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Brussels, 20 November 2013
EU Cohesion Policy: Commission welcomes European Parliament's support for fundamental reforms
Johannes Hahn and László Andor, European Commissioners for Regional Policy and for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion respectively, have warmly welcomed the European Parliament's vote today to endorse reform of Cohesion Policy. The Parliament gave its consent to new rules that refocus investment in the real economy, on key areas to create jobs and foster growth. The reforms also set new conditions for funding and place a greater emphasis on measuring results. In addition, they put in place some common rules for all five European Structural and Investment Funds (European Regional Development Fund, European Social Fund, Cohesion Fund, European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development, European Maritime and Fisheries Fund) for the 2014-2020 period and make them simpler to use. The new rules are due to be formally adopted shortly by the EU's Council of Ministers.
Speaking after the vote Commissioner Johannes Hahn said:
"After a long set of negotiations, the Parliament has given its consent to reforms which transform Cohesion Policy into the EU's principle investment tool for delivering the Europe 2020 goals: promoting the real economy, creating growth and jobs, tackling climate change and energy dependence.
These reforms are fundamental. They are aimed at ensuring a maximum impact for every euro spent - for the benefit of citizens. They do this by concentrating investments on a few key priorities for growth. For example, it is our aim that through the European Regional Development Fund support for small and medium sized businesses – the lifeblood of Europe's economy – should double from around €70 billion in the current period to €140 billion in 2014-2020. These are the main areas where jobs can be created and maintained in a sustainable way.
Focusing on the real economy, innovation, research and supporting renewables and energy efficiency, EU Cohesion Policy is at the heart of the EU's modern budget approved yesterday by MEPs. This vote now clears the way for member states to step up the programme planning so ordinary citizens can soon feel the benefit of these investments."
Commissioner László Andor said:
"The European Social Fund, together with the Youth Employment Initiative, will be a key instrument to support Member States' investment in employment, human capital and effective administration. More than €74 billion will be invested to help millions of people to get a job and to improve their skills. It will support Member States' efforts to improve their active labour market policies, for example through more efficient public employment services, and to reduce poverty by helping the most vulnerable people to get skills and jobs and have the same opportunities as others to integrate into society. I look forward to working with each Member State in the coming months to allocate ESF money in the most effective way to meet their employment and social challenges."
One third of the EU's 2014-2020 budget (see IP/13/1096) will be directed towards stimulating Europe's economy and creating jobs through the EU's new Cohesion Policy. The €325 billion allocated to Europe's Member States, their regions and cities will be focussed on key priorities such as tackling youth unemployment, support for SMEs, innovation and the low carbon economy.
Through the European Social Fund (ESF), worth more than €70 billion, Cohesion Policy will provide a significant contribution to EU priorities in the field of employment (for example through training and life-long learning), education and social inclusion. The new Youth Employment Initiative (€3 billion, plus at least €3 billion from the ESF) will financially support the implementation of the Youth Guarantee.
The rules for spending Cohesion Policy money under the EU's 2014-2020 budget framework have been simplified to ensure easier and better co-ordination. There is also a much clearer link between EU funds and economic governance, in particular the country-specific recommendations.
For more information:
MEMO/13/1011 – Cohesion Policy Reform in 10 points
Infographic on the new Cohesion Policy
EP Press release on the endorsement of the Cohesion Policy Reform and the Strategic Framework
Key aspects of ESF reforms: