Procedure : 2008/2183(INI)
Document stages in plenary
Document selected : A6-0108/2009

Texts tabled :

A6-0108/2009

Debates :

PV 24/03/2009 - 3
CRE 24/03/2009 - 3

Votes :

PV 24/03/2009 - 4.20
Explanations of votes
Explanations of votes

Texts adopted :

P6_TA(2009)0165

REPORT     
PDF 174kWORD 133k
26.2.2009
PE 414.264v02-00 A6-0108/2009

on the implementation of the Structural Funds Regulation 2007 - 2013: the results of the negotiations on the national cohesion strategies and the operational programmes

(2008/2183(INI))

Committee on Regional Development

Rapporteur: Miroslav Mikolášik

MOTION FOR A EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT RESOLUTION
 EXPLANATORY STATEMENT
 OPINION of the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy
 OPINION of the Committee on Women's Rights and Gender Equality
 RESULT OF FINAL VOTE IN COMMITTEE

MOTION FOR A EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT RESOLUTION

on the implementation of the Structural Funds Regulation 2007 - 2013: the results of the negotiations on the national cohesion strategies and the operational programmes

(2008/2183(INI))

The European Parliament,

- having regard to the Treaty establishing the European Community,

- having regard to Article 2 and Article 3(2) of the EC Treaty,

- having regard to the Commission's Communication of 14 May 2008 on the results of the negotiations concerning cohesion policy strategies and programmes for the programming period 2007 -2013 (COM(2008)0301),

- having regard to Council Regulation (EC) No 1083/2006 of 11 July 2006 laying down general provisions on the European Regional Development Fund, the European Social Fund and the Cohesion Fund(1) (General Regulation on the ERDF, the ESF and the Cohesion Fund),

- having regard to Council Decision 2006/702/EC of 6 October 2006 on Community strategic guidelines on cohesion(2) (Strategic guidelines on cohesion),

- having regard to the Results of the negotiation of Cohesion Policy strategies and programmes 2007 - 2013 - Fact sheets by Member State,

- having regard to the Fourth Report on Economic and Social Cohesion (COM(2007)0273) (The Fourth Cohesion Report),

- having regard to the proposal for a Council regulation amending Regulation (EC) No 1083/2006 on the European Regional Development Fund, the European Social Fund and the Cohesion Fund concerning certain provisions relating to financial management (COM(2008)0803),

- having regard to the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Regulation (EC) No 1080/2006 on the European Regional Development Fund as regards the eligibility of energy efficiency and renewable energy investments in housing (COM(2008)0838),

- having regard to the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Regulation (EC) No 1081/2006 on the European Social Fund to extend the types of costs eligible for a contribution from the ESF (COM(2008)0813),

- having regard to its resolution of 21 October 2008 on governance and partnership at national and regional levels and a basis for projects in the sphere of regional policy(3),

- having regard to Rule 45 of its Rules of Procedure,

- having regard to the report of the Committee on Regional Development and the opinions of the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy and the Committee on Women's Rights and Gender Equality (A6‑0108/2009),

A.  whereas the Commission has published abovementioned Communication on the basis of the results of negotiations with Member States on the National Strategic Reference Frameworks and Operational Programmes,

B.   whereas, according to Article 158 of the Treaty, in order to strengthen its economic and social cohesion, the Community aims at reducing disparities between the levels of development of the various regions and the backwardness of the least favoured regions or islands, including rural areas,

C.  whereas the last two enlargements of the European Union generated a substantial widening of regional disparities in the Community that need to be addressed appropriately in order to promote harmonious, balanced and sustainable development,

D.  whereas the recent reports on cohesion highlight a trend towards a worsening of territorial disparities between EU regions and, at sub-regional level, disparities characterised by phenomena such as spatial segregation, which have resulted in the emergence of a certain kind of ghettoisation, and the continued decline of some remote and predominantly agricultural areas,

E.   whereas in October 2006 the Council adopted abovementioned Strategic guidelines on cohesion, as an indicative framework for the Members States for the preparation of the National Strategic Reference Frameworks and Operational Programmes for the period 2007 - 2013,

F.   whereas the three priorities laid down in the Strategic guidelines on cohesion refer to making Europe and its regions more attractive places in which to invest and work, improving knowledge and innovation for growth and creating more and better jobs,

G.  whereas translating these priorities into operational programmes should enable regions to face the challenges of globalisation, structural, demographic and climate change and to strengthen sustainable development,

