The European Committee of the Regions (CoR) strongly opposes the proposed budgetary cuts to Cohesion and Common Agricultural Policies, which would have a detrimental effect on the development of EU’s regions and cities.
This was the main message delivered to Günther H. Oettinger, Commissioner for Budget and Human Resources by the members of the CoR during a debate on the current state of play of the EU multiannual financial framework (MFF) at the CoR Plenary session on 8 October.
Recognising the important role of this pillar of the European project, Commissioner Oettinger said: “Investments in cohesion policy in the future create added value, and that is only achievable if you have a certain level of available funding.” He expressed his concern regarding delays in the negotiations on the future of the policy. A final agreement is desired by the end of the year if the new programming period is to be well prepared for a swift start in January 2021.
“We have to do our utmost not to repeat the mistakes that happened last time around”, said Michael Schneider, President of the EPP-CoR Group, and continued: “Any delays would badly harm planned investments projects and the EU’s capability to deliver for its citizens.” He urges the Commissioner to facilitate negotiations between the European Parliament and the Council in order to reach a timely overall agreement on the next MFF. “Every new priority has to be accompanied with fresh resources”, Schneider concluded.
“We reconfirm our call for a strong budget that responds to the needs, expectations and concerns of EU citizens”, said Nikola Dobroslavić (EPP/HR), EPP-CoR rapporteur on the MFF. He asked how the European Commission intends to reconcile the need to finance both the existing policies as well as the new initiatives announced in President-elect Ursula von der Leyen’s Political Guidelines, such as the European Green Deal, within the framework of the current MFF proposals.
“We need to move forward on so many fronts, such as the Sustainable Development Goals, digitalisation and research. All of this requires European cooperation. Therefore, we need to reach out to our governments to tell them that we need more than one per cent of GNI for the next multiannual EU budget”, said Markku Markkula (EPP/FI).
The CoR supports the Commission in its effort to give a bigger role to territorial tools in the implementation of EU priorities. “The current urban focus of territorial tools lacks territorial cohesion. The Treaty defines cohesion for all territories, regions, communes, urban or rural,” said Csaba Borboly (EPP/RO). He called for clear rules which ensure that member states consult with local and regional authorities at an early stage when deciding where and how territorial tools will be used.
Mark Speich (EPP/DE) expressed his support for the the new Just Transition Fund to support coal regions in their green transition. This funding should be made available in addition to cohesion policy and managed by the regions, who know best their situation and needs.
In its resolution adopted today on the MFF, the CoR agrees with the European Parliament’s call for a full-fledged mid-term revision of the MFF, allowing for a thorough analysis of the achievement of main objectives, in particular on climate change and mainstreaming of Sustainable Development Goals and the use of all flexibility instruments.
The CoR urges to keep the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) as part of the Common Provisions Regulation (CPR), so as not to undermine the integrated approach of the Structural and Investment Funds in rural areas.
Read the full resolution here.