Strengthening the involvement of LRAs in European economic governance in general, and the European Semester in particular (whether as targets for CSRs, or as partners for NRPs drafting and implementation, etc.);
Increasing the involvement of LRAs and the CoR in the design and implementation of Europe's long-term strategy for growth and jobs and a sustainable European future (based on the new approach announced by the European Commission by 2016, based on the Europe 2020 review and linked to reflexions on the UN sustainable development goals)
Reinforcing the interinstitutional role of the CoR at EU level in the field of economic governance in general, and in the semester in particular, in part via deeper cooperation with relevant institutions (EP, principally, and EC)
The Opinion was requested by both the Council of the European Union and the European Parliament.
Once adopted, it was sent also to the Structural Reform Support Programme at the Secretariat General of the EC and the Dutch Presidency of the Council.
To disseminate the content of the Opinion, contacts are ongoing with the EP Rapporteur Ms Constanze KREHL (S&D/DE) as well as with officials in charge in the Secretariat of the REGI Committee.
Preliminary contacts are underway with the Council Slovakian Presidency, in view of the negotiation to take place in the second part of the year.
According to the latest news, the first reading could not be concluded before April 2017.
THE EUROPEAN COMMITTEE OF THE REGIONS
- agrees with the principle underlying this support programme, which aims to provide – on a voluntary basis and upon request – technical assistance with regard to structural reforms in Member States, and which should be used in policy areas that fall under the competences shared between the European Union and the Member States;
- considers that the main objective of the support programme should be to improve administrative capacity at national, regional and local levels of government in requesting Member States; believes that implementation of the programme should be based on a single strategic Union document to improve the institutional and administrative capacity of public authorities at all levels of government; this document would enable effective coordination with existing technical assistance programmes at EU and beneficiary Member State level;
- stresses that, in view of the division of powers and responsibilities applying in each Member State and the country-specific recommendations often addressed to local and regional authorities, the programme must be open to local and regional authorities;
- points out that a high level of ownership of the structural reforms on the ground by the relevant local and regional authorities, social partners and civil society players is essential for the programme to be successful and for it to help to raise confidence and promote cooperation between the requesting Member State, the Commission and the other Member States;
- stresses that the programme should be considered to be a pilot programme; recommends that it be evaluated in good time, in order to decide whether it would be beneficial to make it permanent, and, if so, whether establishing a fund of own resources to support structural reforms is necessary, feasible and desirable;
stresses that financing the programme through the transfer of funds allocated to technical assistance under the European Structural and Investment Funds can only be a temporary solution; furthermore, is opposed to these funding arrangements paving the way for subordinating cohesion policy to the "European Semester" exercise since cohesion policy has its own legitimacy, enshrined in the European Treaties.