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Brexit extension must not impede agreement on future EU budget  

Regions and cities call for swift agreement on 2021-2027 EU budget and assurances against interruption in financing current investment plans

Reacting to the outcome of the special European Council on the UK's withdrawal from the EU, the European Committee of the Regions (CoR) – the EU's assembly of local and regional governments – reiterated the need for the member states to urgently adopt the EU long-term budget for 2021-2027 to ensure regions and cities are able to sufficiently prepare new plans and mitigate the impact of Brexit.

The call was made during a debate between the Committee's 350 European regional and local leaders and Jean Arthuis, Chair of the European Parliament's Committee on Budgets. Both EU political assemblies are deeply concerned by the financial impact of the decisions taken by Member States at the Special European Council.

The President of the European Committee of the Regions, Karl-Heinz Lambertz, remarked, " The decision to agree to an extension until 31 October this year at the latest gives the UK more time to overcome the internal impasse it faces. There will be no winners from Brexit, but we must use this time wisely to prepare for the future building bridges between local and regional governments in the UK and the EU27. Crucially, an extension should not impede the EU making progress on more pressing issues such as regional inequality, climate change, job creation and geopolitical challenges. We need to provide certainty to protect our economies and respond to these challenges which means urgently agreeing a sufficient future EU budget so regions and cities can plan investments for the future ".

The Committee and the European Parliament have been extremely vocal that the EU27 must increase their contributions to the EU budget from 1% to 1.3% of gross national income in order to face next decade's challenges. The Committee has been critical of any cuts to EU regional funds - cohesion policy – which it argues will support regions whose economies are most exposed to Brexit. With regards to ongoing investment plans, the Committee argues that financial commitments taken by the EU must to be respected until the last year available for payments in 2023, avoiding any reduction or shift to the new financial cycle.

Regions' and cities' concerns were fully shared by Mr Arthuis. While presenting the EP position, he replied to CoR members' questions stressing that: " The European Parliament is carefully assessing the Commission's proposals for the 'no-deal' contingency measures. If Brexit comes into force someday, it will not result in a punishment for neither the regions nor the cities in a Europe of 27 ."

The Committee assessed the potential impact of Brexit in a series of studies and political debates held over the past two years, including three open discussions with EU's Chief Negotiator Michel Barnier . Citizens' rights as well as the potential costs for ports, fishing industry, tourism, agriculture, research and education have emerged as key concerns of EU and UK local leaders. The Committee adopted two political resolutions, in March 2017 and May 2018 , and recently kicked off the work to identify the best tools for cross-border regional cooperation after Brexit .


Pierluigi Boda
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