- same or higher amount for cohesion after 2027
- call on the Commission to launch Just Transition Fund 2
- remaining 2021 resources to help projects threatened by price increase
European Parliament adopted the 8th Cohesion report stressing the need for additional financial resources.
European Parliament resolution about the 8th Cohesion Report prepared by the rapporteur Constanze Krehl (S&D, Germany) was adopted on Thursday by 448 votes against 61 and 75 abstentions. MEPs insist on maintaining the cohesion budgetary resources at least at the same level as in 2021-2027 financial period with additional money allocated in the Just Transition Fund II to be able to respond new challenges facing the EU. They highlight that the flexibility of cohesion policy should not be misused and it should not become a flexible source of finances for budgetary shortcoming but a long-term instrument preparing the EU regions for the future. The European Parliament also calls for a two-track approach easing the payment process - the content-related negotiations should be concluded before the financial ones to allow for a timely preparation of projects by the authorities.
Overcoming the trap
Although according to the report, the developed eastern regions have been catching up with the rest of the EU, there are less developed regions, mostly in the southern Europe, facing economic stagnation and decline. This suggests that they are in the development trap. These areas will thus require investments into education, training, research, innovation and infrastructure to maintain their growth and avoid the trap.
Although according to the Cohesion report differences between countries disappear faster, internal disparities between regions especially in fast-growing EU countries increase. Although between 2012 and 2019 the number of Europeans at risk of poverty or social exclusion decreased by 17 million, the pandemics increased this risk again for 5 million people in the EU. Moreover, MEPs note that 20% of EU population still faces that risk. Also, the report notes that the EU population is ageing and differences in terms of employment opportunities between regions are larger than in 2008.
Less centralisation needed
MEPs believe that Recovery and Resilience facility is an instrument compatible with cohesion policy, but regret its centralised character, lack of regional dimension and absence of consultations with regional and local bodies when it comes to its implementation. They also call on the European Commission to draw lessons from the use of the Just Transition Fund helping regions with transition to carbon neutrality and use these lessons to launch a new fund in the aftermath of the programming period ending in 2027.
The European Parliament also invites the European Commission to use remaining 2021 resources to help EU-financed infrastructure projects in transport, energy or digital sector given that their prices increased due to higher costs of raw and construction materials and their implementation could thus be at risk.
Following the vote, the European Parliament rapporteur Constanze Krehl (S&D, Germany) noted: "With the cohesion report the European Parliament presents its vision for the future of EU funding. We want a modern policy that steers the EU in the right direction.The climate crisis is the biggest challenge the EU is facing at the moment and in this report we ask the commission to help the regions in this major transition by providing a new Just transition fund that will be available not only for coal regions but for all regions with industry in transition such as steel and aluminium. This will help the regions and the Union to achieve climate neutrality as soon as possible."
The European Commission publishes the report on the economic, social, and territorial cohesion in the EU every three years. It assess the progress made through the cohesion policy and the role of the EU in the regional development. The 8th Cohesion Report published on 9 February, shows the impact of the coronavirus pandemic at the regional level.