CoR members backed today by overwhelming majority – with only the ECR group opposing it - the opinion on the Structural Reform Support Programme and new budgetary instruments for the euro area by Olga Zrihen, Member of the Walloon Parliament (PES/Belgium).
The opinion reacts to two European Commission proposals enclosed in the Economic and Monetary Union package of 6 December 2017: the proposal to prolong and raise the budget for the Structural Reform Support Program (SRSP) and the Communication on new budgetary instruments for the euro area.
The rapporteur strongly opposes the idea of diverting resources from the European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) towards a programme which is managed centrally, with a top-down approach that does not take into account the specific needs of local communities.
"We say no to neo-liberal structural reforms done through the back door and yes to EU support for reforms that have a clear European added value, respect democratic rules and make a difference on the ground", Olga Zrihen pointed out.
She also stressed the need to give local and regional authorities ownership in the reform processes. "We need to ensure full participation of local and regional authorities in the National Reform Programmes and add the territorial dimension to the European Semester", she emphasised, calling for a code of conduct which would set standards for the involvement of local and regional authorities.
In relation to the proposed budgetary instruments for the euro area, the opinion supports the creation of an EU instrument to address asymmetric shocks. However, to be effective, any potential support should not overlap but rather complement existing instruments such as the European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) and the European Fund for Strategic Investment (EFSI).
Finally, in order to avoid a crowding out effect on funding for the ESIF and other EU policies, the draft opinion reiterates the CoR's opposition to a euro area heading in the EU budget while the own resources ceiling would remain fixed at the current level of 1.23% of the EU's Gross National Income (GNI).