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Brussels, 30 September 2013
Statement by Commissioner Johannes Hahn at the General Affairs Council: Member States must urgently find deal with European Parliament on Cohesion Policy Reform
Addressing EU Foreign and Europe Ministers today at the General Affairs Council in Brussels, Commissioner for Regional Policy Johannes Hahn said Member States and the European Parliament must bridge their differences on the reform of cohesion policy ahead of critical talks later this week.
Agreement on the plans to reform the policy and to create a common set of rules for EU funds is also necessary for final approval of the EU's 2014-2020 budget.
Commissioner Hahn said, "There is a real urgency now to strike a deal and find a reasonable compromise. Every institution - Member States, Parliament and we at the Commission has duty to move in order to reach agreement."
"The longer we delay, the more we put in question the impact of more than 400 billion EUR of investments around Europe and the possibility of recovery and growth."
"We are close to agreement. On the few remaining issues - macroeconomic conditionality, performance reserve, co-financing and pre financing - I urge the Member States and Parliament to explore common ground, bridge their differences and seal the deal when they meet for crucial 'Trilogue' talks on Wednesday."
"The EU's Cohesion Policy and its funds are now the main sources of public investment in many Member States – they are also the EU's main instrument to bring about its key priorities for growth and jobs: through supporting the low carbon economy, SMES, the digital agenda, innovation and research."
"The reforms now on the table will create the framework for this to happen. They demand a new focus, strategy and a new discipline in the way investments are used so their impact is maximised."
The European Parliament hopes for a full plenary vote by MEPs on the Reform Package at the second October session in Strasbourg to confirm a deal which would then pave the way for a final agreement on the EU budget and the finalisation of EU funded programmes for 2014-2020.
Cohesion policy reform will align the structural funds much more closely with the priorities of the EU's 2020 growth agenda. It also places greater emphasis on results and budget discipline through the concepts of macro-economic conditionality and performance reserve. A common framework - also part of the package - will establish the same rules for all funds making them clearer and simpler to use.