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Europe needs a stronger and reformed Cohesion Policy to be fit for the future, regions and cities say  

​Local and regional leaders put forward their key requests in the opinion on the future of Cohesion Policy drafted by the CoR President Cordeiro and the COTER commission Chair Boc.

A few days ahead of the informal meeting of EU ministers responsible for Cohesion Policy in Murcia (Spain), cities and regions put forward their first requests on how this crucial policy should look like in the future. A reformed Cohesion Policy must tackle emerging inequalities, be simpler and firmly rooted in EU territories. The current macroeconomic conditionality should be eliminated, and a new emergency mechanism for the use of funds should be created to give local administrators the flexibility to cope with unexpected crises. ​

While territorial disparities remain across the EU, the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change and the Russian war against Ukraine have created new inequalities and aggravated existing structural vulnerabilities. Only through a strong and reformed Cohesion Policy, the European Union would be able to tackle these economic, social and territorial disparities in all EU regions.

Members of the commission for Territorial cohesion policy and EU budget (COTER) of the European Committee of the Regions (CoR) adopted today by unanimity a draft opinion on the future of Cohesion Policy after 2027, when the current seven-year EU long-term budget ends. The President of the CoR, Vasco Alves Cordeiro (PT/PES), and the COTER Chair, Emil Boc (RO/EPP), are the co-rapporteurs of the text, which outlines the vision of European cities and regions for the future of a policy whose role should be strengthened vis-à-vis other EU investment strategies.

On Friday 29 September, President Cordeiro will bring the CoR's requests to the table of EU ministers responsible for Cohesion Policy, who will be in Murcia (Spain) for an informal meeting called by the Spanish Presidency of the Council of the EU.

President Cordeiro said: "This draft opinion follows a bold approach to improve Cohesion Policy and make sure it remains the main investment covering all regions and supporting them in managing the structural transformation linked to the green and digital transition. As co-rapporteurs, we share the common understanding that Cohesion Policy cannot survive if we remain purely defensive. We must retain and build on what works well, we must improve what should be improved and we must change what needs changing. For the next programming period, we suggest, among many other aspects, a European Partnership Pact which would make it easier for beneficiaries to manage the funds. Simplification should become a guiding principle for Cohesion Policy. I will debate the future of Cohesion Policy with Ministers from Member States in Murcia, at the Informal Cohesion Council, later this week."

Emil Boc, COTER Chair, Major of Cluj-Napoca and former Prime Minister of Romania, said: "Cohesion Policy is the glue that keeps the European Union together. We must ask ourselves: do we want a Europe with deep development gaps, or do we want a Europe with no region left behind? Without a strong Cohesion policy, we would see the end of peace and democracy in Europe. It is a policy that generates concrete results on the ground: roads, schools excellence centers and so much more. Cohesion Policy will keep on investing in all regions to help low-growth and low-income regions in the south and east of Europe to catch up, but also to address pockets of poverty in richer Member States. The founding principles of Cohesion Policy, such as its partnership principle and territorial approach, must be safeguarded. We need simpler and clearer rules. The ‘Do no harm to cohesion' principle should apply to all EU policies so that they support the objectives of social, economic and territorial cohesion."

Key political requests of the draft opinion, are:

  • macroeconomic conditionality should be eliminated because structural funds cannot be held hostage to national decisions;
  • all European regions should remain eligible for funding in the future;
  • the shared-management model, multi-level governance and the partnership principle should be kept as guiding principles of Cohesion Policy post-2027;
  • the objective of territorial cohesion must be binding for all other European policies;
  • the overall funding architecture should be simplified because of the presence of multiple funds directly or indirectly intended for cohesion;
  • ​the creation of a mechanism for the flexible use of funds in the event of exceptional crises, without hampering long-term investments.

The draft opinion is scheduled to be voted on at the CoR Plenary on 29-30 November.

On 9 October, the Committee of the Regions will publish its EU Annual Report on the State of Regions and Cities, providing a snapshot of the most pressing challenges faced by regions and cities across Europe, as well as solutions from the ground to inform EU policy decisions. More information here.

Background:​

The work of the CoR on the future of Cohesion Policy started in March in Sibiu (Romania), where COTER members had a first debate on the Cordeiro-Boc opinion and, together with the Ministry of European Investments and Projects of Romania, organised a high-level conference on the topic. The event enabled an unprecedented exchange between national, regional and local representatives on the impact of Cohesion Policy and investments.

Together with the leading European associations of cities and regions, the CoR is a founding partner of the #CohesionAlliance, whose mission is to affirm cohesion as a fundamental value of the European Union and a key objective for all its policies and investment.

Contacts:
Hannah Cornelsen - Spokesperson of the President
Tel: +32 470970128
hannah.cornelsen@cor.europa.eu

Matteo Miglietta
Tel: +32 470 89 53 82
matteo.miglietta@cor.europa.eu

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