Procedure : 2016/2695(RSP)
Document stages in plenary
Document selected : B8-0851/2016

Texts tabled :

B8-0851/2016

Debates :

PV 05/07/2016 - 14
CRE 05/07/2016 - 14

Votes :

PV 06/07/2016 - 6.11
Explanations of votes

Texts adopted :

P8_TA(2016)0311

MOTION FOR A RESOLUTION
PDF 271kWORD 75k
See also joint motion for a resolution RC-B8-0851/2016
29.6.2016
PE585.286v01-00
 
B8-0851/2016

to wind up the debate on the statement by the Commission

pursuant to Rule 123(2) of the Rules of Procedure


on synergies for innovation: the European Structural and Investment Funds, Horizon 2020 and other European innovation funds and EU programmes (2016/2695(RSP))


Ernest Maragall, Davor Škrlec, Bronis Ropė on behalf of the Verts/ALE Group

European Parliament resolution on synergies for innovation: the European Structural and Investment Funds, Horizon 2020 and other European innovation funds and EU programmes (2016/2695(RSP))  
B8-0851/2016

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, and in particular Articles 4, 162 and 174 to 178 thereof,

–  having regard to Regulation (EU) No 1303/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 December 2013 laying down common provisions on the European Regional Development Fund, the European Social Fund, the Cohesion Fund, the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund and laying down general provisions on the European Regional Development Fund, the European Social Fund, the Cohesion Fund and the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund and repealing Council Regulation (EC) No 1083/2006 (hereinafter ‘the Common Provisions Regulation’)(1),

–  having regard to Regulation (EU) No 1301/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 December 2013 on the European Regional Development Fund and on specific provisions concerning the investment for growth and jobs goal and repealing Regulation (EC) No 1080/2006(2),

–  having regard to Regulation (EU) No 1304/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 December 2013 on the European Social Fund and repealing Council Regulation (EC) No 1081/2006(3),

–  having regard to Regulation (EU) No 1299/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 December 2013 on specific provisions for the support from the European Regional Development Fund to the European territorial cooperation goal(4),

–  having regard to Regulation (EU) No 1302/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 December 2013 amending Regulation (EC) No 1082/2006 on a European grouping of territorial cooperation (EGTC) as regards the clarification, simplification and improvement of the establishment and functioning of such groupings(5),

–  having regard to Regulation (EU) No 1300/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 December 2013 on the Cohesion Fund and repealing Council Regulation (EC) No 1084/2006(6),

–  having regard to Regulation (EU) No 1305/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 December 2013 on support for rural development by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) and repealing Council Regulation (EC) No 1698/2005(7),

–  having regard to Regulation (EU) No 1291/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 December 2013 establishing Horizon 2020 – the Framework Programme for Research and Innovation (2014-2020) and repealing Decision No 1982/2006/EC(8),

–  having regard to its resolution of 14 January 2014 on smart specialisation: networking excellence for a sound Cohesion Policy(9),

–  having regard to its resolution of 9 September 2015 on ‘Investment for jobs and growth: promoting economic, social and territorial cohesion in the Union’(10),

–  having regard to its resolution of 26 November 2015 on Towards simplification and performance orientation in cohesion policy 2014-2020(11),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 10 June 2014 entitled ‘Research and innovation as sources of renewed growth’ (COM(2014)0339),

–  having regard to the Commission’s sixth report on economic, social and territorial cohesion, entitled ‘Investment for jobs and growth’, of 23 July 2014,

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 26 November 2014 entitled ‘An Investment Plan for Europe’ (COM(2014)0903),

–  having regard to the Commission staff working document of 20 June 2014 entitled ‘Enabling synergies between European Structural and Investment Funds, Horizon 2020 and other research, innovation and competitiveness-related Union programmes’ (SWD(2014)0205),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 6 October 2010 entitled ‘Regional Policy contributing to smart growth in Europe 2020’ (COM(2010)0553),

–  having regard to the opinion of the Committee of the Regions of 30 July 2013 entitled ‘Closing the Innovation Divide’,

–  having regard to the opinion of the Committee of the Regions of 20 November 2014 entitled ‘Measures to support the creation of high-tech start-up ecosystems’,

–  having regard to Rule 123(2) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.  whereas cohesion policy in the 2014-2020 financial programming period continues to represent the main EU instrument covering all regions for investment in the real economy, and is at the same time the expression of European solidarity by extending growth and prosperity and reducing economic, social and territorial disparities, which were exacerbated by the economic and financial crisis;

