THE EUROPEAN COMMITTEE OF THE REGIONS
- welcomes the publication of the 8th Cohesion Report, which sets out both the main developments and the territorial disparities that European regions have experienced over the last decade, as well as its analysis of the positive impact of cohesion policy for the period 2014-2020 on investment across the regions of the European Union;
- highlights the effectiveness of cohesion policy in addressing the COVID-19 pandemic, notably through the flexibility measures introduced as of April 2020. Considers, however, that it is essential to maintain the focus of cohesion policy on strengthening territorial, economic and social cohesion in Europe;
- calls on the European Commission to define the concept "do no harm to cohesion", which must apply to all European policies in order to reduce the anti-cohesive effect of certain European policies, and to make it a real mechanism for assessing the impact of European policies on cohesion in Europe;
- calls on the Commission to enhance the role of the regions in the management of the Structural and Investment Funds and to strengthen the legislative provisions linked to the partnership, and to start a long-term reflection process involving ESIF managing authorities at regional level in order to simplify management, control and audit rules, leading to a genuine reform with a view to the next cohesion policy legislative package for the post-2027 period;
- notes on the basis of the 8th Cohesion Report that the public investment deficit in the European Union constitutes a hidden debt; therefore reiterates its often-expressed call for a "golden co-financing rule", whereby expenditure by Member States and local and regional authorities on co-financing under the Structural and Investment Funds is not counted as structural, public or similar expenditure as defined in the Stability and Growth Pact, in compliance with the EU co-financing limits that apply to it.