MEPs have come out against controversial Commission plans to make it more difficult for financially troubled member states to get a share of €336 billion earmarked to support regions. On 11-12 July the regional developed committee voted on proposals setting out how money from the EU's cohesion policy to support regions should be allocated in 2014-2020. The committee vote was about determining the Parliament's negotiation position on this in talks with the Commission and the Council.
About the EU's cohesion policy
The EU's cohesion policy is a key initiative aimed at reducing social and economic disparities between Europe's regions. It does this by financing at regional level projects that promote growth, job creation, competitiveness and sustainable development. All regions are eligible, but most of the money goes towards poorer regions.
For the period 2014-2020 the Commission proposes to reserve €336 billion - one third of the EU budget - for the EU's cohesion policy. An additional €40 billion should also go to the Connecting Europe Facility that aims to invest in trans-European transport, energy and IT infrastructure.
The plans discussed by the regional development committee are about the conditions member states and projects must meet in order to qualify for cohesion funding.
The EP's regional development committee rejected some of the conditions in the original proposal. One of them is that of macroeconomic conditionality, which means the Commission would be able to suspend part or all of the funding if it finds a member state's economic governance lacking. MEPs are against this condition as they fear it would be to the detriment of financially troubled countries. They would lose access to new investments just when they need them the most.
The committee was also concerned about the idea for a performance reserve, which could also end up penalising some of the member states. If this were to go ahead, then 5% of the funding for a project would be set aside and only be awarded if the country involved is judged to have managed the project well.
The committee meeting on 11-12 July was about determining the Parliament's negotiation position. EP representatives now have a mandate when they enter talks with the Commission and the Council.
Plans for the cohesion policy are part of the overall negotiations on the EU's budget for 2014-2020, also known as the multiannual framework. MEPs have indicated that a final deal on cohesion policy will be possible only when there is an agreement on all elements of future EU financing, including financial regulations and the long-term budget.