Just two days after the launch of a Europe-wide coalition for a strong and more effective EU regional policy after 2020, the EPP Group in the European Committee of the Regions today discussed the next steps for the cohesion alliance and its links to strategic investment at a workshop of 15th the European Week of Regions and Cities.
Cohesion policy is needed more than ever as a clear expression of European added-value and solidarity
Michael Schneider, President of the EPP Group in the European Committee of the Regions and rapporteur on the Future of Cohesion Policy beyond 2020, began before underlining that it must be supported by the right funding mix. “Our local experience shows that we need to ensure that this continues to be a strong and effective EU policy with sufficient resources after 2020, in the same proportion as today.” The call was heard by Nicola De Michelis, Head of Cabinet for the European Commissioner for Regional Policy, who reassured participants by stressing that “Cohesion Policy is and will remain the backbone of Europe“. Andrey Novakov, Member of the European Parliament, agreed:
€2.5 trillion in two decades for the development of regions and cities simply pays off. EU investments are our argument in the face of euroscepticism
Despite the unanimous support for a strong Cohesion Policy in the future, participants nevertheless highlighted the need for urgent improvements in the regulations so that local and regional authorities can really feel the benefits. Olgierd Geblewicz, President of West Pomerania Region, President of the Union of the Provinces of the Republic of Poland, said
Cohesion Policy should retain its strategic nature, ensuring a sustainable and adaptable investment framework to support long-term development impacts.
He also called for a radical change in the way that the impact and added value on the ground are communicated to EU citizens.
Markku Markkula, 1st Vice-President of the European Committee of the Regions, reiterated the need to consider all forms of funding when discussing investment, from the Multi-Financial Framework and Cohesion policy to the European Fund for Strategic Investment because they all have unique but not opposite philosophies. Here, the workshop participants agreed on the need for simplification, flexibility and better coordination with other EU policies before concluding that the balancing of funding instruments and grants for cohesion policy are essential elements for any debate on the Policy’s future.
Summing up the mood in the room, Iliyana Tsanova, Deputy Managing Director of the European Fund for Strategic Investment, European Investment Bank, concluded:
We need a forward looking policy that is close to citizens’ needs – education, skills, jobs of the future.