The president of the Committee of the Regions, Ramon Luis Valcárcel, considers the Spring Council outcome as "an important step towards urgent and necessary change in the EU strategy to balance fiscal consolidation and gr owth measures." A more flexible interpretation of the fiscal legal framework is needed to provide EU regions and cities with a wider margin to invest in growth and competitiveness and to promote youth employment.
According to the CoR president, even in the absence of formal new decisions, the European Council has paved the way to taking advantage of the possibilities offered by the existing rules to balance strategic investment with fiscal consolidation. Under this scenario, regions and cities could continue striving to create new jobs for young peopleand to make our economies more competitive against the backdrop of an improved budgetary framework. For many EU regions, this is crucial to ensuring the full implementation of the current cohesion policy operational programmes and the effective start of 2014-2020 programmes.
Mr Valcárcel is also pleased about the importance given to the implementation of the Growth Compact and of all the initiatives put in place to boost recovery: "If implementation is the key and Europe is determined to overcome the delays and the difficulties encountered up to now in putting the growth agenda into practice, the proper involvement of regional and local authorities in planning and making concrete input is the only way to make sure that invested money will reach citizens and businesses and improve the opportunities open to them". To this end, he calls for "cooperation among EU, national and regional and local levels of governance to be stepped up without delay, starting with the ongoing European Semester exercise."
As regards the review of the Europe 2020 Strategy, Mr Valcárcel welcomes the work programme announced by the Council and reiterates the commitment of the Committee of the Regions to contributing to this process by focusing on the strategy's territorial implementation, as agreed with the president of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy, at the meeting held ahead of the Spring Council. By spring 2014 the outcome of the review process should result in significant improvements.