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Opinion Number: CDR 137/2023
Rapporteur: RIJSBERMAN Michiel
Commission: COTER
Status: Adopted
Date: 24/05/2023
 
The political objective of the opinion is to ensure that all relevant EU policies contribute to achieving the objectives and principles of cohesion, integrating the principle of "do no harm to cohesion" in EU legislation and to ensure that Cohesion remains an overall objective and value of the EU.
The opinion contributes to the debate launched by Commissioner Ferreira at the 8th Cohesion Forum on how to ensure an effective achievement of the economic, social and territorial cohesion goals established in the Treaty by all EU policies.
It also follows up on the EP resolution on the 8th Cohesion report , which suggested that the CoR should be involved in the design of the "do no harm to cohesion" principle.
The opinion puts forward the CoR's political recommendations on how to put the "do no harm to cohesion" principle into practice, including by systematically applying territorial impact assessments to new EU policy proposals in their design phase, as well as on how other EU policies could contribute to cohesion, to avoid anti-cohesive dynamics and projects, while taking into account different specificities of EU territories.
The opinion contributed to giving more visibility to the CoR work on Territorial Impact Assessment (TIA). The Spanish Presidency invited the CoR to present its TIA work in the Better Regulation Council WG meeting on 13 September 2023, during which the Spanish Presidency representative considered the CoR as "the antenna drawing the attention of other European institutions to territorial impacts which may have been missed".
THE EUROPEAN COMMITTEE OF THE REGIONS



- underlines the importance of cohesion as a fundamental value of the European Union and a cross-cutting objective;

- proposes a wide interpretation of the "Do no harm to cohesion" (DNHC) principle, covering all European policies with spatial impact as well as relevant national policies, and encompassing a requirement to respect the cohesion principles of partnership and multi-level governance;

- stresses the need for a systematic ex-ante assessment of potential differentiated territorial impacts on all types of regions of all new EU policies with a territorial dimension in their design phase as the most effective tool to put the DNHC principle into practice;

- […]recommends reinforcing the assessment of potential differentiated territorial impacts and negative effects on cohesion in the EC Better Regulation toolbox […]:

• in BR Tool # 34, by making the use of the TIA Necessity Check mandatory to determine the need for a Territorial Impact Assessment […];

• by including a specific mandatory section in the explanatory memorandum explaining how the initiative upholds the "do no harm to cohesion" principle based on a "comply or explain" rule […]

- encourages national governments to conduct systematic ex ante territorial impact assessment so that no national policy is "spatially blind"; […]

reiterates its call on Member States and the Commission to ensure that the RRF and any successor directly incorporates the cohesion policy approach based on strategic evidence-based programming, multilevel governance and partnership.
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