"Our main challenge is to cement Cohesion Policy at the main EU investment instrument at the heart of the EU, whilst ensuring that it addresses new 'cohesion' challenges in all corners of Europe."
What makes Cohesion Policy unique and different?
The main promise of Cohesion Policy is that it is a solidarity instrument based on a partnership with regions and cities which touches all European citizens. It is also the only policy at EU level to support 'cohesion': social, economic and territorial cohesion of course, but also to inspire other EU policies so that they 'do no harm to cohesion'. Let's not forget that it is designed and implemented from the ground up, and is based principles of multilevel governance and partnership with regions and cities. It also supports cooperation across people and territories. These are aspects of Cohesion Policy which should absolutely be cherished in the future.
What risks do you foresee regarding the future of Cohesion Policy?
The European Union has been hit by a number of crisis and emergencies over the past three years which have created new challenges for cohesion in Europe. This calls for an 'update' of Cohesion Policy as we know it today. Cohesion Policy has always successfully evolved to support the evolution of the European Union priorities: at the outset, the Single Market, then the different waves of EU enlargement, and more recently the European Green Deal. Our main challenge is to cement Cohesion Policy as the main EU investment instrument at the heart of the EU, whilst ensuring that it addresses new 'cohesion' challenges in all corners of Europe. We also need to make sure that the impact of Cohesion Policy to local communities across all regions is as visible as possible: this is a key purpose of the new #CohesionAlliance.
What does the recently relaunched #CohesionAlliance aim to achieve?
The new #CohesionAlliance brings together those who strongly believe in the many merits of Cohesion Policy as the most visible EU investment instrument at local and regional level. Together with our partners from the Territorial Associations, Commissioner Elisa Ferreira and the REGI Chair Younous Omarjee, we launched a new momentum on 16 March in order to showcase the importance of Cohesion Policy from a local and regional authorities' perspective. I call on all representatives of cities and regions to join us in this important initiative for the Committee of the Regions, which already counts on 12 000 signatories. The best way to defend Cohesion Policy is to use it and to show how it makes a real difference on the ground.
What can you tell us about the upcoming CoR Opinion on the future of Cohesion Policy, for which you are co-rapporteur with Emil Boc, the Chair of the CoR COTER Commission?
We are starting our work with Emil Boc to build up the position of the European Committee of the Regions on the future of Cohesion Policy, which will be adopted on 29 November later this year. Listening to practitioners and engaging with cities and regions is a key element of this journey: this is why it is important to take part in the consultation we launched on 16 March which will feed in to our work. With the Opinion, we will look to reinforce the fundamental pillars of Cohesion Policy, whilst proposing evolutions to make Cohesion Policy more agile, closer to citizens and better equipped to reinforce cohesion in Europe. We will do our utmost to put new wind in the sails of a stronger Cohesion Policy.
In February 2023, the President of the European Committee of the Regions (CoR), Vasco Alves Cordeiro, and the Chair of the CoR Commission for Territorial Cohesion Policy and EU Budget (COTER), Emil Boc, have been appointed as co-rapporteurs of the opinion on the future of cohesion policy post-2027. Together with the work of the new #CohesionAlliance, the opinion will be a strategic milestone to design the common position of cities and regions on how to shape the future of the main investment policy of the EU.
The work on the opinion will be finalised by the two co-rapporteurs in November 2023, when is scheduled for adoption in the CoR Plenary, ahead of the publication of the 9th Cohesion Report by the European Commission.