said COTER chair Isabelle Boudineau (FR/PES).
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