H.  whereas there are significant differences in the ways Member States have implemented the abovementioned priorities in their operational programmes, depending on which regional development objective, convergence or regional competitiveness and employment any specific region comes under,

I.   whereas Member States which joined the Union before 1 May 2004 were required by the General Regulation on the ERDF, the ESF and the Cohesion Fund to earmark 60% of the total expenditure for the 'convergence' objective and 75% for the regional competitiveness and employment objective to priorities related to the Lisbon Strategy, and whereas Member States which joined the Union on or after 1 May 2004 were advised to adopt the same approach,

J.    whereas sustainability, prevention of any kind of discrimination, good governance and application of the partnership principle, together with a strong institutional and administrative capacity, are essential to the successful implementation of cohesion policy,

K.  whereas cohesion policy must be strong and flexible enough to be able to play an important role in the Union's efforts to counteract the effects of the present global economic crisis,

1.   Acknowledges the efforts made by all Member States to incorporate the three priorities laid down in the Strategic guidelines on cohesion, which correspond to the objectives of the Lisbon agenda, into their operational programmes;

2.   Notes the fairly slow start made to the new programming period in many Member States, which might jeopardises the effective use of the funding; expresses, however, the confidence that commitments made during the negotiation and approval process of operational programmes will be respected for the benefit of the regions and of the Union as a whole;

Mitigating regional disparities

3.   Takes note of the determination of Member States to address the specific territorial needs arising from their geographical location and economical and institutional development, by drawing up strategies to diminish intra-regional and inter-regional imbalances; recalls, in this context, the measures proposed by Member States to face particular development challenges of regions with specific geographical features, such as mountain regions, islands, the outermost regions, remote border towns, regions suffering from depopulation and border regions; reiterates the fact that economic and environmentally sound development, as well as the reduction of regional disparities remain the principal goals of EU regional policy;

4.   Stresses that past experience has shown that convergence between countries may mask a widening gap between and within regions; notes furthermore that these regional and local disparities can be observed in a number of areas, such as employment, productivity, income, education levels and innovation capacity; stresses the importance of the territorial dimension of cohesion in overcoming these problems;

Cohesion policy delivering the Lisbon agenda

5.   Appreciates the efforts made by the national authorities to ensure that the average allocation of expenditure for the achievement of the Lisbon agenda constitutes 65% of the available funds in the convergence regions and 82% in the regional competitiveness and employment regions, which is in fact more than was initially requested;

6.   Is convinced that much more investment is required in this area; considers that, in the light of the mid-term review of the implementation of the Structural Funds, stronger EU guidelines and increased financial resources must be allocated to serve these objectives and specifically that at least 5% of structural funding should be required to be spent on improving the energy efficiency of existing homes; in this respect, calls on the Commission to follow up on the Conclusions of the Competitiveness Council of 9 and 10 October 2008 on energy efficiency; underlines the key role and development potential that renewable energies represent for EU regions, both to create jobs and to foster sustainable local development;

7.   Encourages regions in their efforts to achieve the Lisbon objectives through thorough and effective implementation of their operational programmes; also calls on the Commission to closely monitor their implementation in order to ensure the translation of the objectives into practice and to inform Parliament about the problems encountered;

8.   Considers the financial resources earmarked for the trans-European energy networks insufficient, since they are vital for the completion of the internal energy market;

9.   Points to the important role played by small firms and micro-enterprises, particularly craft enterprises, in economic, social and territorial cohesion, through their important contribution they make to growth and employment; calls therefore for an active policy to support all forms of innovation in these enterprises and urges the Commission to create opportunities for mutual cooperation between businesses, the public sector, schools and universities, in order to create regional innovation clusters in the spirit of the Lisbon Strategy;

Responding to globalisation and structural change

10. Appreciates the fact that all Member States devoted a significant amount of their total financial allocations to investments in R&D and innovation, in developing a knowledge-based service economy and in promoting entrepreneurship and business-support services, as well as in assisting companies and workers to adapt to new conditions; notes that, for most of the Union's convergence regions, ensuring accessibility remains a significant problem, as they face a lack of transport infrastructure;

11. Believes that industrial policy has to be supported through the Structural Funds in order to increase the competitiveness of Member States and the Union; therefore supports the priority in the cohesion policy to unlock business potential, particularly that of SMEs;