B.  whereas cohesion policy is fully aligned with the Europe 2020 strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth, and is built around the articulation of its three instruments, the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), the European Social Fund (ESF) and the Cohesion Fund (CF), together with a broader coordination under a Common Strategic Framework (CSF) with the funds for rural development, namely the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) and, for the maritime and fisheries sector, the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF);

C.  whereas common provisions were established for all five of these funds – the European Structural and Investment Funds (ESI Funds) – under the Common Provisions Regulation, while specific rules applicable to each ESI Fund and to the European territorial cooperation goal were subject to separate regulations;

D.  whereas the recent cohesion policy reform introduced a limited number of objectives and priorities, creating a thematic focus / thematic concentration, while allowing a certain degree of flexibility and adaptation to certain characteristics; whereas, moreover, it ensured an enhanced partnership principle and solid multi-level governance, a well‑defined approach for territorial development, increased synergies between the five funds, but also with other relevant funds (e.g. Horizon 2020, the Programme for Social Change and Innovation, COSME and LIFE), further simplification of the implementation rules, an effective monitoring and evaluation system, a transparent performance framework, clear rules on the use of financial instruments, a sound management and control system and an effective financial management system;

E.  whereas, in order to facilitate the focus on performance and on attaining the objectives of the Europe 2020 strategy, a performance reserve was introduced for each Member State, consisting of 6 % of the resources allocated to the ERDF (without the European territorial cooperation goal), the ESF, the CF, the EAFRD and the EMFF, whereas – on the basis of a performance review in 2019 – it is envisaged that the reserve will be allocated only to those programmes and priorities which have achieved their milestones, and whereas ex-ante conditionalities were introduced with a view to ensuring the effectiveness of expenditure under the ESI Funds, while tight monitoring and evaluations mean that the cohesion policy for 2014-2020 is the most evaluated policy within the EU budget;

F.  whereas on 14 December 2015 the Commission adopted a communication on the contribution of the ESI Funds to the EU’s growth strategy, the Investment Plan for Europe and the Commission’s priorities over the next decade, which is in fact the report provided for in Article 16 of the Common Provisions Regulation on the ESI Funds, on their implementation so far, which also includes the outcomes of the negotiations with all the Member States on partnership agreements, operational programmes and the key challenges for each country;

G.  whereas grants are the right way to support projects with high positive externalities, i.e. those which benefit society as a whole and are consequently hard to measure on the basis of their short and medium-term economic return, and whereas financial instruments are the right way to support projects with lower positive externalities, which must consequently be measured primarily on the basis of their economic return;

1.  Restates that links between cohesion policy and other EU policies and initiatives (Horizon 2020, the Connecting Europe Facility, rural development, the digital single market and the energy union) have been strengthened within the Common Strategic Framework introduced by the Common Provisions Regulation, and thus, through all its instruments and objectives, including the urban agenda, the territorial agenda, investment in SMEs, smart growth and smart specialisation strategies, it is contributing to achieving Europe 2020 targets;

2.  Underlines the fact that the aforementioned synergies are built in right from the strategic planning stage, and therefore require, from the start, strategic choices and planning by the regions and the Member States in order to identify and generate opportunities; points out that, in the case of Horizon 2020, this consists in raising awareness, providing information, engaging in communication campaigns and connecting National Contact Points (NCP) as much as possible to national and regional ESIF policymakers and managing authorities;

3.  Stresses that the development of smart specialisation strategies through the involvement of national or regional managing authorities and stakeholders such as universities and other higher education institutions, industry and the social partners in an entrepreneurial discovery process is compulsory for regions and Member States that wish to invest European Regional Development Fund resources in research and innovation, given that smart specialisation strategies should include upstream actions (capacity building and improving national/regional R&I systems) and downstream actions (innovation/market) under Horizon 2020, which in turn stimulates cooperation at EU level for closing the innovation divide in Europe and invests in particular in connections between front‑runners and followers in the context of the Spreading Excellence and Widening Participation activities, while the smart specialisation methodology can become a more important model for the articulation of cohesion policy post-2020;

4.  Believes that result-orientation in cohesion policy should be further strengthened; underlines the urgent need to increase synergies with other EU policies on competitiveness, in particular in the field of research and development, ICT, renewable energies and SMEs, with a view to increasing the exploitation rate of EU R&D results, creating new high-quality jobs and maintaining existing ones, and promoting the green economy; calls on the Commission to assess options for increasing the synergetic use of different EU instruments, in particular between Horizon 2020 and smart specialisation initiatives (RIS3);

