During a debate with the Bulgarian Deputy Prime Minister, Tomislav Donchev, local and regional leaders called on EU member states to increase their contributions into the EU purse to overcome the main challenges facing the block. Jobs, growth, migrant integration, sustainable economic and rural development are all priorities for local and regional governments who demanded that Brexit should not undermine funding of the main pillars of the European Union – namely EU cohesion and agricultural policy. The European Committee of the Regions (CoR) therefore called for the next Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) - which sets out the annual expenditure ceilings for all EU policies after 2020 – to be broader and better designed.
Ahead of the draft MFF proposals expected to be published by the European Commission on 29 May, local and regional leaders asked Member States to increase their financial contributions and support the introduction of new revenues sources in order to raise the overall available funding from 1.04% to 1.3% of the EU 27 Gross National Income. In this way the new budget can absorb the financial shortfall caused by Brexit and resolve emerging challenges such as migration, border control and defence. This was the main message of an opinion led by the Marshal of the Wielkopolska Region, Marek Woźniak (PL/EPP), and adopted by the Committee on 1 February.
The CoR's President, Karl-Heinz Lambertz, said, " The next EU budget will define the kind of future of Europe we want. If we want a job-rich, fairer, socially inclusive and greener Europe, we must continue to invest in every region, every community and every citizen. We do need to fund new priorities such as security and defence, but they must be financed with new resources and not at the expense of regional and rural development ".
A call shared by Deputy Prime Minister Donchev: “ Under the Bulgarian Presidency of the Council, Bulgaria's main priority is to be a balanced discussion moderator on the concept of European solidarity and the need of simplification of the rules. But at the same time to be a generator of ideas, leading to the creation of a strong and effective Cohesion Policy and hence powerful and prosperous regions! ”, he said.
The Union must reform its funding system, the EU's political assembly of local and regional governments said, to also allow a more ambitious, flexible and transparent budget. All rebates should be abolished and new sources of financial revenues be identified – such as a European Corporate Income Tax, Financial Transaction Tax and a reformed VAT system - to reduce uncertain negotiations among member states.
" The future EU budget must have greater financial resources to support common goals and policies. EU cohesion policy should be closely integrated in the implementation of the strategic development vision of EU post 2020 " Marek Woźniak, the CoR's rapporteur, remarked.
In the opinion, the Committee reiterates its demand that the current percentage of the EU budget is maintained for cohesion policy after 2020, a key position of the #CohesionAlliance , an EU-wide coalition launched last October.
Note for editors
To make the case for a strong cohesion policy after 2020, the CoR, together with leading EU territorial associations, launched the #CohesionAlliance : a grass-roots movement open to anyone who believes that EU cohesion policy must continue to be a pillar of the EU's future. Since its launch in October last year, the Alliance has continued to attract new signatories every day, including regional and local authorities, Members of the European Parliament, national governments' representatives, business associations, academia, trade unions and think tanks. The partners of the alliance commit to contribute to the mobilisation by organising local events, communication and sensibilisation campaigns in their countries, regions and local communities.
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