Demographic change and more inclusive labour markets

12. Congratulates Member States on their efforts to prioritise investments aimed at increasing labour participation, ensuring equal opportunities and therefore endorsing the measures supported by the ESF and the PROGRESS programme (2007-2013), which are designed to help eliminate discrimination and improve the situation of women in the labour market; appreciates the Member States' measures aimed at improving skills, fighting poverty and social exclusion, in their programmes financed by the ESF; stresses that it is important and necessary to continue efforts to support employment in the face of the growing economic crisis, taking particular account of the special needs of people with disabilities and senior citizens at every stage in the implementation and assessment of cohesion policy;

13. Supports the 'partnership principle' implemented by the Commission in the cohesion policy and calls on the Commission to involve local and national women's organisations in its negotiation and implementation; Responding to the challenges of sustainable development, climate change and energy;

14. Considers that measures aimed at protecting the environment, combating climate change and promoting energy efficiency should be incorporated into all operational programmes and appreciates the commitments made by Member States in order to address these issues, by allocating approximately one third of the total cohesion policy budget to them; considers, however, that the specific allocations for combating climate change and promoting energy efficiency are insufficient to meet real needs;

15. Considers that the development of poles of competitiveness under the Structural Funds is essential, since they offer considerable potential for creating well paid jobs and generating growth, but also for reducing pressure on large conurbations; in this respect welcomes the continuation of the URBAN programme, taking the view that the revitalisation of urban areas and the rehabilitation of ageing urban infrastructures is required;

16. Stresses that the Structural Funds Regulations state that the Member States and the Commission shall ensure that equality between women and men and the integration of the gender perspective are promoted during the various stages of implementing the funds;

17. Calls on the Member States to inform citizens, local authorities and non-governmental and women’s organisations fully about financing possibilities, in particular as regards information on specific programmes, eligibility for co-financing from the Structural Funds, the co-financing rules, the rules on reimbursement, and where to find calls for proposals in the framework of the programming period 2007-2013;

18. Calls on the Member States to ensure that excessive administrative obstacles do not deter non-governmental organisations from applying for project-financing, in particular those dedicated to supporting women in economically disadvantaged circumstances, immigrant women, women who are members of an ethnic minority, women with disabilities, women with dependants, and women who are the victims of violence or torture;

19. Notes that there is a substantial difference between the way EU-15 and EU-12 Member States allocated resources for this field and recognises the need for the new Member States to devote significantly more resources to achieving the Union's environmental, climate and biodiversity objectives as laid down in the Community acquis;

20. Stresses the importance of consolidating capacities for cooperation and effective absorption of the funds available, using all possible means, including exchange of best practices, information campaigns, common actions, exchanges of new technology and development of partnerships, since this will contribute to the efficient implementation of the cooperation programmes under way and in particular an increase in the absorption capacity of the new Member States;

21. Considers that in times of economic crisis Member States should capitalise on the notion of achieving synergies between environmental protection and job creation stipulated in the Strategic Guidelines on Cohesion and allocate more resources into projects that promote green economy, green jobs and green innovation;

Reinforcing multi-level governance and partnership

22. Considers that multi-level governance and the partnership principle are key elements of the legitimacy of operational programmes, their transparency, and their effectiveness during the programming phase and especially during the implementation process; welcomes, therefore, the efforts made by all Member States, in accordance with their specific institutional frameworks and traditions, to strengthen the partnership principle in their programmes for the current period, in accordance with Article 11 of the General Regulation on the ERDF, the ESF and the Cohesion Fund; recommends especially to the new Members States which have little experience in building up effective partnerships to consistently reinforce the partnership and transparency principle while implementing the operational programmes;

23. Calls on the Member States to avoid excessive delay in the reimbursement of the costs of completed projects, noting that the insolvency caused by such a practice frequently prevents the recipients - mainly local authorities and non-profit-making organisations - from pursuing further activities specific to their area of action;

24. Points out that the delays in implementing structural policy are due in part to the excessive rigidity of procedures and that these procedures should therefore be streamlined, introducing a clear division of responsibilities and competences between the EU, the Member States and regional and local authorities;

25. Calls on the Member States to closely cooperate with the regional and local authorities already during the planning phase of the National Strategic Reference Frameworks in order to guarantee optimal implementation of the national strategies and to fully live up to the ideals behind multi-level government;

26. Stresses the need to promote cooperation between the private and public sectors in the form of public-private partnerships to make it possible to carry out many key projects to boost the effects of investment;

27. Notes that an assessment is required of the coordination and complementarity of Structural Fund programmes with rural development programmes; notes that experience on the ground indicates that synergies between the two programmes are not being exploited sufficiently;

