Cohesion Policy is inextricably linked to the future of the EU as a whole. A strong and effective policy arrangement could be vital for a strong and effective European Union. But we need to make the future Cohesion Policy even more effective. How?
- Firstly, the Cohesion Policy has to become more flexible in the next funding period, without impact on the strategic focus and planning certainty for regional and local authorities. We have to diminish the bureaucratic burden in the future so that the Cohesion Policy will be successful in the long-term.
- Secondly, the management of EU-funded projects for the post-2020 period needs to be drastically simplified. Its implementation is heavily overregulated and complicated now. In doing so, the principles of subsidiarity shall be applied more consistently than has previously been the case.
- Thirdly, the basic structure of Cohesion Policy with its three categories – most developed regions, transition regions, and less developed regions – is tried and tested and should, therefore be retained. It is precise and at the same time flexible enough to allow the inclusion of new challenges and priorities.
In a nutshell, Cohesion Policy needs to be more flexible by allowing operational investing priorities to target specific challenges as they emerge, such as migration, natural disasters, changes in demographics. It should allow easier access to funds, by reducing bureaucracy and shifting priorities to actual impact of projects. And it should be more connected, by strengthening the links to other EU policies.
Adopted: 11 May 2017
This is one of the key opinions to ensure tomorrow's cohesion policy remains a pillar of the EU. Cohesion policy, with its strong regional and local identity, is the engine that drives Europe's economic growth; but yes a cohesion policy that is more tailored-made, better adapted to realities on the ground and simpler to use goes beyond growth and jobs; it is the cement that holds the EU together, a strong, modern and caring EU. This opinion shows that the Committee of the Regions and the Commission see eye to eye on tomorrow's Europe.
The best way to counter populism is through local engagement and investment. It's now time to build an alliance of those who believe Cohesion Policy must be part of Europe's future