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Procedure : 2004/0166(AVC)
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Document selected : A6-0178/2005

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PV 05/07/2005 - 13

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PV 06/07/2005 - 4.6

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Wednesday, 6 July 2005 - Strasbourg
Cohesion Fund

European Parliament resolution on the proposal for a Council Regulation establishing a Cohesion Fund (COM(2004)0494 - 2004/0166(AVC))

The European Parliament,

‐   having regard to the proposal for a Council Regulation (COM(2004)0494 - 2004/0166(AVC))(1),

‐   having regard to Article 161 of the EC Treaty,

‐   having regard to its resolution of 22 April 2004 on the third report on economic and social cohesion(2),

‐   having regard to its resolution of 8 June 2005 on Policy Challenges and Budgetary Means of the enlarged Union 2007-2013(3) and in particular the opinion of the Committee on Regional Development on this subject, and to the Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament on the Financial Perspectives 2007-2013 (COM(2004)0487),

‐   having regard to the proposal for a Council Regulation laying down general provisions on the European Regional Development Fund, the European Social Fund and the Cohesion Fund (COM(2004)0492 - 2004/0163(AVC))(4),

‐   having regard to Rule 75(3) of its Rules of Procedure,

‐   having regard to the interim report of the Committee on Regional Development and the opinions of the Committee on Budgets, the Committee on Budgetary Control and the Committee on Transport and Tourism (A6-0178/2005),

