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European Parliament joins Cohesion Alliance  
The European Parliament's commitment to a stronger, flexible, simpler and participatory cohesion policy, emphasised in a report adopted on 13 June, has been welcomed by the European Committee of the Regions (CoR) as a key step ahead in the mobilisation of key stakeholders under the # CohesionAlliance. Its aim is to ensure that Brexit and budgetary constraints do not weaken the EU's main investment tool and to make sure that citizens and local communities can rely on improved European Structural and Investment (ESI) Funds after 2020.
"We warmly welcome the adoption of the report on post-2020 EU cohesion policy by the European Parliament today. It substantially reinforces our Cohesion Alliance, calling for the strengthening of this most impressive European instrument of solidarity and bridge-building between European communities. In particular, we fully support the report's call for an adequate budget, policy simplification and respect for the partnership principle," said the CoR rapporteur on the future cohesion policy , Michael Schneider, State Secretary of Saxony-Anhalt and President of the CoR's EPP Group. "We hope to form a strong Cohesion Alliance with Members of the European Parliament in order to pave a way toward a strong and effective cohesion policy post-2020," he added.
After the vote, the European Parliament's rapporteur on building blocks for a post-2020 EU cohesion policy , Kerstin Westphal (S&D/DE), said: "The European Parliament has made it clear that citizens want cohesion policy to continue to reduce disparities across the EU and support inclusive and sustainable growth in all regions. We are aware that the Brexit impact and the hard negotiations on the next EU budget risk weakening this policy, reducing its capacity to support EU citizens and businesses. Together with the Committee of the Regions, we will need to mobilise and involve all stakeholders and beneficiaries in making visible what cohesion policy means for our communities, ensuring that the voice of our citizens, of our regions and cities, is heard in Brussels and in capital cities. By working together we can pave the way for a strong, flexible, visible and easy-to-use cohesion policy, helping the 27 to deliver inclusive growth and tackle crucial challenges such as climate change and migration."
With regards to improving the policy implementation, rapporteur Westphal emphasised the need to ensure a real involvement of stakeholders at all levels, by fully respecting the partnership principle: " The current Code of Conduct should be strengthened by introducing minimum requirements for partnership involvement, " she said. This point is also of central importance also in the CoR's position, which calls for mandatory provisions to ensure that cohesion policy fulfils its unique function of bringing EU, national, regional and local institutions together with local actors.
In relation to the debate over strengthening and diversifying legal requirements for the access to cohesion policy funding (so called "conditionalities"), the Committee welcomes the Parliament's position against macro-economic conditionality (a rule allowing the freezing of ESI funds in countries where national governments do not comply with budgetary consolidation commitments). According to the CoR, cohesion policy must not be subject to conditionalities that cannot be influenced by local and regional authorities. More in general, the Committee fully shares the Parliament's request that the link between cohesion policy and economic governance under the European Semester must be balanced, reciprocal and non-punitive.
Pierluigi Boda
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