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IP/07/457

Brussels, 2 April 2007

Danuta Hübner: Cohesion policy 2007-2013 already on fast track to deliver growth and jobs

Regional policy Commissioner Danuta Hübner announced today that preparations for the new cohesion policy are now at full speed to deliver more growth and quality employment to the European regions. Programmes worth 90% of the total budget of cohesion policy are now being negotiated. Vladimír Špidla, Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities, joined Ms Hübner in praising all Member States for submitting their strategic plans and priorities for the new programming period in time and asked them to keep up the pace for the remaining operational programmes.

During a press conference in Brussels, under the "Making it happen, delivering Cohesion Policy 2007-2013" title, Commissioner Danuta Hübner said:

"We are at a turning point for cohesion policy 2007-2013, it is also a turning point for the drive to modernise our regions, to modernise our Union. Today, more than €311.5 billion worth of programmes are being negotiated by my services and the services of Commissioner Špidla with a view to start investments on the ground as soon as possible."

Commissioner Špidla added: "It is clear to me that Member States have fully endorsed the strategic approach agreed with the Commission. Using the funds over the coming years means that we will be able to deliver the objectives of Growth and Jobs on the ground."

The documents setting Member States' priorities (National Strategic Reference Frameworks - NSRFs) have all been sent to the Commission by 5 March 2007, within the deadline foreseen in the Cohesion policy regulations. The NSRFs are currently under examination by the Commission.

"The message from Member State Strategies is clear," said Commissioner Hübner. "Programmes in the new period will deliver EU priorities of growth, jobs and sustainable development on the ground. There will be also major investments in renewable energies and energy efficiency, as well as infrastructures of European importance".

"Early estimates suggest that around €200bn will be spent directly on investments to deliver the Lisbon Agenda including €50bn on R&D and innovation and €70bn on human capital," added Commissioner Špidla.

Two of NSRFs, sent respectively by Malta and Greece, have been finalised and the Commission has issued a decision on the list of Operational Programmes, the indicative annual allocation from each Fund by programme and other aspects. Commission Decisions on Austria, Denmark and Germany's NRSFs will be adopted in the coming days. This process will continue during May, June and July. The Commission expects to have all decisions related to NSRFs to be adopted by the end of July.

As for the Operational Programmes, the Commission has received 311 (206 for European Regional Development Fund, ERDF, and 105 for European Social Fund, ESF) out of a total of 441 expected.

Commissioner Hübner announced the introduction of a "programming scoreboard" available on the Regional Policy website displaying in a table all developments related to the finalisation of the National Strategic Reference Frameworks and the adoption of the Operational Programmes.

Cohesion policy has a budget of EUR 347.4 billion for the period 2007-2013. This represents 35% of the Community budget and is the biggest investment of its kind in the history of the Union. The Commission has been cooperating closely with the national authorities in view of the finalisations of the national strategic reference frameworks, which link with the more general national reform programme where member states describe specific measures to modernise their economy in the context of what is known as Lisbon strategy for jobs and growth.

Further information about European Regional Policy available at:

http://ec.europa.eu/regional_policy/index_en.htm

For more information on the European Social Fund:

http://ec.europa.eu/esf


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