Brussels, 18 February 2020
Ahead of the special European Council and after analysing the revised negotiation box on the next Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) proposed by Charles Michel, the President of the European Council, the PES Group in the European Committee of the Regions calls on Member States to block a decision that could trigger a disaster for Europe’s future. The fact of weakening the cohesion policy, the EU’s most important investment policy, signifies damaging Europe’s main tool to stimulate and accompany sustainable development strategies.
Vasco Alves Cordeiro, the new First Vice-President of the European Committee of the Regions and the President of the regional government of Azores (Portugal), explained:
“The last MFF proposal hits hard cohesion policy by a decrease of 12% compared to the current framework and with co-financing rates still below the current period. Deciding to reduce the support to regional development notably through cohesion policy will not bring the EU closer to its citizens. Regions and cities will not be able to do more for their citizens and the EU with less EU support. The EU needs to take into account the growing inequalities above all. This MFF is the only chance EU leaders have to put the EU on the path towards sustainable equality and a just transition that leaves no places and no people behind. A failure would cost the credibility of the European Union project. Time has come for EU Members States to put the money where their mouth is.”
Isabelle Boudineau, President of the European Committee of the Regions’ commission for regional affairs (COTER) and Vice-President of the Nouvelle-Aquitaine Region (France), declared:
“This proposal (that represents only 2% of the EU public spending) confirms that Member States are still focusing on bargaining national rebates rather than on facing our citizens’ urgent problems. The cuts to the rural development risk leaving behind the areas that are most affected by problems of depopulation, climate change and mobility. There cannot be a just transition without supporting these areas too. In the same way, cuts to regional cross-border cooperation negate the very essence of European integration that is to overcome borders! Finally, we insist on the fact that the cohesion policy must remain accessible to all regions. Cuts are counter-productive because they do not take into account intra-regional disparities that are the cause of a growing populism. Is this the European Union we want? Is this the European Union our citizens voted for in the last European elections? The stakes are high this time and a mistake will not be accepted.”
Notes to the editor:
- The PES Group launched an appeal together with the S&D Group in the European Parliament in April 2019. Entitled “No places and no people left behind in the EU”, it calls for a cohesion policy as a key tool to make sustainable development a reality, based on accessibility to all regions, the participation of citizens and the mainstreaming of the Sustainable Development Goals.
- The allocation for rural development has been cut by 7,5 billion EUR to 72,537 billion EUR (compared to 80,037 billion EUR). The Just Transition Fund (JTF) is included in this heading (7.5 billion EUR), giving the impression that the financing of the JTF is being financed by corresponding cuts for rural development.