Building institutional capacities

28. Appreciates the increased awareness of the importance of reinforcing institutional and administrative capacity for the effective implementation of public policies and for the management of EU funds; calls for substantial efforts to be made, in all convergence regions, to strengthen institutional capacity and to increase the professionalism of public authorities;

29. Stresses the need also to aim cohesion policy at rural areas, since territorial cohesion can only be achieved by developing an urban/rural balance;

Mainstreaming successful policies, enhancing knowledge and spreading good practices

30. Particularly appreciates the integration by the new Member States of the results of the URBAN and EQUAL Community Initiatives into the operational programmes for the 2007 - 2013 period; approves the efforts made by Member States to put in place integrated plans for sustainable urban development, as towns and cities are the seats of industries, responsible for economic growth and job creation; furthermore, considers that the full potential of the European Territorial Cooperation programmes, as well as the Jessica, Jaspers, Jeremie and Jasmine instruments, should be exploited in order to speed-up development and achieve higher growth rates;

31. Calls on the Member States to take account of the impact on women and the gender dimension in relation to all Structural Fund projects;

Conclusions

32. Considers that no value judgements can be made regarding the way Member States have decided to implement the framework provided by the Strategic guidelines on cohesion in drawing up their national strategic reference frameworks and operational programmes; appreciates that all Member States have made considerable efforts, at all stages, to achieve cohesion policy priorities, in the context of their specific needs and constraints;

33. Considers that transparency in the allocation of funding and administrative simplification facilitating the access of potential beneficiaries of the Structural Funds to information are key preconditions for achieving the overall objectives of cohesion policy;

34. Calls on the Member States to strengthen the procedures they put in place in order to ensure that a fully operational integrated approach is applied for the implementation of cohesion policy, thus ensuring that all aspects of any particular operational programme are duly considered;

35. Encourages the Commission in its efforts to ensure that Member States operate efficient control systems in order to be able to apply sound financial management to Community expenditure;

36. Notes that the current global economic crisis has created a new situation in all Member States that requires re-evaluation and the possible adaptation of investment priorities; welcomes the Commission's abovementioned proposals for amending the Regulations in order to meet the needs of the Union in these exceptional circumstances and reiterates its view that cohesion policy is central to economic recovery, throughout the whole of the territory of the Union; consequently rejects any attempt to renationalise the policy;

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

(1)

OJ L 210, 31.7.2006, p. 25.

(2)

OJ L 291, 21.10.2006, p. 11.

(3)

Texts adopted, P6_TA(2008)0492.


EXPLANATORY STATEMENT

Introduction

In many European policy areas, implementation reports are limited to undertaking a legislative audit of the transposition of European Union legislation into national law. This is frequently done by a process of sampling both the legislation concerned and the Member States targeted by the report. In the case of Structural Funds, this approach is not possible at present, the legislation governing this area being either directly applicable Regulations, or falling under the assent procedure(1). Implementation measures issued by the European Commission in the form of Commission Decisions are neither submitted to Parliament, nor to the Council. This situation may however change with the entering into force of the Lisbon Treaty or its equivalent.

General background

Throughout this legislature and in harmony with the European Commission and the Council, the European Parliament has stressed the need to invest the major part of the available regional development funds in actions to assist those Member States and regions lagging behind in terms of economic, social, and environmental development. However, it gave at least equal importance to ensuring that resources are also made available to assist all European regions and especially the more prosperous ones to finance research and development activities, formation of high technology - based service economies, business-support services in order for the Union to achieve the ambitions laid down in Lisbon and Gothenburg agendas. In Parliament's view, it would have been counterproductive to limit actions under this policy to the poorer Member States. Regional development policy is the one policy area where its results are seen and felt by every European citizen in the immediate vicinity and for being successful, must be present in all Member States, without distinction.

With this in view, and over the five year period, the Parliament has identified strategic actions which it wants to see implemented in Member States. Among these are:

Ø Measures to improve the urban environment with particular regard to urban transport and measures to combat CO2 emissions, the control of urban sprawl and the availability of good affordable housing and open spaces;

Ø Measures to ensure polycentric development;

Ø Measures to improve the living conditions and integration of minority groups with particular regard to the Roma;

Ø Measures to ensure the dissemination and sharing of good practices;

Ø Measures to adapt local economies and environments to face the challenge of climate change;

Ø The systematic adoption and implementation of the integrated approach to strategic planning and project implementation;

Ø Encouraging the involvement of the private sector in the realisation of projects, the importance of public/private partnerships;

Ø The important role of regional and local authorities in drawing up and preparing the National strategic frameworks.

