Two weeks ahead of a crucial European Summit, the European Committee of the Regions – EU's assembly of regional and local authorities - calls on Member States for a timely and fair agreement on the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) and the Next Generation EU Plan. In a resolution and a debate with EU's Commissioner in charge for Budget and Administration, Johannes Hahn, regions and cities demanded that cohesion becomes the compass a for all EU policies and that the implementation of EU programmes is based on shared responsibilities and partnership.
The President of the European Committee of the Regions, Apostolos Tzitzikostas, said: "The Commission's proposals for the recovery plans and the budget 2021-2027 incorporate our Committee's key demands and show the impact of our tireless work to make the voice of locally elected representatives heard in Brussels. They provide a clear response to populists and Eurosceptic, demonstrating the added-value of the EU in these difficult times. We must ensure that the recovery plan is implemented efficiently and avoid the risks of a centralised process. Subsidiarity and partnership principle are key and local and regional governments, as part of the Member States legally competent authorities, must be fully involved to steer investments where they are needed the most. The ball is now in the court of the National Governments in Member States and of the European Parliament that must act quickly. Discussions are legitimate but we must avoid delays that risk hampering our efforts to timely answers to the needs of our citizens."
"The long-term budget and Next Generation EU are the European way to respond to the crisis and take up the path towards recovery. We can only succeed if we stand together – Member States of all sizes and from all parts of Europe; regions and cities; authorities, universities and business. The support of the Committee of the Regions for an agreement in July is very important. We need a quick agreement in the name of a speedy recovery", said Johannes Hahn, Commissioner in charge of Budget and Administration.
The CoR reiterates that both the MFF and the Recovery Plan must focus on cohesion as a fundamental value and on a strong EU long-term investment policy that helps to create a more resilient, greener and future-oriented Union. The CoR welcomes the additional support for cohesion policy (55 bn EUR), rural development (15 bn EUR) and the Just Transition Fund (30 bn EUR), the reinforced Horizon (12,5 bn EUR) and Connecting Europe Facility (1,5 bn EUR) as well as the stand-alone Health Programme worth 9,37 bn EUR.
"There is a renewed interest in cohesion policy which is good. Concerning the ReactEU programme, the cohesion policy should not be a surrogate mother for this programme but remain the matrix upon this necessary answer will be built. Timing is also of the utmost importance. Following the July EU Council and national procedures, the next MFF should be fully operational by January 1st 2021", said Vasco Alves Cordeiro (PT/PES), First Vice-President of the European Committee of the Regions.
"The future multiannual financial framework and the recovery plan demonstrate that the European Commission has taken the measure of the crisis we are going through, but our regions and cities need - as of today - long-term recovery programmes and investments. Any further procrastination would be a tragedy for our fellow citizens, our businesses and our public services. We would then risk the disintegration of the internal market and all countries, even the frugal ones, would be affected. The recovery plan could also be an opportunity to implement the ecological and digital transitions around the Green Deal, if based on the know-how of regions and cities", added Isabelle Boudineau (FR/PES), Vice-President of the Nouvelle-Aquitaine Region and President of the CoR COTER Commission.
Implementing the new budget and recovery plan will represent a challenge, in terms of strategic planning, coordination and administrative capacity. The European Committee of the Regions demands to avoid any centralisation and make sure that regions and cities can help steering investments were they are needed the most. The Committee stands ready to contribute to improving the European Semester, which will play an important role in the strategic coordination of the Recovery Plan. A new partnership between EU, national, regional and local actors will help to reduce the current distance between economic policies coordination and the real needs of citizens and businesses, boosting the implementation and uptake of European programmes in cities and regions.
Resolution on the "Revised Multiannual Financial Framework and European Sustainable Investment Plan"
CoR opinion on the "Just Transition Fund"
You can rewatch the debate here
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