The EP is united in its belief that the EU's support for poorer regions is one of the most important tools for creating growth, said EP president Martin Schulz after hosting a high-level meeting on the so-called cohesion policy with leaders from 16 European countries and representatives of organisations for firms and trade unions. The meeting came ahead of a special summit on 22-23 November in Brussels where heads of state and government will gather to strike a deal on the 2014-2020 EU budget.
President Schulz added that while the idea of cutting the EU budget may be popular in some member states, it can be counter-productive to stimulating the economy and creating jobs. The two co-organisers of the meeting, Polish prime minister Donald Tusk and his Portuguese counterpart Pedro Passos Coelho, stressed that the EU's cohesion policy, supporting economically less developed regions, can be the best policy in times of crisis if it goes hand in hand with better spending.
European Commission president José Manuel Barroso, who also attended the meeting, pointed out that cohesion policy means growth and investment for the EU. He expressed hope that these arguments will be heard at next week's summit and that member states will come to an agreement on the long-term budget, which is then approved by the EP before the end of the year.
The meeting was attended by the leaders of Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Greece, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia and Spain, as well as representatives from Business Europe, ETUC and the European Association of SMEs.