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Regions demand stronger support and better rules to reinforce cohesion and cross-border cooperation with neighbouring countries  

​Boosting cross-border cooperation, a more impactful Revision of the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) and the future of Cohesion Policy post-2027 were amongst the main topics discussed during the meeting of the commission for Territorial cohesion policy and EU budget (COTER) of the European Committee of the Regions (CoR) on 26 September.

In a draft opinion by unanimous vote, the members of the COTER commission stressed the role of local and regional authorities in improving EU's external relations through a bottom-up approach.

The rapporteur Marie-Antoinette Maupertuis (FR/EA), President of the Regional Assembly of Corsica, said: "Russia's brutal war against Ukraine has reminded us of the importance to ensure stability in EU neighbourhood, both at eastern and southern borders, through enhanced land and maritime cross-border cooperation. Good cooperation between regions and local governments from the EU and its neighbouring countries is key to maintain peace, promote cohesion and prosperity. For this reason, we in the CoR have unanimously voted in favour of an increase of funding for Interreg programmes that are crucial to build trust and develop expertise and joint projects in neighbouring local and regional authorities, while they prepare to join the EU."

The opinion, which sees territorial cooperation as a strategic tool to promote sustainable development in countries neighbouring the EU, calls for a simplification of procedures in Interreg projects, for funding to be made more flexible in order to meet the needs of cross-border areas, and for cross-border cooperation actions to be connected more effectively with other EU funding programmes. The opinion particularly emphasises the urgent need to stand by Ukrainian regions and cities. The European Committee of the Regions was one of the founders, in 2022, of the European Alliance of Cities and Regions for the Reconstruction of Ukraine.

COTER members also adopted 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, they argue, be strengthened vis-à-vis other EU investment strategies. For more information click here.

The two draft opinions are scheduled to be voted on during the CoR Plenary on 29-30 November.

COTER members held a first debate on a draft opinion on the review and proposal for the Revision of the MFF 2021-27, by rapporteur is José Manuel Ribeiro (PT/PES), Mayor of Valongo. Members agree that the MFF 2021-27 should be revised to answer unforeseen needs, but this should not harm its long-term goals, in particular of Cohesion Policy. With specific regards to EU's green industrial policy, members underlined that the STEP proposal could lead to a concentration of funding and critical technologies in some regions and Member States, in contradiction with the "do not harm to cohesion" principle.

The draft opinion is scheduled to be adopted during the 10-11 October plenary session of the CoR.

Members of the COTER commission agreed to draw up opinions on two other topics, appointing José Ribau Esteves (PT/EPP), leader of Aveiro Town Council, as rapporteur on "Greening Freight Transport" and Andres Jaadla (EE/Renew), member of Rakvere City Council, as rapporteur on “Smart, sustainable and affordable housing as a tool for local authorities to face multiple challenges".

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