According to a recent analysis by the Joint Research Centre, inflation has likely deepened material and social deprivation, absolute poverty and energy poverty, and thus widened existing social inequalities within the EU. About 40 million EU citizens were unable to heat their homes adequately in 2022 and over 32.5 million people cannot afford a proper meal every day .
Although the gap between rich and poor in the European Union has increased over the past decades, the bloc is still a world leader in fighting inequality. Cohesion policy plays a key role in this as it is one of the biggest investment tools in the EU reducing social inequalities and stimulating the long-term development of the EU via concrete projects in our regions and cities. Programmes to reduce unemployment, re-skilling and training project, enhancing youth engagement, EU funds for the environmental and digital transition – the examples of EU support in our regions and cities is long.
In the current programming period (2021-2027) € 378 billion are foreseen in investments. With contributions from Member States via co-financing of EU project, the total support could rise to more than € 545 billion. As the Group of the Party of European Socialists (PES) in the European Committee of the Regions (CoR) we are taking forward a progressive European vision with solidarity as well as social and territorial cohesion at its core. Our PES Member and President of the European Committee of the Regions Vasco Alves Cordeiro (Member of the Parliament of the Autonomous Region of the Azores, Portugal) co-drafted the CoR's vision for the future of cohesion policy and the demands of regions and cities for after 2027.
Glad to be part of the REGI event for the Future of #CohesionPolicy organised by @TheProgressives 🙌
📺 Our @EU_CoR rapporteur @CoR_President shares important messages on the need to strengthen the fundamental aspects of Cohesion policy so that it regains its central place ⤵️ pic.twitter.com/VuK2ZVR6wX
— PES Group | European Committee of the Regions (@PES_CoR) November 7, 2023
Cohesion policy projects can help to support the most vulnerable and overcome existing disparities, even within the same region. They can make a true and visible difference on the ground. Ensuring this also in the future is a key concern for Socialists and Social Democrats in the European Committee of the Regions. An upgraded cohesion policy framework that responds to the many new challenges we are facing is needed for this, argues the PES Co-Rapporteur Vasco Alves Cordeiro:
"Cohesion Policy as we know it cannot survive in its current form. The European Committee of the Regions, as the voice of local and regional representatives, puts forward a clear proposal to renovate the policy to make it stronger and better equipped to address new challenges and growing disparities. There are many out there who are sceptic towards cohesion policy. To them we say that the European Union cannot survive without it. With a bold reform, flexibility, partnership and simplification, cohesion policy can continue to play its role as a long term, transformational and structural policy."
Regional disparities in unemployment increased over the last decade in Poland, Hungary, Italy, Bulgaria, Spain, Greece, and also in the Netherlands and Sweden. Regional disparities among young people, who are neither in employment nor in education/training have grown in France, Hungary, Poland, Bulgaria. Cohesion policy is needed more than ever. The policy has proven its successes in the past and it can continue to make a difference to leave no one and no place behind in the future. The Progressives are fighting for more flexibility, a strengthened multi-level governance and a European partnership pact to support all citizens in our regions and cities. Even though the year 2027 seems far away, there is no time to lose. The future of cohesion policy starts now and needs everyone on board!
Holding approximately 1/3 of the 🇪🇺 Budget, the Cohesion policy is a cornerstone of EU policies.
It is a precious tool we must preserve, to provide tailor-made solutions for the EU regions with their uniques features.
We won’t leave anyone behind.
🗨️ @IratxeGarper pic.twitter.com/lugVtb3ZUD
— S&D Group (@TheProgressives) November 7, 2023