Cohesion policy takes centre stage in pandemic response

REGI MEPs said the Commission proposals are a good step forward for starting negotiations

Photo: EP Elisa Ferreira.

The new EU proposals concerning the recovery plan, REACT-EU and the common budget for the next seven-year period were the main focus during the exchange of views of the Regional Development Committee (REGI) MEPs with Elisa Ferreira, EU Commissioner for Cohesion and Reforms. 

Presenting a set of proposals the EU executive explained a week ago, the Commissioner emphasised the central role that cohesion policy has taken in EU’s response to the Covid-19 crisis and underlined that the economic recovery proposals under the new instrument “Next Generation EU” have a strong “cohesion DNA”.

She pointed out as well the need to resume as soon as possible the negotiations on the 2021-2027 MFF, and to kick start work on the new proposals, so as to make best use of the proposed instruments.

 Lawmakers labelled the proposals as a good step forward to start negotiations and acknowledged the efforts to table concrete solutions, that bring back the EU economy on the right track and avoid deepening of divides.

Among the concerns raised by the members of REGI were the distribution of the funds under REACT EU, defending the territorial cohesion principles, and its focus towards the less developed regions. They stressed that in the new seven-year budget proposal cohesion funding remains lesser than the current period, and considerably lower than the position of the EP.

Lawmakers also insisted more funds to be channelled through the well-established cohesion instruments, rather than through temporary top-ups and loans. Urging for reinforcement of the social dimension, they pointed some unclear aspects regarding control mechanisms, the analysis concerning the territories that will be the most affected socially and economically, the environmental aim of the recovery tools, the nature of projects to be financed, and the related time schedule.

Cohesion policy built Europe, it will also help rebuild it, stated REGI Chair, Younous Omarjee (GUE/NGL, FR). He commented that more than ever, Europe needs to work together in a very coherent and cohesive manner. Our committee is ready to work to safeguard the cohesion policy principles in the recovery package and I am confident that our concerns will be translated into constructive improvements, he said adding that no regions must be left behind.

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