The aim of this report is to show the way in which the Member States have understood and followed the 2006 Community Strategic Guidelines on Cohesion, when drawing up their National Strategic Reference Frameworks and concomitant Operational Programmes adapted to meet their specific constraints and requirements.

The implementation of strategies and Operational Programmes for the 2007 - 2013 programming period has just begun. The European Commission having finished the approval procedure of Operational Programmes in June 2008, it is only now that the new projects are beginning to take shape and it will take at least a year before any real advances in their implementation can be assessed. Consequently, this report is of necessity limited in its scope and aims to identify how, and to what extent the Community priorities stated by the Strategic Guidelines on cohesion have been taken into account by Member States and regions in the preparation and drawing up of the Operational Programmes, which govern the implementation of regional development policy for the whole programming period. A real analysis of Operational Programmes' implementation process itself can be made only when the Member States will provide their reports containing information on the contribution of the programmes co-financed by the Funds towards implementing the objectives of cohesion policy, fulfilling the tasks of the Funds, implementing the priorities detailed in the Community Strategic Guidelines on Cohesion and achieving the objective of promoting competitiveness and job creation, as required by Art. 29 of the General Regulation.

The European Commission's Communication on the results of the negotiations concerning cohesion policy strategies and programmes for the programming period, allows us to have an insight into how the new generation of regional cohesion policy programmes will use the € 347 billion(2) which have been allocated to the policy for the seven year period.

Core assessments

In accordance with the basic principle of solidarity, which is the corner stone of Cohesion policy, the principal aim remains to "reduce disparities between Member States, Regions and individuals, in terms of standards of living and levels of opportunity and to promote economic, social and territorial cohesion against the backdrop of the global economy.(3)"

That said, during the 2007 - 2013 programming period, strategic policy design shows that all Member States, including those which joined recently, have made a concerted effort to gear policy and investments to achieving the Lisbon and Gothenburg objectives. Thus, we see that the Convergence regions have earmarked the allocation of 65% of resources and Regional Competitiveness regions and countries 82% of resources, (70% of the total resources) to the priorities of the Lisbon agenda. In fact, these allocations are bigger than the ones initially required by Art. 9 of the General Regulation (60% of the expenditure for the Convergence objective and 75% of the expenditure for the Regional competitiveness and employment objective). This shows both recognition of the fact that policies related to the Lisbon agenda have the potential to ensure a comparative advantage for the European economy in a more and more globalized environment and a remarkable commitment on the part of the less developed countries and regions, which have understood the need to address the problems of competitiveness, innovation and dynamism as a priority.

Adapting our economies, indeed our lifestyles, to meet the challenges of globalisation and climate change is a need which will influence regional development policy for the foreseeable future. Advances in these areas require resources for research and innovation, entrepreneurship, energy efficiency and specific funds devoted to combating the effect of climate change. Your Rapporteur was pleased to note that over € 100 billion will be invested in protecting the environment, but at the same time considers that the allocations for energy efficiency and renewable energies (9 billion), on the one hand, and for measures to combat climate change (48 billion), on the other hand, are less than are required. At a time when the planet is already behaving erratically and whole regions of the world suffer from unexpected flooding and worsening drought, the advances made during these seven crucial years will not only determine all our futures, but also which economic region will dominate the new industries and emerging economic activities of the 21st Century.

Other important issues, which the report addresses, in accordance with cohesion policy priorities, are measures to:

Ø increase employment levels, ;

Ø promote a more flexible labour market;

Ø promote socially inclusive societies and combat poverty;

Ø underline the necessity for good governance, and reinforced institutional capacities, where necessary, for the implementation of the Operational Programmes;

Ø the mainstreaming of successful community initiatives;

Ø developing the knowledge society and the sharing good practices.

Conclusions

The working hypothesis of the Rapporteur, namely that the general priorities of cohesion policy have been adhered to by all Member States while drawing up and negotiating the Operational Programmes, has been shown to be true. Clearly, all Member States have adhered to Community's objectives, which they translated into their own priorities, in accordance with the constraints imposed by their particular level of economic and territorial development.

