Procedure : 2015/2052(INI)
Document stages in plenary
Document selected : A8-0268/2015

Texts tabled :

A8-0268/2015

Debates :

PV 27/10/2015 - 14
CRE 27/10/2015 - 14

Votes :

PV 28/10/2015 - 7.11
CRE 28/10/2015 - 7.11
Explanations of votes

Texts adopted :

P8_TA(2015)0385

REPORT     
PDF 181kWORD 114k
29.9.2015
PE 552.059v03-00 A8-0268/2015

on the European Structural and Investment Funds and sound economic governance: guidelines for the implementation of Article 23 of the Common Provisions Regulation

(2015/2052(INI))

Committee on Regional Development

Rapporteur: José Blanco López

AMENDMENTS
MOTION FOR A EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT RESOLUTION
 EXPLANATORY STATEMENT
 OPINION of the Committee on Budgets
 OPINION of the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs
 RESULT OF FINAL VOTE IN COMMITTEE

MOTION FOR A EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT RESOLUTION

on the European Structural and Investment Funds and sound economic governance: guidelines for the implementation of Article 23 of the Common Provisions Regulation

(2015/2052(INI))

The European Parliament,

  having regard to the Commission communication on the guidelines on the application of the measures linking effectiveness of the European Structural and Investment Funds to sound economic governance according to Article 23 of Regulation (EU) 1303/2013 (COM(2014)0494) (hereinafter ‘the Guidelines’),

–  having regard to the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) and in particular Articles 4, 162 and 174 to 178 and 349 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 CPR’)(1),

–  having regard to the Commission’s statement on Article 23, included in the Statements relating 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(2),

–  having regard to its resolution of 8 October 2013 on effects of budgetary constraints for regional and local authorities regarding the EU’s Structural Funds expenditure in the Member States(3),

–  having regard to its resolution of 20 May 2010 on the contribution of the Cohesion policy to the achievement of Lisbon and the EU2020 objectives(4),

–  having regard to its resolution of 26 February 2014 on the Commission’s 7th and 8th progress reports on the EU Cohesion Policy and the Strategic Report 2013 on programme implementation 2007-2013(5),

–  having regard to its resolution of 22 October 2014 on the European Semester for economic policy coordination: implementation of 2014 priorities(6),

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

–  having regard to the Commission’s Cohesion policy strategic report 2013 on programme implementation 2007-2013, of 18 April 2013 (COM(2013)0210),

–  having regard to the opinion of the Committee of the Regions of 12 February 2015 on the guidelines on the application of the measures linking the effectiveness of the European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) to sound economic governance,

–  having regard to Parliament’s study of January 2014 entitled ‘European Economic Governance and Cohesion Policy’ (Directorate-General for Internal Policies, Department B: Structural and Cohesion Policies),

–  having regard to Parliament’s briefing of December 2014 entitled ‘The European Structural and Investment Funds and sound economic governance: guidelines for the implementation of Article 23 of the Common Provisions Regulation’ (Directorate-General for Internal Policies, Department B: Structural and Cohesion Policies),

–  having regard to Rule 52 of its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Regional Development and the opinions of the Committee on Budgets and the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs (A8-0268/2015),

A.  whereas cohesion policy is a TFEU-based policy and an expression of European solidarity, aimed at strengthening economic, social and territorial cohesion in the EU, and in particular at reducing disparities between regions, promoting a balanced and harmonious socio-economic development; whereas it is also an investment policy contributing to achieving the goals of the Europe 2020 strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth;

B.  whereas the current legislative framework for cohesion policy, while establishing links with the EU strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth, the European Semester and the Europe 2020 Integrated Guidelines, as well as with the relevant country-specific recommendations (CSRs) and Council recommendations, is nevertheless subject to very specific missions, objectives and horizontal principles;

C.  whereas the current legal framework of the European Structural and Investment Funds (ESI Funds) aims to reinforce coordination, complementarity and synergies with other EU policies and instruments;

D.  whereas there is evidence that good governance and efficient public institutions are essential for sustainable and long-term economic growth, job creation and social and territorial development, although less evidence is available about the macroeconomic factors which affect the way cohesion policy operates;

E.  whereas economic and financial unpredictability and legal uncertainty may result in decreasing levels of public and private investment, putting at risk the achievement of the goals of cohesion policy;

F.  whereas the Guidelines concern the first strand of measures linking the effectiveness of the ESI Funds to sound economic governance under Article 23 CPR; whereas this relates to a reprogramming and a suspension of payments which are not compulsory, unlike the second strand of Article 23 CPR, which requires the suspension of commitments or payments where Member States fail to take corrective action in the context of the economic governance process;

G.  whereas the Member States’ track record of implementing the CSRs is low, on the evidence of the Commission’s assessments of implementation progress concerning the 279 CSRs issued in 2012 and 2013, showing that 28 CSRs had been fully addressed or showed substantial progress (10 %) and 136 (48.7 %) had achieved some progress, but for 115 (41.2 %) limited progress or no progress was recorded;

Linking effectiveness of the ESI Funds to sound economic governance

1.  Emphasises the importance of cohesion policy instruments and resources in maintaining the level of European added-value investment in Member States and regions for enhancing job creation and improving socio-economic conditions, especially where investment has fallen significantly owing to the economic and financial crisis;

2.  Believes that the achievement of the ESI Funds’ policy objectives and goals should not be hindered by the economic governance mechanisms, while acknowledging their relevance in contributing to a stable macroeconomic environment and an efficient, effective and result-oriented cohesion policy;

3.  Considers that Article 23 of the CPR must only be used as a last resort to contribute to an efficient implementation of the ESI Funds;

4.  Emphasises the multiannual and long-term nature of programmes and objectives under the ESI Funds, as opposed to the annual cycle of the European Semester; in this context, points out the need to ensure the clarity of the mechanisms for implementation of the latter, and calls for close coordination between these two processes and between the bodies responsible for their respective implementation;

5.  Stresses the need for the Commission to submit a white paper taking account of the effects of public investment in the long term and establishing a typology of quality investments, so that those which produce best effects in the long term can be clearly identified;

6.  Recalls that cohesion policy has played a vital role and has shown significant responsiveness to macroeconomic and fiscal constraints in the context of the current crisis, through the reprogramming of more than 11 % of the available budget between 2007 and 2012, in order to support the most pressing needs and strengthen certain interventions; stresses, in this connection, that in several Member States cohesion policy represented more than 80 % of public investment over the period 2007-2013;

7.  Asks the Commission to provide further analytical data on the impact and significance of the macroeconomic mechanisms for regional development, for the effectiveness of cohesion policy and for the interaction between the European economic governance framework and cohesion policy, and to provide specific information on how cohesion policy contributes to the relevant CSRs and Council recommendations;

8.  Calls on Member States to make best use of the flexibility existing under the rules of the Stability and Growth Pact;

Reprogramming under Article 23 CPR

General considerations

9.  Recalls that any decision regarding reprogramming or suspension under Article 23 CPR must only be used in exceptional situations, and must be well-weighed, thoroughly justified and implemented in a cautious fashion, with indication of the programmes or priorities concerned in order to ensure transparency and allow for verification and review; emphasises, moreover, that such decisions should not increase the difficulties that regions and Member States face as a result of the socio-economic environment or of their geographical location and specificities in the sense of Articles 174 and 349 TFEU;

10.  Considers that the partnership agreements and programmes adopted in the current programming period have taken account of the relevant CSRs and the relevant Council recommendations, ensuring good grounds for avoiding any reprogramming in the medium term unless the economic conditions should worsen substantially;

11.  Stresses that frequent reprogramming would be counter-productive and should be avoided in order not to disrupt fund management or undermine the stability and predictability of the multiannual investment strategy and to prevent any negative impacts, including on the absorption of the ESI Funds;

12.  Welcomes the cautious approach of the Commission with regard to reprogramming and its intention to keep it to the minimum necessary; calls for an ‘early warning’ approach in order to inform Member States concerned of the launching of the reprogramming procedure under Article 23 CPR, and emphasises that any reprogramming request should be preceded by consultation of the monitoring committee;

13.  Asks the Commission to carry out, in close cooperation with the Member State concerned, a comprehensive analysis of all available options other than the application of Article 23 CPR to address issues that may trigger a reprogramming request;

14.  Deplores any disproportionate increase of the administrative burden and subsequent cost for all levels of administration concerned, given the tight deadlines and the complexity of the reprogramming procedure under Article 23 CPR; warns against any overlapping of reprogramming procedures under Article 23 CPR with subsequent European semester cycles; calls on the Commission to consider the possibility of reassessing the application of the deadlines as per the review provided for in Article 23(16) CPR;

Horizontal principles under the CPR

15.  Expresses its concern that the Guidelines do not make explicit reference to the general and horizontal principles provided for in Articles 4 to 8 of the CPR, and recalls that the reading of Article 23 CPR must take account of and comply with these principles, in particular with those of partnership and multi-level governance, and with the Regulation and the Common Strategic Framework as a whole; calls on the Commission, in this context, to clarify how these principles will be specifically taken into account in the application of the provisions of Article 23 CPR;

The sub-national dimension of Article 23 CPR

16.  Emphasises that the increase in the public debt stems principally from the policies pursued by Member State governments, and is seriously concerned that the inability to properly address macroeconomic issues at national level may penalise subnational authorities and the beneficiaries of and applicants for ESI Funds;

17.  Recalls that the thematic concentration rules provided for by the 2014-2020 cohesion policy allow for a certain degree of flexibility in addressing Member States’ and regions’ needs, and notes that the application of Article 23 CPR may restrict this flexibility; recalls the need to take account of key territorial challenges, as well as the principle of subsidiarity as provided for in Article 4(3) CPR;

18.  Asks the Commission to evaluate, in close cooperation with Member States and partners as stipulated in Article 5 CPR, the impact and cost-efficiency at regional and local levels of any measures adopted under Article 23 CPR;

19.  Stresses the need for local and regional authorities to be actively involved in any reprogramming exercise, and is of the opinion that since the ESI Funds are linked to sound economic governance, the European Semester should be given a territorial dimension by also involving those authorities;

20.  Asks the Commission to read Article 23 CPR in line with the principle of proportionality, by taking into account the situation of those Member States and regions which face socio-economic difficulties and where ESI Funds represent a significant share of investment, which is even more evident in a crisis context; stresses that Member States and regions, and in particular the lagging ones, should not be further impacted;

Institutional coordination, transparency and accountability

21.  Recalls that strong institutional coordination is essential for ensuring the right policy complementarities and synergies, as well as a proper and stable interpretation of the framework of sound economic governance and its interaction with cohesion policy;

22.  Calls for an adequate flow of information between the Commission, the Council and Parliament, and for the holding of a public debate at the appropriate political level to ensure a common understanding as regards the interpretation of the conditions of application of Article 23 CPR; recalls, in this context, the need for a specific Council configuration dedicated to cohesion policy in charge of the decisions under Article 23 CPR;

23.  Considers it essential to ensure transparency and accountability by giving Parliament democratic oversight of the system of governance in the context of Article 23 CPR, which introduces important limitations in the bottom-up approach which is an important feature of cohesion policy;

Suspension of payments

24.  Recalls that the suspension of payments is a matter decided by the Council on the basis of a proposal that the Commission may adopt in the event that the Member State concerned fails to take effective action; underlines the important legal safeguards established by Article 23 CPR to ensure the exceptionality of the suspension mechanism;

25.  Emphasises the penalising nature of any suspension of payments, and asks the Commission to use its discretionary power to propose the suspension of payments with utmost caution and strictly in line with Article 23(6) CPR, after due consideration of all relevant information and elements arising from and opinions expressed through the structured dialogue;

26.  Welcomes, in the context of the criteria for determining the programmes to be suspended and the level of suspension under the first strand, the cautious approach adopted in the Guidelines whereby account will be taken of the economic and social circumstances of Member States by considering mitigating factors similar to those envisaged in the suspensions under Article 23(9) CPR;

27.  Calls on the Commission to establish a timescale for the lifting of the suspension under Article 23(8) of the CPR;

The role of Parliament in the framework of Article 23 CPR

28.  Regrets that the Guidelines do not make any reference to the role of Parliament, despite the fact that the CPR was adopted under the ordinary legislative procedure and despite the consistent calls of Parliament to reinforce democratic accountability and control in the context of economic governance;

29.  Considers that the involvement of Parliament, as the principal democratic guarantor for the correct application of Article 23(15) CPR, should be formalised by way of a clear procedure allowing Parliament to be consulted at all stages as regards the adoption of reprogramming requests or of any proposals and decisions on suspension of commitments or payments;

30.  Stresses the need for constant, clear and transparent collaboration at interinstitutional level, and considers that such a procedure should include, at least, the following steps:

  the Commission should immediately inform Parliament of the CSRs and Council recommendations that are relevant in the context of the ESI Funds, as well as of the programmes of financial assistance, or respective modifications, that may trigger a reprogramming request under Article 23(1) CPR;

  the Commission should immediately inform Parliament of any reprogramming request under Article 23(1) CPR or of any proposal for a decision suspending payments under Article 23(6) CPR, allowing Parliament to state its position in the form of a resolution before taking any further steps;

  the Commission should take into account the position expressed by Parliament and any elements arising from or opinions expressed through the structured dialogue under Article 23(15) CPR;

  the Commission should be invited by Parliament to explain whether Parliament’s opinions have been taken into consideration in the process, as well as any other follow-up given to the structured dialogue;

  the Committee of the Regions and the European Economic and Social Committee should be informed of and heard on reprogramming requests;

  Parliament, the Council and the Commission should establish a dialogue in the context of the application of Article 23 CPR, by ensuring interinstitutional coordination and a proper flow of information, allowing for the monitoring of the application of any of the procedures under Article 23 CPR;

31.  Calls on the Commission to report on the impact and results achieved in the application of Article 23 CPR, in the context of the review of its application in line with paragraph 17 of that Article, including by detailing to what extent any reprogramming request was based on the implementation of the relevant CSRs or Council recommendations or has enhanced the growth and competitiveness impact of the available ESI Funds for Member States under financial assistance programmes, as well as by providing the data on any suspended amounts and the programmes concerned;

°

°  °

32.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, and the Member States and their regions.

(1)

OJ L 347, 20.12.2013, p. 320.

(2)

OJ C 375, 20.12.2013, p. 2.

(3)

Texts adopted, P7_TA(2013)0401.

(4)

OJ C 161 E, 31.5.2011, p. 120.

(5)

Texts adopted, P7_TA(2014)0132.

(6)

Texts adopted, P8_TA (2014)0038.


EXPLANATORY STATEMENT

Introduction

The provisions on the measures linking effectiveness of ESI Funds to sound economic governance contained in Article 23 of the Common Provisions Regulation (CPR), adopted in the previous legislature are probably the most controversial aspect of that regulation.

In their report, Parliament’s co-rapporteurs on the CPR proposed that all provisions relating to macroeconomic conditionality should be deleted. Various amendments, including amendments tabled on behalf of a number of the political groups within Parliament, also sought to delete such provisions. It can therefore be said that a broad majority was against macroeconomic conditionality.

It would seem, however, that macroeconomic conditionality has in the end been included in the regulation. The outcome of the agreement concluded between Parliament, the Council and the Commission, still containing the provisions in question, would be adopted at first reading, with no possibility of a vote being taken on amendments seeking to delete them.

With this own-initiative report we cannot delete or change the provisions of Article 23 as they appear in the CPR. We can only make sure that they are applied in the most justified and balanced manner possible.

It is worth pointing out that the guidelines covered by the report refer only to the first part of Article 23 on the optional reprogramming or suspension of structural and investment funds, and not to the second part on the mandatory suspension of funds.

In drawing up the report, the rapporteur had the opportunity to exchange views with many of the shadow rapporteurs in the REGI Committee, with those responsible in the committees issuing opinions (ECON, EMPL and BUDG), and with representatives of the Committee of the Regions, the Commission, the Council, and so on.

The limits of Article 23

A broad majority of us are concerned about the practical implications of the reprogramming and suspension of ESI funding under Article 23 CPR. In this report, the rapporteur has struck a balance between the various views of the macroeconomic conditionality mechanism from the point of view of its use as a last resort within the system.

It is essential that we do not lose sight of the original role and objectives of cohesion policy and its importance as an instrument for maintaining investment in Europe’s regions, particularly in times of economic crisis and instability. While recognising the need for effective economic governance, such mechanisms should not hinder the pursuit of the broader goals of economic, social and territorial cohesion.

We must not allow regional or local authorities to be punished, via the reprogramming or suspension of funding and the resultant deterioration of their respective economic and social situations, as a result of macroeconomic failings caused at other levels of administration.

Article 23 CPR may not lead to financial uncertainty and instability, worsening an already precarious situation particularly in disadvantaged regions or those hit hardest by the crisis. We must ensure a proportionate response in order to avoid further disadvantaging regions already experiencing difficulties.

We welcome the fact that the Commission appears to agree that it is necessary to reduce the reprogramming to the strict and essential minimum and that the specific economic and social situation of the Member State in question will be taken into account in the implementation of Article 23 CPR. Any application of macroeconomic conditionality should be transparent, justified, and demonstrably beneficial to the goals of cohesion policy for the region or regions in question.

As I understand it, the sole purpose of Article 23 CPR is to achieve a more sustainable and efficient cohesion policy.

For the current programming period, cohesion policy is closely linked with the strategic goals of the Europe 2020 Strategy and economic governance mechanisms such as the European Semester. This means that in principle, the partnership agreements and programmes in place for this period should already be in line with the Union’s broader macro-economic goals making reprogramming under Article 23 CPR unnecessary in anything but the most exceptional of circumstances.

To ensure that the main objective of cohesion is not affected, a strong emphasis needs to be placed on the importance of coordination among institutions at all levels of administration in order to prevent recentralisation from calling into question multi-level governance and the partnership principle, which lie at the heart of cohesion policy.

In this regard, it will be important to gather and analyse data on the interactions between European economic governance processes and the aims and results of cohesion policy.

We must also guarantee the sub-state dimension of cohesion policy, along with the principles of subsidiarity, transparency and proportionality.

We need to ensure that regional and local authorities retain the flexibility to address their specific needs, and we must avoid a scenario whereby reprogramming under Article 23 CPR restricts their ability to act in response to challenges at their respective levels of governance.

Lastly, we need to restrict any administrative burdens and added costs that might lead to Article 23 CPR being applied.

Any reprogramming processes must be kept as simple and transparent as possible and additional complexity and uncertainty for regional and local authorities must be prevented.

The role of the European Parliament

The European Parliament needs to become the principal democratic guarantor when it comes to ensuring that the provisions on macroeconomic conditionality within the CPR are applied correctly.

Regrettably, the Commission’s guidelines do not begin to outline Parliament’s role in applying the reprogramming and suspension of funds on the basis of Article 23 CPR.

Moving beyond criticism of Article 23 CPR, this report must serve as a basis upon which to correctly determine Parliament’s involvement in reprogramming and suspension processes with a view to ensuring that the principle of macroeconomic conditionality is applied appropriately.

Parliament must take an active role in the oversight of the implementation of Article 23 CPR and this will require a constant and reliable flow of information between all stakeholders and full transparency at each stage of the process.


OPINION of the Committee on Budgets (23.6.2015)

for the Committee on Regional Development

on the European Structural and Investment Funds and sound economic governance: guidelines for the implementation of Article 23 of the Common Provisions Regulation

(2015/2052(INI))

Rapporteur: Janusz Lewandowski

SUGGESTIONS

The Committee on Budgets calls on the Committee on Regional Development, as the committee responsible, to incorporate the following suggestions into its motion for a resolution:

1.  Welcomes the clarification of the application of specific provisions of paragraphs 1 and 6 of Article 23 of Regulation (EU) No 1303/2013;

2.  Agrees that a stable macroeconomic environment, including high-quality governance at all levels, is conducive to the successful implementation of the ESI Funds;

3.  Stresses that objective criteria must be used for assessing what constitutes ‘effective action’ on the part of a Member State; underlines the importance of respecting the principles of proportionality and equality of treatment when applying the provisions of Article 23, as well as the need for a timely and comprehensive dialogue with the Member State concerned;

4.  Recalls that the National Reform Programmes (NRPs) are instrumental for delivering on the Europe 2020 Strategy at Member State level and that they should be taken into account before requesting a Member State to review and amend its Partnership Agreement and relevant programmes;

5.  Calls on the Commission to use the procedure under the first strand of Article 23 as a last resort and only in exceptional situations where the benefits of the proposed changes clearly outweigh their costs, taking into account the fact that the process of reprogramming may be expensive and difficult to manage for national administrations and local and regional authorities judging from past experience;

6.  Points out that the regions, on average, implement a third of public spending in the EU and play a key role in providing public services and expenditure leading to growth; expresses its concern about the short deadlines set for reprogramming and intends to closely monitor whether proper involvement of regional authorities and the partners specified in Article 5 of Regulation (EU) No 1303/2013 will be made possible, in line with the subsidiarity and partnership principles at the heart of cohesion policy;

