European Parliament backs regionsʼ and citiesʼ proposals for a strong cohesion policy 2021-27

13 February 2019
European Parliament backs regionsʼ and citiesʼ proposals for a strong cohesion policy 2021-27

The European Parliament's plenary vote on the Common Provision Regulation – setting common rules for all EU funds managed in partnership with national actors – endorsed key demands by the European Committee of the Regions (CoR), aiming at securing the role of local actors and the effectiveness of EU cohesion policy.

The European Committee of the Regions warmly welcomes the adoption of the European Parliament report on the Common Provision Regulations (CPR) for EU funds under shared management, during the plenary session held on 13 February in Strasbourg. The report converges with the key points of CoR opinion prepared by the President of the CoR PES Group Catiuscia Marini (IT/PES), President of the Umbria Region, and by the President of the CoR EPP Group Michael Schneider, State Secretary, Representative of the Land of Saxony-Anhalt to the Federal Government.

As highlighted by the CoR President, Karl-Heinz Lambertz, "Both EU political assemblies demand the respect of the principles of partnership and multilevel governance, insist that the preparation and implementation of the investment plans should take place at the appropriate territorial level, and oppose any suspension of funds punishing regions and cities as a consequence of decisions taken by national governments".

According to Ms Marini, "Today's vote is a breakthrough for cities and regions, as the report takes on board our demands for a strong cohesion policy, that remains available to all regions and is managed in partnership with local actors. The vote also confirms our ambition to make cohesion policy the key tool to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and fight against inequality and climate change at all levels across the EU. We call now on the Member States to do their part. Any delay on the next EU budget would be lethal for local and regional authorities that desperately need cohesion funds to bring forward investment that have a real impact on the lives of citizens."

With regards to the provisions obliging the Commission to freeze structural funds in Member States who fail to comply with the EU's budgetary and fiscal discipline, the Parliament vote, after years of discussions, goes now towards a deletion that was urged by the CoR since 2013, when the rule was introduced.  "Excessive deficit procedures that freeze EU investment on reducing disparities and supporting weakest communities would leave citizens out in the cold at the very moment when they are demanding support from the EU", commented the President Lambertz, adding that: "By changing its approach to this issue and increasing the flexibility of the Stability and Growth Pact to boost cohesion policy investment, the European Parliament shows to be closer to the European people and their hope to have more solidarity within the EU".

As for the matching funds that national and regional authorities must make available to activate cohesion policy's financial support – the so called "co-financing rates" –, the EP report is mostly in line with the CoR opinion, demanding to lower the minimum financial effort requested to Member States and regions, in comparison with the Commission's proposal tabled in May.

Full convergence also on reintroducing the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development into the CPR, to better integrate it with the other cohesion funds; securing financial allocation for the whole 2021-2027 period; and keeping the 'n+3' rule - which sets a maximum 3 year deadline between the formal commitment of funds for a project and the moment payments are actually operated – instead of switching to 'n+2' as proposed by the Commission.