14 January 2020
EU Green Deal must go hand in hand with a strong cohesion policy

EU Green Deal must go hand in hand with a strong cohesion policy

The Just Transition Fund can only become reality on the ground in conjunction with regional investment and cohesion policy. This is why we should not rob Peter (cohesion policy) to pay Paul (the Just Transition Fund). This is the main message of PES Group members reacting to today’s European Commission proposal for a Just Transition Fund and Mechanism.

As part of the European Green Deal, the Just Transition Mechanism responds to a major request of Europe's regions: assisting those regions most heavily affected by the green transition, in particular those with carbon-intensive industries such as coal and steelmaking, to move towards a climate-neutral economy. In total, the Commission aims to generate around EUR 100 billion under this new instrument, which will have a Fund of around EUR 7.5 billion managed under cohesion policy rules and drawing resources mainly from the EU’s long-term budget.

Speaking at the European Parliament’s plenary session, Commissioner Frans Timmermans stressed: “The Green Deal must be inspired by solidarity: while paving the way for Europe becoming the first climate-neutral continent we need to ensure that no one is left behind in the transition.”

Reacting on behalf of the Socialist Group in the European Parliament, President  Iratxe García Pérez emphasised: “We need to look at the need for fresh funding to underpin this social and ecological transformation. We must not undermine the cohesion funds and the agricultural fund.”

Commenting on the proposals, PES Group member Vojko Obersnel, Mayor of Rijeka (Croatia) and European Committee of the Regions’ rapporteur on the topic, argued: “We certainly welcome the fact that all affected regions will be able to benefit from the Just Transition Fund and that there will be additional money. However, EUR 7.5 billion do not make up for the severe cuts to the overall cohesion policy budget under negotiation in the Council. All additional financial promises the European Commission gives are high hopes for the moment – but will they be able to deliver in the regions?”

The concerns of progressive local and regional leaders had alrdeay been raised last week at a meeting between the #CohesionAlliance partners and the European Commissioner for Cohesion and Reforms, Elisa Ferreira, and at which PES member Vasco Cordeiro, President of the Azores Region (Portugal) pointed out: “We all agree  on the goals and the principles and the importance of this new fund. The devil, however, lies in resources and procedure: How can we be sure that regions are strengthened if the Just Transition Fund comes at the expenses of cohesion policy, thus jeopardizing the key solidarity instrument of the European project.”

 

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Photo credit: Unsplash/Science in HD

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