Portugal's Prime Minister António Costa (PES) joined CoR members gathering at their plenary session for a debate on the future of Europe. In his intervention, the former mayor of Lisbon and ex PES Group member made a solid case for a strong future cohesion policy and advocated for a new set-up of the European convergence policy.
"Cohesion policy is the European policy that best underpins the European Union's motto United in diversity. Its greatest asset is that it touches the daily lives of citizens and reaches out to every region city, and village", he emphasized, calling for sufficient financial means for the cohesion policy in the future Multiannual Financial Framework.
Reminding that "Without the completion of the Economic and Monetary Union, we will not have a solid foundation for building the Europe of tomorrow, he also warmly welcomed the CoR's call for a Eurozone budget based on own resources to ensure more convergence.
Taking the floor on behalf of the PES Group, Christophe Rouillon, CoR rapporteur on the "Reflection Paper on the Deepening of the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) by 2025", stressed that "the EMU must promote upward convergence by combining responsibility and solidarity, reducing economic and social disparities in the euro area and strengthening social rights. If we want our citizens to be aware of the EU's added value, we need to equip cities and regions with financial means to invest in quality public services.
"We must ensure that convergence is not only limited to macroeconomic interpretations at national level ", he insisted and reiterated the CoR's call for excluding investments made by local and regional authorities in the framework of the European Structural and Investment Funds from the deficit calculations of the Stability and Growth Pact.
On the second day of the plenary session, the CoR also adopted a resolution on the European Commission's Annual Growth Survey 2018 arguing EU economic growth in the EU is being held back from an under-appreciation of regional disparities and stressing the key importance of EU regional investment as the EU's main investment tool.