Joint REGI-COTER meeting
The negotiations on the 2021-2027 EU budget and regulations for the European Structural and Investment (ESI) funds were discussed during the last the joint REGI-COTER meeting on 8 October 2019. Over the last few years, MEPs and local leaders have mobilised to defend a strong cohesion policy for 2021-2027 that continues to support citizens and businesses in all European regions, involving regional and local governments in investment decisions. Together they also defend simplified rules and an EU cohesion policy not subjected to conditionalities which are not directly related to its goals and beneficiaries.
REGI and COTER committees criticised the budgetary cuts demanded by some Member States and a possible weakening of the legislative framework on local actors' involvement, and recalled the position of both the European Parliament and the Committee of the Regions.
REGI and COTER members also shared their concerns and priorities with Regional Policy Commissioner Johannes Hahn, who is also the incoming Commissioner for EU Budget. The discussion highlighted the need to secure adequate funding to help all the EU's regions and cities become greener, more inclusive and smarter, making an efficient use of ESI funds. As for the link between cohesion policy and structural reforms, the two committees members reminded that it had to be two-way, that the objectives of cohesion policy should not be diverted, and that it was also imperative to see the objective of cohesion tranversally applied in all EU policies as required by the Treaties. Reducing disparities and boosting the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals must become shared priorities and not undermined by a top-down, austerity-focused approach to reforms.
Take away message
Members of the European Parliament and European Committee of the Regions will fight for adequate rules and funds for a stronger cohesion policy.
They urged Member States to have a clear ambition for more cohesion and a real budget for the EU.
REGI and COTER rapporteurs expressed their committment to join forces and continuing with this inter-institutional cooperation in favour of securing a strong cohesion policy for the future.
"The possibility of a delay of the next Multiannual Financial Framework, which would stop this policy for one or two years, would directly impact the fight against the climate crisis and would increase the growing social and territorial inequalities", said COTER chair Isabelle Boudineau.
"Lacking ambition for cohesion policy means lacking ambition for Europe. Cutting the budget would be a hard blow to the European project. It means we are starting to give up while offering a victory to the europhobes. We will not allow this to happen." said REGI chair Younous Omarjee.