In the presence of Corina Crețu, the European Commissioner for Regional Policy, CoR members today gave unanimous backing to the draft opinion on the Common Provisions Regulation, which governs the main EU funds, including the European Fund for Regional Development, the European Social Fund + and the European Fund for Territorial Cooperation in the 2021-2027 period.
Co-drafted by the President of the PES Group and President of the Umbria Region, Catiuscia Marini (PES/Italy), and by Michael Schneider, President of the EPP Group and State Secretary for European Affairs of the Land of Sachsen-Anhalt (EPP/Germany), it calls for a strong future cohesion policy as the main EU tool for solidarity and for the reintroduction of the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) into the common strategic framework.
In her intervention, Commissioner Crețu stressed that “The success of regional policies is firmly based on cooperation with local and regional partners, who deliver it with their ideas and local knowledge, their energy and passion on the ground. We need to make sure that all citizens continue to benefit from it and that no region is left behind".
President Marini emphasised that "A strong cohesion policy that shows the EU added value in our cities and regions through concrete projects is more needed than ever at a time when populism and Euroscepticism are on the rise". Warning against any attempts to renationalise cohesion policy, she stressed that "It is vital that the principles of partnership and multilevel governance are fully respected and that cities and regions are fully involved throughout the process. Likewise, we need to make sure that we have an integrated approach which sees the European Social Fund Plus and the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development as an integral part of European cohesion policy".
The CoR puts forward a clear vision on the future of cohesion policy, also including the following key requests of the PES Group:
- Preserving a cohesion policy for all regions and maintaining the level of co-financing rates at 85% for the less-developed regions and outermost regions, and the Cohesion Fund at 70% for the transition regions and 50% for the more developed regions;
- Avoiding transfers from cohesion funds to other non-cohesion programmes, such as the Reform Support Programme;
- Opposing macro-economic conditionality – which allows for funds to be frozen in countries where national governments do not comply with EU fiscal discipline – as cities and regions must not be penalised for policies pursued by national governments;
- Integrating the cohesion investment priorities into a new long-term EU strategy implementing the Sustainable Development Goals.
Ahead of the decisive votes in the European Parliament (EP), the PES Group will further cooperate on the future regulations with the EP's co-rapporteur, Constanze Krehl (S&D/DE).