- at least same funding for cohesion in the new programming period
- new procedure to eliminate delays in deployment
- more focus on outermost and border regions
EP’s committee on regional development advocates boosting cohesion policy funding and suggests a new procedure to avoid delays in programme deployment.
Regional development MEPs want additional funds for cohesion policy, at least at the same level as in 2021-2027 programming period, topped up with the second generation Just Transition Fund in a resolution on the 8th Cohesion Report adopted on Tuesday with 28 votes in favour and 13 abstentions. They consider additional funds necessary to allow the regions to cope with challenges affecting the EU and a possible recession.
Cohesion funds not to cover budget insufficiencies
MEPs highlight that the cohesion policy is a long-term investment into regions’ future and therefore should not become a source of flexible financing to cover budgetary shortcomings. They regret that delays in the multiannual financial framework negotiations lead to delays in the programming period and thus suggest dividing the process into two parts, with the content-related political part to be concluded before the financial one to allow the authorities for timely content preparations. Regional development MEPs invite the Commission to propose the use of remaining 2021 cohesion resources to cover increased costs of EU-financed infrastructure projects in energy, transport and digital area as a response to rising prices of raw and construction material.
Although the 8th Cohesion report finds that the developed eastern EU regions have been catching up with the rest of the EU, several less developed regions, especially in southern EU, are in economic stagnation or decline, MEPs say, suggesting that they are in a development trap. They therefore urge the Commission to identify these regions and provide them with additional resources for education, research and development and social services to restart their development.
More focus on outermost and border regions
The draft resolution also regrets, that the 8th Cohesion report does not pay particular attention to outermost, northernmost sparsely populated regions, islands, mountain areas and cross-border regions. MEPs say that border regions were particularly affected by the pandemic and emphasise that the European Cross Border Mechanism proposed by the Commission would have helped to remove more than 50% of the existing barriers for the development of border regions. They thus deeply regret that the Commission proposal has been blocked by the Council and invite the Commission to try to relaunch this initiative.
“Regional development committee has decided today that we need to maintain a strong and modern cohesion policy after 2027. With this report we give impulses for the debates on the future funding period. We highlighted especially the role cohesion policy plays in fighting the climate crisis and supporting the regions in the transition towards a carbon neutral Europe. A new and restructured Just Transition Fund will help industrial regions with these challenges,” said EP rapporteur Constanze Krehl (S&D, DE) following the vote.
The resolution on the 8th Cohesion report will be voted by the full house of the Parliament during the Plenary session in September.
Every three years, the Commission publishes a report on the economic, social, and territorial cohesion in the EU, assessing progress and the role of the EU in the regional development. The Commission published the 8th Cohesion Report on 9 February 2022. It provides an insight into the impact of the coronavirus pandemic at the regional level.