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EU fiscal rules must address need for public investment in cohesion and sustainability  

​The EU economic governance review must tackle the lack of involvement of cities and regions

Declarations of the President of the European Committee of the Regions (CoR), Vasco Alves Cordeiro, and the CoR rapporteur on the European economic governance review, Elio Di Rupo, on the proposal for a reformed EU economic governance framework put forward today by the European Commission.

The President of the CoR and Member of the Parliament of the Autonomous Region of the Azores, Vasco Alves Cordeiro , stated: " The European Committee of the Regions expects today's European Commission's proposal to lead to a genuine change of direction regarding the EU economic governance framework: there has never been a stronger need for public investment in cohesion and sustainability. In the troubled times we live in, it is more essential than ever to exclude EU Structural and Investment Funds co-financing from EU fiscal rules. We also expect the review of EU economic governance to address the lack of involvement of local and regional authorities in the European semester by means of a code of conduct, which would greatly improve regional ownership and give EU economic governance greater legitimacy ."

Elio Di Rupo (BE/PES), Minister-President of Wallonia, CoR rapporteur on the European economic governance review and former Prime Minister of Belgium, said: " The Commission's outline of the fiscal reform focuses too much on debt reduction and leaves aside the need for investment in projects helping a transition to an environmentally, economically and socially sustainable society. A difference between expenditures and investments must be made. Public authorities at all levels need further flexibility to undertake investments, if the EU should reach its goal of boosting the economy. Historical times need extraordinary measures. The time of the lowest common denominator must be over now ."

The European Commission adopted today a Communication setting out orientations for a reformed EU economic governance framework, which aims at strengthening debt sustainability and enhance sustainable and inclusive growth through investment and reforms in Europe, while bringing more simplification.

Local and regional authorities are responsible for one third of total public expenditure and more than a half of public investment in the EU.

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Between October 2020 and April 2022, the CoR adopted two opinions on the European governance review drafted by Elio Di Rupo. Local and regional leaders reiterated the request for a "golden co-financing rule" that would exempt co-financing of the Structural and Investment Funds by the Members States and regions from the debt and deficit rules of the Stability and Growth Pact (SGP) SGP – activated in March 2020 for the first time in the history of the euro area.

The CoR also underlined the major flaws of the current European economic governance, such as the lack of transparency and democratic legitimacy, and said that it is imperative to avoid new austerity policies in the aftermath of the COVID-19 crisis and the war in Ukraine.

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