This report comes at an unprecedented time of economic upheaval. Millions of European tax payers are being asked to pay billions of Euros to refinance the monetary systems of Europe, Britain, France Spain, Germany and Italy are either already in recession or on the way there. Whilst it is not the rapporteur's intention to discuss the major economic crisis in this report, he would like to welcome the revisions of the legislative framework, in order to ensure that cohesion policy is a strong instrument, able to promote continuous, balanced sustainable development, even in a period of unexpected economic shocks. The European Commission has submitted proposals to Parliament aimed at arming cohesion policy with the means to play a central role in Europe's efforts to face this unparalleled challenge and undoubtedly methods, programmes and rules will be adapted to needs. That is why, it is even more important to look in detail at what has been planned, at what Member States and Regions identified as being of prime importance to them under the conditions prevailing at the beginning of this programming period and see if and how the Union's actions reflect reality.

Because of the Union's demographic concentration in urban agglomerations, and the key position towns and cities occupy in the Union's economic performance, the urban dimension of Operational Programmes to be implemented in the 2007 - 2013 period is central to its strategy for attaining the Lisbon and Gothenburg objectives. In its working document of 14 November, the Commission tells us that more than half of ERDF programmes examined in the period of reference have an urban dimension. Operational Programmes aimed at inner city renovation, energy conservation, developing energy efficient and clean urban transport systems will simultaneously protect and improve the environment and stimulate economic activity and job creation. We are all aware of the inevitability of the post industrial revolution which has come with its constraints and challenges, but also with its advantages and promises. It is in recognising the positive aspects of those challenges and incorporating them into every aspect of our Operational Programmes' implementation, that the economic and social fabric of our Union will be pre-eminent.

Of course, research and development hold the key to the discovery of new technologies capable of exploiting renewable natural resources to produce pollution free energy and supply us with the means to maintain and enhance our standard of living and crucially our position as an economic and political world power.

Present world events highlight the need for effective control systems to protect, in so far as is possible, public expenditure against fraud and malpractice. Given the reputation the financial world has obtained in recent weeks, the management of European Funds must be clear and transparent. However, it would be erroneous to clamp down on procedures and methods slowing up even further an already cumbersome system. The need to simplify procedures and speed up implementation has been recognised by all concerned and Parliament is at present seized of legislative proposals and communications from the European Commission changing many of the legislative dispositions with precisely the purpose of simplifying and accelerating the implementation of Cohesion policy. Let us hope that our efforts will meet with success.

(1)

see Council Regulation (EC)No 1083/2006 laying down general provisions on the European Regional Development Fund, the European Social Fund and the Cohesion Fund and repealing Regulation (Ec) No 1260/1999

(2)

This is now the second largest item in the Community budget.

(3)

Source European Commission COM(2008)301 final


OPINION of the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy (21.1.2009)

for the Committee on Regional Development

on the implementation of the Structural Funds Regulation 2007-2013: the results of the negotiations on the national cohesion strategies and the operational programmes

(2008/2183(INI))

Rapporteur: Atanas Paparizov

SUGGESTIONS

The Committee on Industry, Research and Energy calls on the Committee on Regional Development, as the committee responsible, to incorporate the following suggestions in its motion for a resolution:

1.  Welcomes the strong link between the new cohesion policy for 2007-2013 and the Lisbon agenda; notes with satisfaction that of the EUR 347 billion reserved for cohesion policy, more than 65% is "earmarked" for Lisbon-related expenditure, such as innovation, research and human capital;

2.  Welcomes the fact that Member States have prioritised investments in research and development (R&D) and innovation, leading to a total amount of EUR 86 billion; stresses the importance of the regional dimension for innovation; welcomes the fact that more than half of the total amount will be invested in improving the innovative capacity of businesses;

3.   Expresses serious concern about the relatively limited amount of funds reserved for actions to tackle climate change and to improve energy efficiency and renewable energies; is convinced that much more investment is required in this area; considers that, in the light of the mid-term review of the implementation of the Structural Funds, stronger EU guidelines and increased financial resources must be allocated to serve these objectives and specifically that at least 5% of structural funding should be required to be spent on improving the energy efficiency of existing homes; in this respect, calls on the Commission to follow up on the Conclusions of the Competitiveness Council of 9 and 10 October 2008 on energy efficiency; underlines the key role and development potential that renewable energies represent for EU regions, both to create jobs and to foster sustainable local development; calls on the Commission to consider all possibilities to finance the construction of up to 12 demonstration plants with carbon capture and storage by 2015 and to present its proposals timeously;

4.  Considers the financial resources earmarked for the trans-European energy networks insufficient, since they are vital for the completion of the internal energy market;

5.  Believes that industrial policy has to be supported through the Structural Funds in order to increase the competitiveness of Member States and the EU; therefore, supports the priority in the cohesion policy to unlock business potential, particularly that of SMEs;

