The negotiations on the Partnership Agreements and Operational Programmes show that while local and regional authorities were consulted in most cases, their involvement did not amount to full partnership. The rapporteur therefore warns that the partnership principle cannot be perceived as an empty concept, but rather a precondition for the success of cohesion policy. Moreover, effective partnership means faster development opportunities for EU citizens. Throughout this opinion, he underlines that regional and local authorities want structural and investment funds to be implemented in a much more effective way and stand ready to contribute as full partners. In situations where the partnership is superficial, the rapporteur calls on the European Commission to assist in identifying the mechanisms, which would put the partnership back on track. Turning to the European Commission’s decision to produce annual reports summarising the implementation reports of the Member States from 2016 onwards, Mayor Žagar invites Commissioner Crețu to discuss the findings with the Committee of the Regions. Following the financial and economic crisis, regions are concerned about the high levels of debt and austerity measures that are being imposed by higher levels and a lack of available subnational financial resources. In this regard, it praises European Investment Bank’s Structural Programme Loans and calls on the Commissions’ Investment Plan, targeting different policy levels, to complement the cohesion funds and programmes.

In article 5 of the Common Provisions Regulations we safeguarded the wish of the CoR to work in a strong partnership with the regions and cities. This agreement in the "Code of Conduct" has not been followed in some member states. Ivan Zagar puts the finger on the painful reality.

Lambert Van Nistelrooij
EPP Group coordinator for regional affairs

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