5.  Notes that, in the 2014-2020 programming period, cohesion policy allows financial instruments to play a stronger role, and that financial instruments, if implemented effectively, can increase the impact of financing for market uptake of innovation, for example in the area of energy efficiency; stresses, however, that more evidence is needed to understand how such financial instruments can be used effectively; recalls that grants and financial instruments do not finance the same types of activities and that those different forms of support target different types of beneficiaries and projects; expresses acute concern over the future of grant funding in EU programmes; stresses the importance of continuing with grants for certain sectors or types of activities; underlines the fact that the right balance between grants and financial instruments must be maintained in the future; recalls the need to further strengthen the accountability, transparency and result-orientation of financial instruments;

6.  Emphasises that, because the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI) and European Structural and Investment Funds policies (cohesion, rural development and fisheries) target different policy and institutional levels, they need to complement each other, not least in terms of resources; is concerned about the Commission proposal requiring the highest risk-taking tranche of the investment to be covered by the ESI Funds instead of EFSI when the instruments are combined; believes that this leads to legal uncertainty in the use of the ESI Funds, and runs counter to the initial EFSI rationale of providing for new risk-bearing capacity for EU investment;

7.  Notes that synergies with other policies and instruments must be further enhanced in order to maximise the impact of investments; recalls, in this context, the Stairway to Excellence (S2E) EU budget pilot project, which continues to support regions of 13 Member States in developing and exploiting the synergies between the ESI Funds; highlights the importance of also identifying related areas of specialisation in other regions and Member States with a view to teaming up with them and being better prepared for multi-country project opportunities and becoming internationally connected;

8.  Points out that there is not enough funding under Horizon 2020 and that projects evaluated as being excellent do not receive funding; stresses that alternative funding has to be unlocked, for example ESI Fund grants could take over excellent Horizon 2020 projects with the help of the Seal of Excellence;

9.  Underlines the fact that EFSI must be complementary and additional to the ESI Funds and other EU programmes such as Horizon 2020; stresses that full coherence and synergies between all EU instruments should be ensured in order to avoid overlaps or contradictions among them or between the different levels of policy implementation; recalls that the review of the Europe 2020 strategy must address this challenge with a view to using all available resources effectively and achieving the expected results as regards the overarching strategic goals, given that the quantity, quality and impact of R&I investments should be increased through the coordinated use of cohesion policy instruments and Horizon 2020;

10.  Notes the exploratory work of the Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation with a view to the possible establishment of a European Innovation Council for better coordination of innovation initiatives in the EU (December 2015); warns against adding additional layers to an already complex landscape of EU-funded instruments (such as the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT), Future and Emerging Technologies (FET) schemes, contractual public-private partnerships, Joint Technology Initiatives (JTIs), European Innovation Partnerships, InnovFin, and EFSI financing), and reminds the Commission that innovation occurs at the regional and local levels, and that therefore a centralised instrument or decision-making body would most likely not be the most effective instrument;

11.  Draws the attention to the ongoing project Towards Regional Economic Convergence (TREC), aimed at bringing together industrial clusters and technological centres in different EU regions – both lead and follower regions – in order to foster benchmarking, the exchange of best practices, innovation and catch-up strategies; calls for close monitoring of its results and the identification, if the scheme is successful of ways to include it in the ongoing funding instruments under the competitiveness budgetary heading;

12.  Highlights the fact, as recognised by the Court of Auditors, that the funding of the EIT is too concentrated within a few countries and a limited number of Knowledge and Innovation Community (KICs) partners, with 73% of EIT funding going to five countries; calls on the Commission and the EIT to substantially beef up funding and activities under the Regional Innovation Schemes in order to support innovation in a wider number of regions and spread EIT support activities more widely;

13.  Request that the Commission issue a communication on the implementation of synergies given that, with the exception of a reference to their potential in the use of scarce investment resources and to general prospects for tackling new challenges in the future, this issue is missing from its report drawn up under Article 16 of the Common Provisions Regulation, while country-specific recommendations (CSRs)form part of these synergies;

14.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission and the governments and parliaments of the Member States.

(1)

OJ L 347, 20.12.2013, p. 320.

(2)

OJ L 347, 20.12.2013, p. 289.

(3)

OJ L 347, 20.12.2013, p. 470.

(4)

OJ L 347, 20.12.2013, p. 259.

(5)

OJ L 347, 20.12.2013, p. 303.

(6)

OJ L 347, 20.12.2013, p. 281.

(7)

OJ L 347, 20.12.2013, p. 487.

(8)

OJ L 347, 20.12.2013, p. 104.

(9)

Texts adopted, P7_TA(2014)0002.

(10)

Texts adopted, P8_TA(2015)0308.

(11)

Texts adopted, P8_TA(2015)0419.

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