6.  Stresses the need to take into account the specific need of new Member States to invest in basic infrastructural development as a prerequisite for reaching the Lisbon goals;

7.   Considers that the development of poles of competitiveness under the Structural Funds is essential, since they offer considerable potential for creating well-paid jobs and generating growth, but also for reducing pressure on large conurbations; in this respect welcomes the continuation of the URBAN programme, taking the view that the revitalisation of urban areas and the rehabilitation of ageing urban infrastructures are required;

8.   Stresses the importance of consolidating capacities for cooperation and effective absorption of the funds available, using all possible means, including exchange of best practices, information campaigns, common actions, exchanges of new technology and development of partnerships, since this will contribute to the efficient implementation of the cooperation programmes under way and in particular an increase in the absorption capacity of the new Member States;

9.   Stresses the importance of devising and applying special programmes in regions where the dominant industrial activities are in decline, with a view to supporting economic reconstruction activities that are liable to significantly increase the weight of the tertiary sector in the economy;

10. Stresses the need also to target cohesion policy on rural areas, since territorial cohesion can only be achieved by developing an urban/rural balance;

11. Believes that population issues represent a key challenge for the Member States, in the context, for the great majority of them, of a declining and ageing population; stresses that this aspect is not dealt with sufficiently in the Commission communication COM(2008)0301;

12. Considers that transparency in the allocation of funding and administrative simplification facilitating the access of potential beneficiaries of the Funds to information are key preconditions for achieving the overall objectives of cohesion policy.

RESULT OF FINAL VOTE IN COMMITTEE

Date adopted

20.1.2009

 

 

 

Result of final vote

+:

–:

0:

46

1

0

Members present for the final vote

Šarūnas Birutis, Jan Březina, Jerzy Buzek, Jorgo Chatzimarkakis, Giles Chichester, Dragoş Florin David, Den Dover, Lena Ek, Nicole Fontaine, Adam Gierek, Norbert Glante, Fiona Hall, Erna Hennicot-Schoepges, Mary Honeyball, Ján Hudacký, Romana Jordan Cizelj, Werner Langen, Anne Laperrouze, Pia Elda Locatelli, Patrick Louis, Eluned Morgan, Angelika Niebler, Atanas Paparizov, Aldo Patriciello, Francisca Pleguezuelos Aguilar, Anni Podimata, Miloslav Ransdorf, Vladimír Remek, Herbert Reul, Teresa Riera Madurell, Mechtild Rothe, Paul Rübig, Patrizia Toia, Catherine Trautmann, Claude Turmes, Nikolaos Vakalis, Alejo Vidal-Quadras, Dominique Vlasto

Substitute(s) present for the final vote

Pilar Ayuso, Juan Fraile Cantón, Matthias Groote, Françoise Grossetête, Edit Herczog, Vittorio Prodi, Esko Seppänen, Silvia-Adriana Ţicău, Vladimir Urutchev


OPINION of the Committee on Women's Rights and Gender Equality (10.11.2008)

for the Committee on Regional Development

on The implementation of the Structural Funds Regulation 2007 - 2013: the results of the negotiations on the national cohesion strategies and the operational programmes

(2008/2183(INI))

Rapporteur: Zita Pleštinská

SUGGESTIONS

The Committee on Women's Rights and Gender Equality calls on the Committee on Regional Development, as the committee responsible, to incorporate the following suggestions in its motion for a resolution:

- having regard to Article 2 and Article 3(2) of the EC Treaty,

1.  Supports the continued aim of the new programmes to remove barriers to employment, in particular for women, and in particular those affecting people in rural areas, young persons, people with disabilities, elderly people and low-skilled workers, and notes that the objective to increase the employment rate for women is far from being achieved;

2.  Stresses that the Structural Funds regulations state that the Member States and the Commission shall ensure that equality between women and men and the integration of the gender perspective are promoted during the various stages of implementing the funds;

3.  Calls for operational programmes to respect the principles of gender mainstreaming, tackling discrimination and promoting equal treatment pay and opportunities for women and men in the workplace and society as a whole by promoting female entrepreneurship in particular, facilitating women's participation in decision-making processes, and boosting women's presence in the scientific, academic and technological spheres, launching campaigns to raise awareness among the general public, exchanging good practices, and conducting an ongoing dialogue with citizens;

4.  Supports the measures promoted by the European Social Fund and the PROGRESS programme for 2007-2013, which improve the situation of women in the labour market and help eliminate discrimination;

