In a letter to President Charles Michel, the EU-wide coalition warns against 12% cuts to cohesion policy proposed
by Finnish EU Presidency
2021-2027, the #CohesionAlliance – an EU-wide alliance calling for a stronger cohesion policy after 2020 – has demanded budgetary allocations aimed at delivering a greener, more inclusive and smarter Europe be preserved. The Alliance also warned against any centralisation, which would weaken the role of regional and local governments in managing funds.
Cohesion policy is the EU's main investment tool and plays a key role in addressing emerging challenges such as decarbonisation, climate adaptation, digitalisation and integration of migrants by promoting the strong involvement of local actors. In a paper prepared by the Finnish Presidency of the Council of the EU, cohesion allocation would be cut by €44.6 billion in comparison with the current period (excluding the United Kingdom). This means a reduction of 12%.
For this reason, the #CohesionAlliance partner organisations wrote to the President of the European Council – Charles Michel – stressing that, 'cuts would entail major political risks, calling into question the capacity of the EU to fulfil the Treaty objective of strengthening economic, social and territorial cohesion, due to a lack of critical mass of support in many regions, meaning also lower investments in key European objectives'. The letter insists therefore on, 'the necessity for cohesion policy to have sufficient funding of at least one-third of the future EU budget at its disposal, and for any new instruments such as the Just Transition Fund and its budgetary allocations to be additional to the existing European Structural and Investment Funds'.
The Alliance is also deeply worried by the ongoing attempt – in the framework of the negotiations between European Parliament, Commission and Council – to undermine the involvement of regional and local governments in funds management. In the letter, the coalition partners demand, instead, 'the full involvement of local and regional authorities in the programming and implementation phase of cohesion policy'. All Member States, they argue, must continue to be obliged to develop Partnership Agreements setting the distribution of tasks and responsibilities in the management of investment plans backed by cohesion policy.
Finally, the Alliance highlights the risks connected to a late agreement on the new long term EU budget and call on the European Council, 'swiftly to conclude the negotiations on the new MFF and accompanying sectorial regulations for 2021-2027, in order to allow the Partnership Agreements and programmes to be set up in due time, allow a smooth transition to the upcoming funding period and avoid the disastrous consequences for both managing authorities and beneficiaries'.
The #CohesionAlliance - gathering together all those who want a strong cohesion policy based on the contribution of local actors - was launched in 2018 by the European Committee of the Regions (CoR), in partnership with the Association of European Border Regions (AEBR), the Assembly of European Regions (AER), the Conference of European Regional Legislative Assemblies (CALRE), the Council of European Municipalities and Regions (CEMR), the Conference of Peripheral Maritime Regions of Europe (CPMR) and EUROCITIES.
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