7.  Warns, in particular, that any suspension of payment appropriations could disrupt financial planning at programme level and penalise initiators of projects and, more generally, undermine the predictability and planning of investments, with a potentially counterproductive impact on economically vulnerable Member States whose public finances are already in deficit and whose public investment relies more heavily on ESI funding, and also possibly cause macroeconomic instability and be detrimental to the image of the EU as a whole;

8.  Considers it regrettable that Parliament is not involved in the decision-making process regarding the reprogramming or suspension of funds; requests that the budgetary aspects of any reprogramming and suspension cases be also part of the structured dialogue with the Commission on the application of Article 23 and that this dialogue take place before the Commission adopts a proposal to suspend funding;

9.  Invites the Commission, in line with Article 23(16), to present without delay in 2017 a report reviewing the application of this article, which should include an assessment of all the budgetary aspects involved.

RESULT OF FINAL VOTE IN COMMITTEE

Date adopted

23.6.2015

 

 

 

Result of final vote

+:

–:

0:

18

7

12

Members present for the final vote

Nedzhmi Ali, Jonathan Arnott, Jean Arthuis, Richard Ashworth, Reimer Böge, Lefteris Christoforou, Jean-Paul Denanot, Gérard Deprez, José Manuel Fernandes, Eider Gardiazabal Rubial, Jens Geier, Ingeborg Gräßle, Iris Hoffmann, Monika Hohlmeier, Bernd Kölmel, Zbigniew Kuźmiuk, Vladimír Maňka, Ernest Maragall, Sophie Montel, Siegfried Mureşan, Liadh Ní Riada, Jan Olbrycht, Younous Omarjee, Paul Rübig, Patricija Šulin, Eleftherios Synadinos, Paul Tang, Isabelle Thomas, Monika Vana, Daniele Viotti, Stanisław Żółtek

Substitutes present for the final vote

Janusz Lewandowski, Nils Torvalds, Derek Vaughan, Tomáš Zdechovský

Substitutes under Rule 200(2) present for the final vote

Tiziana Beghin, Marco Zullo


OPINION of the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs (24.6.2015)

for the Committee on Regional Development

on the European Structural and Investment Funds and sound economic governance: guidelines for the implementation of Article 23 of the Common Provisions Regulation

(2015/2052(INI))

Rapporteur: Javi López

SUGGESTIONS

The Committee on Employment and Social Affairs calls on the Committee on Regional Development, as the committee responsible, to incorporate the following suggestions into its motion for a resolution:

1.  Welcomes the Commission’s criteria, highlighting the fact that the challenges Member States face are of a long-term nature and that the multiannual programmes financed by European Structural and Investment Funds (ESI Funds), meant to address these challenges, require certainty and permanence, and that frequent reprogramming should therefore be avoided and instead stability favoured in order to reinforce the predictability and credibility of programmes under ESI Funds; believes that the shorter term focus of the Country Specific Recommendations (CSRs) should not jeopardise the long-term goals of ESI Funds given the long-term and result-oriented nature of the ESI Funds and the annual cycle of the European Semester; trusts that the Commission and the Council will be very cautious when requesting the reprogramming of the funds or the suspension of payments for the programmes, according to the principle of EU solidarity, which is partly expressed through the mechanism of the share out of EU funding and which should remain a central tenet of EU policy;

2.  Highlights the fact that, in order to maximise their impact on growth, development, cohesion and job creation and to address new social and economic challenges when they emerge, investment supported by ESI Funds should take place in a sound macroeconomic framework; recalls, however, that the allocations under the ESI Funds are based on specific eligibility criteria linked to the level of development of EU regions, and therefore decisions to either reprogramme or suspend based on other criteria may be inconsistent with the rationale behind these funds;

3.  Points out that in certain cases reprogramming or suspension as regulated in Article 23 of the Common Provisions Regulation (CPR) could jeopardise achieving the objectives of the ESI Funds in all Member States, and especially in those that face deep macroeconomic and social imbalances; calls on the Commission to use the mechanism only when Member States have persistently failed to take effective action to address its requests to reprogramme, and where there is strong evidence that reprogramming could have a considerable direct impact on the programme’s potential for job creation; stresses that the Commission should demonstrate that the modifications do not negatively impact employment and social affairs targets as foreseen by Member States; calls on the Commission therefore to carry out an assessment of the impact on the unemployment rate and economic development in the countries concerned; stresses that every programme with long-term positive effects linked to social investment should remain untouched;

