MEPs struck a deal on the radical simplification of EU Regional Policy
Simplification, more flexibility and increased visibility of investments would be the key changes to the EU Regional Policy after the preliminary agreement MEPs struck with member states.
Rapporteur Constanze Krehl (S&D, DE) said: “Today’s outcome is a necessary breakthrough to radically adjust EU Regional Policy in order to make life for regions and citizens simpler. It also brings relief to regions when dealing with the refugee situation. These changes show that the policy is adaptable to citizens’ needs and the challenges of today’s world. And we cannot lose more time when it comes to our citizens. This is why the EU-Parliament fought hard to ensure that these positive changes can take effect as soon as possible”.
“The Parliament’s other main achievement in negotiations with the Council is making the policy more visible. We can only win the hearts and minds of our citizens, if we make the added value of the EU’s main investment policy more transparent. Cohesion policy gives us the means to do that”, concluded Ms Krehl.
The main aim of this mid-term reform is to cut the red-tape that puts extra burden to regions and citizens. Increasing the use of simplified cost-options and minimizing the number of necessary audits and striking a balance between more flexibility for the beneficiaries while maintaining sufficient levels of stability for the authorities involved, are some of the novelties included in the reform.
Flexibility and support for migrants and refugees
More flexibility will be given to use resources from all regional funds to deal with the challenges arising from integrating migrants and refugees. A new investment priority will be added to the European Regional Development Fund, enabling member states and their regions to e.g. finance the renovation or construction of accommodation infrastructure aimed at integration.
Visibility of cohesion policy
MEPs pushed to increase the visibility of cohesion policy giving particular attention to the results achieved with the support of European Structural and Investment Funds. The Commission would thus dedicate a key part of the technical assistance resources to communication and visibility actions, also beyond the end of programmes, in order to improve the outreach of this policy.
The so-called “Omnibus” proposal will revise the financial rules applicable to the general budget of the EU and the attached sectorial regulations. Budget and Budgetary Control Committees are the lead committees, whilst the Committee on Regional Development (REGI) has exclusive competence over changes to the Common Provisions Regulation, the European Regional Development Fund and the EU Solidarity Fund.
The preliminary agreement reached today with the Council will now need to be endorsed by REGI, before it can get the green light by the full House.
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