Valcárcel calls on the European Parliament to improve EU budget deal
The President of the Committee of the Regions (CoR), Ramon Luis Valcárcel today stressed that the deal on the Multi-Annual Financial Framework 2014-2020 reached by the European Council must be considered a starting point to shape the best possible budget through the coming negotiations. Addressing the European Parliament's Committee on Regional Development (REGI), President Valcárcel invited the Parliament to improve the agreement provisions on cohesion as well as the overall cohesion legislative package.
"Cohesion policy is facing an 8.5 % reduction of allocations, in comparison with the current budget. It is a serious cut, although we cannot forget that only one year ago a number of Member States were calling for its dismantling", argued President Valcárcel. He added that: "The agreement preserves cohesion's relative weight within the EU budget, maintains the architecture of the reform proposed by the European Commission and allows all regions to start programming their multiannual investment strategies. In the current economic context, this is a quite an achievement".
Nonetheless, Mr Valcárcel urged for a higher degree of flexibility within budget lines since flexibility is crucial to ensuring that regional policy is successfully implemented in the years to come. The Committee therefore supports the Parliament's call for a mid-term revision in order to adapt the budget according to the updated figures, matching the actual situation of regions.
During the debate with the REGI Committee members the CoR's President shared the disappointment raised by provisions such as macroeconomic conditionality and the performance reserve. He called on the Parliament to make every possible effort to re-affirm common positions shaped in previous months and make sure that local and regional authorities can plan and implement their operational programmes with the needed stability, predictability and fairness in allocation procedures.
Referring to the cohesion policy legislative package, President Valcárcel expressed appreciation for the first results achieved by the Parliament negotiating team and underlined the CoR priorities including the adoption of the EU code of conduct on partnership; the mentioning of the macroregional strategy within the General Regulation; the full involvement of local authorities in partnership agreements; and the taking into consideration of demographic criteria in the planning of operational programmes.
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The Committee of the Regions is the EU's assembly of regional and local representatives. The mission of its 344 members from all 27 EU Member States is to involve regional and local authorities and the communities they represent in the EU's decision-making process and to inform them about EU policies. The European Commission, the European Parliament and the Council are obliged to consult the Committee in policy areas affecting regions and cities. It can appeal to the EU Court of Justice if its rights are infringed or it believes that an EU law infringes the subsidiarity principle or fails to respect regional or local powers.
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