4.  Considers it counterproductive that ESI Funds supporting education, training and employment creation might be suspended if such funds are achieving their objectives; calls therefore on the Commission to be cautious in applying the first strand of Article 23 of the CPR to all programmes coming under any of the thematic objectives of the ESI Funds, in particular thematic objectives (8), (9) or (10), or the employment and social targets of the Europe 2020 Strategy and to accompany any modifications to programmes under ESI Funds with the appropriate guarantees that social cohesion objectives are respected; asks the Commission to strictly commit to applying the ESF minimum share provided for in Article 92(4) of the CPR;

5.  Calls on the Commission to take proportionate measures and to consider the economic and social circumstances of the Member States in order to avoid the suspension of commitments or payments provided for in the second strand of Article 23 of the CPR where Member States are involved in any of the situations described in sub-paragraphs (a) to (e) of paragraph 1 of Annex III to the CPR; calls on the Commission each time to assess the impact of suspension on unemployment and to try to alleviate possible undesirable effects for the affected population;

6.  Calls on the Commission, in applying Article 23 of the CPR, to devise a transparent, effective and democratic decision-making process to be applied in a consistent manner, in line with Article 23(15) of the CPR, which would include introducing an early warning system to inform the country concerned about the possibility of launching the reprogramming procedure immediately after the publication of the CSRs, and to allow Parliament, on the basis of a formalised process, to be informed at all stages of the adoption of reprogramming requests or of any proposals and decisions on suspension of commitments or payments;

7.  Calls on the Commission to establish a timescale for the lifting of the suspension under Article 23(8) of the CPR.

RESULT OF FINAL VOTE IN COMMITTEE

Date adopted

23.6.2015

 

 

 

Result of final vote

+:

–:

0:

43

8

0

Members present for the final vote

Guillaume Balas, Tiziana Beghin, Brando Benifei, Mara Bizzotto, Vilija Blinkevičiūtė, David Casa, Ole Christensen, Martina Dlabajová, Lampros Fountoulis, Marian Harkin, Rina Ronja Kari, Jan Keller, Ádám Kósa, Agnieszka Kozłowska-Rajewicz, Kostadinka Kuneva, Jean Lambert, Jérôme Lavrilleux, Patrick Le Hyaric, Jeroen Lenaers, Javi López, Thomas Mann, Dominique Martin, Anthea McIntyre, Joëlle Mélin, Emilian Pavel, Georgi Pirinski, Marek Plura, Sofia Ribeiro, Anne Sander, Sven Schulze, Siôn Simon, Jutta Steinruck, Yana Toom, Ulla Tørnæs, Marita Ulvskog, Renate Weber, Tatjana Ždanoka, Inês Cristina Zuber

Substitutes present for the final vote

Maria Arena, Georges Bach, Heinz K. Becker, Paloma López Bermejo, António Marinho e Pinto, Edouard Martin, Tamás Meszerics, Csaba Sógor, Helga Stevens, Monika Vana, Tom Vandenkendelaere

Substitutes under Rule 200(2) present for the final vote

Flavio Zanonato, Branislav Škripek


RESULT OF FINAL VOTE IN COMMITTEE

Date adopted

17.9.2015

 

 

 

Result of final vote

+:

–:

0:

28

3

4

Members present for the final vote

Pascal Arimont, José Blanco López, Franc Bogovič, Mercedes Bresso, Steeve Briois, Edward Czesak, Rosa D’Amato, Bill Etheridge, Michela Giuffrida, Krzysztof Hetman, Constanze Krehl, Andrew Lewer, Louis-Joseph Manscour, Martina Michels, Andrey Novakov, Younous Omarjee, Mirosław Piotrowski, Stanislav Polčák, Julia Reid, Liliana Rodrigues, Fernando Ruas, Maria Spyraki, Ruža Tomašić, Ramón Luis Valcárcel Siso, Ángela Vallina, Monika Vana, Lambert van Nistelrooij, Derek Vaughan, Kerstin Westphal, Joachim Zeller

Substitutes present for the final vote

Demetris Papadakis, Maurice Ponga

Substitutes under Rule 200(2) present for the final vote

Brando Benifei, Andrejs Mamikins, Soraya Post

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