CoR members gathering at their plenary session today held a debate with Tomislav Donchev, Deputy Prime Minister of Bulgaria, who set out Bulgaria's six month EU Presidency priorities, which come at the beginning of complex negotiations on the next EU budget.
Speaking on behalf of the CoR PES Group, Olga Zrihen, Member of the Regional Parliament of Wallonia (PES/Belgium), called upon the Bulgarian Presidency to fight for a cohesion policy that remains accessible to all Member States.
"A 15% cut in the Cohesion Policy budget – as currently set on the discussion table - would mean that the Cohesion Policy would simply not exist anymore in many countries. We must not allow that a widening gap in wages, employment and growth between (and within) Member States puts the very essence of solidarity at stake ", she urged.
The Group's Vice-President also warned of any renationalisation of the cohesion policy for the sake of a "still very undemocratic European economic governance", as set out in the CoR's resolution on the ESI Common Provisions Regulation to support structural reforms adopted after the debate. The resolution rejects the European Commission's proposal for diverting resources allocated to the 2014-2020 cohesion policy to fund a programme aimed at supporting structural reforms in Member States and considers challenging it before the European Court of Justice on the grounds of a breach of the subsidiarity principle.
Last but not least, Olga Zrihen invited the Bulgarian Presidency to closely monitor the implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights. "The Social Pillar needs to be complemented by a strong European social strategy, which would pave the way for a convergence of real wages taking productivity into account ", she said.