5.  Emphasises that, in order to guarantee the necessary conditions for an equitable participation of women and men in the private and public spheres and, at the same time, confront the demographic challenge, those programmes should also focus on reconciling family and professional life; points out that it is necessary to improve the availability, quality and accessibility of childcare services and care services for dependent persons, elderly people, the chronically ill people, and people with disabilities, in line with the Barcelona objectives;

6.  Supports the 'partnership principle' implemented by the Commission in the cohesion policy and calls on the Commission to involve local and national women's organisations in its negotiation and implementation;

7.  Calls on the Member States to inform citizens, local authorities and non-governmental and women’s organisations fully about financing possibilities, in particular as regards information on specific programmes, eligibility for co-financing from the structural funds, the co-financing rules, the rules on reimbursement, and where to find calls for proposals in the framework of the new programming period 2007-2013;

8.  Calls on the Member States to ensure that excessive administrative obstacles do not deter non-governmental organisations from applying for project-financing, in particular those dedicated to supporting women in economically disadvantaged circumstances, immigrant women, women who are members of an ethnic minority, women with disabilities, women with dependents, and women who are the victims of violence or torture;

9.  Calls on the Member States to avoid excessive delay in the reimbursement of the costs of completed projects, noting that the insolvency caused by such a practice frequently prevents the recipients - mainly local authorities and non-profit-making organisations - from pursuing further activities specific to their area of action;

10. Calls on the Member States, in the context of the planning and implementation of strategic projects, to take account of the needs of women, families, particularly single-parent and large families, people with disabilities and vulnerable groups in geographically and socially disadvantaged regions, as appropriate;

11. Calls on the Member States to take account of the impact on women and the gender dimension in relation to all Structural Fund projects.

RESULT OF FINAL VOTE IN COMMITTEE

Date adopted

6.11.2008

 

 

 

Result of final vote

+:

–:

0:

27

0

0

Members present for the final vote

Emine Bozkurt, Věra Flasarová, Claire Gibault, Lissy Gröner, Zita Gurmai, Rodi Kratsa-Tsagaropoulou, Urszula Krupa, Roselyne Lefrançois, Astrid Lulling, Siiri Oviir, Marie Panayotopoulos-Cassiotou, Zita Pleštinská, Anni Podimata, Raül Romeva i Rueda, Eva-Britt Svensson, Britta Thomsen, Anne Van Lancker, Anna Záborská, Iva Zanicchi

Substitute(s) present for the final vote

Lena Ek, Iratxe García Pérez, Donata Gottardi, Mary Honeyball, Christa Klaß, Ria Oomen-Ruijten, Maria Petre

Substitute(s) under Rule 178(2) present for the final vote

Inger Segelström


RESULT OF FINAL VOTE IN COMMITTEE

Date adopted

12.2.2009

 

 

 

Result of final vote

+:

–:

0:

48

2

3

Members present for the final vote

Emmanouil Angelakas, Stavros Arnaoutakis, Elspeth Attwooll, Rolf Berend, Jana Bobošíková, Victor Boştinaru, Wolfgang Bulfon, Giorgio Carollo, Bairbre de Brún, Gerardo Galeote, Iratxe García Pérez, Monica Giuntini, Ambroise Guellec, Pedro Guerreiro, Gábor Harangozó, Filiz Hakaeva Hyusmenova, Mieczysław Edmund Janowski, Gisela Kallenbach, Evgeni Kirilov, Miloš Koterec, Constanze Angela Krehl, Florencio Luque Aguilar, Jamila Madeira, Miguel Angel Martínez Martínez, Iosif Matula, Miroslav Mikolášik, Lambert van Nistelrooij, Jan Olbrycht, Maria Petre, Markus Pieper, Giovanni Robusti, Wojciech Roszkowski, Catherine Stihler, Margie Sudre, Oldřich Vlasák

Substitute(s) present for the final vote

Domenico Antonio Basile, Jan Březina, Den Dover, Emanuel Jardim Fernandes, Lidia Joanna Geringer de Oedenberg, Stanisław Jałowiecki, Zita Pleštinská, Samuli Pohjamo, Christa Prets, Miloslav Ransdorf, Flaviu Călin Rus, Richard Seeber, László Surján, Nikolaos Vakalis, Iuliu Winkler

Substitute(s) under Rule 178(2) present for the final vote

Wolf Klinz, Sepp Kusstatscher, Toine Manders

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