1.  Requests the Council and the Commission to take into account the following recommendations:

   i) considers that economic, social and territorial cohesion must remain a key basic component in defining European integration; considers therefore that the Cohesion Fund must continue to serve the Union's objective of promoting cohesion and solidarity between Member States;
   ii) requests that, during the new period, wherever there is a reference to economic and social cohesion, reference also be made to the concept of territorial cohesion and that special attention be paid to developing this new concept;
   iii) considers that a political solution should be sought for the territories of the Union that will be excluded in future as a result of enlargement;
   iv) supports the objectives of the Cohesion Fund and the principal means deployed for attaining them as proposed by the Commission;
   v) asks for support for the increase in the financial allocation for the Cohesion Fund from EUR 18 000 million (for the period 2000-2006) to EUR 62 990 million and for a balanced distribution between the eligible sectors of the environment and transport infrastructure coupled with some flexibility in intervention by the Fund;
   vi) points out that the appropriations set out in the proposal for a regulation on the Cohesion Fund (COM(2004)0494) cover only the period starting with the 2007 financial year and are for guidance only until such time as an agreement is reached on the Financial Perspectives covering 2007 and subsequent years;
   vii) takes the view that, once the next Financial Perspectives have been adopted, the Commission will either confirm the figures set out in the proposal for a regulation or submit adjusted figures to the European Parliament and the Council for their approval, thus ensuring compatibility with the ceilings;
   viii) stresses the strategic dimension and priority nature of the programming designed to increase the relevance effect of cohesion policy;
   ix) reiterates and stresses Parliament's role as a budget decision-making authority in this area;
   x) calls on the Council and the Commission to transfer to the financial documents (in accordance with Article 3 of the Financial Regulation) the annual breakdown of commitment appropriations as proposed by the Commission,
   xi) calls for the presentation of the Cohesion Fund budget to be improved and made clearer by separating the budget headings for each of the three budget areas referred to in Article 2 of the proposal for a regulation;
   xii) points out that the Cohesion Fund is subject to the provisions of the Financial Regulation and therefore insists on compliance with that Regulation;
   xiii) asks the Commission to add the following words at the end of Article 2(1) of the proposal for a regulation:"
as amended by Decision No 884/2004/EC;"
   xiv) maintains that, in addition to the trans-European transport networks, projects to improve regional networks and make them safe and operational should likewise be eligible under the Cohesion Fund;
   xv) requests the inclusion, in the different transport sectors belonging to the area of intervention of the Cohesion Fund, of coastal shipping, sea links and cross-connections with the outermost regions and smaller islands;
   (xvi) Article 2(3) of the proposal for a regulation should read as follows:"
areas that can be developed on a sustainable basis and clearly present environmental benefits, namely energy efficiency and renewable energy and, in the transport sector outside the trans-European networks, sections equivalent to motorways or trunk roads connecting the trans-European networks, rail (including rolling stock), river and sea transport, intermodal transport systems and their interoperability, management of road and air traffic, clean urban transport and public transport (including rolling stock and road infrastructure for coach and bus transport)."
   xvii) calls for the inclusion in Article 2 of the proposal for a regulation of an explicit reference in favour of people with disabilities and asks that the projects financed by the Cohesion Fund provide also for the possibility of removing barriers and obstacles of every kind;
   ( xviii) considers that the final financial agreement must ensure that the EU is able to meet the political challenges of our age, chief among which is the reform of the cohesion policy; to that end 0.41% of the EU's Gross National Product (GNP) is the appropriate level;
   xix) considers that the suspension of all or part of financial aid from the Fund in the event of the decision provided for in Article 104, paragraph 8, of the EC Treaty, must be the subject of a special decision by the Council and not occur automatically, as provided for by the proposal for a regulation;
   xx) calls for consistency to be ensured between projects financed by the Cohesion Fund and those financed under other Community programmes, especially where Natura 2000 is concerned;
   xxi) welcomes the extension of the scope of assistance to energy efficiency and renewable energy, as their application potential is great in the countries involved and consequent benefits, including improved air quality, the creation of new jobs and enhanced social justice, are of common European interest;
   xxii) considers that the rules relating to the major projects governed by Articles 38 to 40 of the proposal for a general regulation (COM(2004)0492) should be explicitly incorporated in the proposal for a regulation on the Cohesion Fund so as to make for greater transparency;
   ( xxiii) calls also for the explicit inclusion in the proposal for a regulation of the financing of technical assistance (studies, assessments, expert opinions, statistics, etc.) governed by Article 43 of the proposal for a general regulation;
   xxiv) underlines the need to introduce a flexibility clause, combined with a stringent monitoring procedure, concerning the ineligibility of expenditure on the purchase of land for an amount exceeding 10% of the total eligible expenditure for the operation concerned in Article 3(3) of this proposal for a regulation in order to allow a project to be carried out in cases where this amount is inadequate and may pose implementation problems; considers, however, that expenditure on the renovation of social housing with a view to achieving energy savings, protecting the environment and achieving the objective of social cohesion, should be made eligible;
   xxv) calls for the suspension of funding for projects developed in breach of EU environmental legislation;
   xxvi) asks the Commission to draw up a list of indicative priorities in the programming phase for the assessment of project outcomes in terms of quality and of the effectiveness of Community funding and its contribution to sustainability in all the areas financed by the Cohesion Fund;
   ( xxvii) requests the Commission to introduce the principle of a "premium system" so that the progress achieved by the best performing Member States can be rewarded, especially in terms of better evaluation of funded projects, better cost-benefit analysis, innovation and contribution to sustainable development;
   ( xxviii) considers that it would be helpful to enhance intervention by national, regional and local administrations in implementing the Cohesion Fund through specific support measures and application of 'best practice';
   xxix) supports the application of the automatic decommitment rule (the N+2 rule) to the Cohesion Fund; however, calls for flexibility in its application during the first three years of the new programming period;
   xxx) calls on the Commission to take into account the specific characteristics of peripheral Member States and island Member States eligible under the Cohesion Fund in view of the fact that they suffer from natural and demographic handicaps, resulting in difficulties and a disparity in the level of development;

2.  Instructs its President to request further discussion with the Council in conformity with Rule 75(3) of its Rules of Procedure and, where appropriate, to open the conciliation procedure with the Council under the 1975 Joint Declaration pursuant to Rule 56 of its Rules of Procedure;

3.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council and Commission.

(1) Not yet published in OJ.
(2) OJ C 104 E, 30.4.2004, p. 1000.
(3) Texts Adopted, P6_TA(2005)0224.
(4) Not yet published in OJ.

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