A busy week in Brussels
On 26 and 27 September, AER President Magnus Berntsson, Vice-President Anna Magyar and Rapporteur on the future of cohesion policy Michiel Rijsberman met with EU Commissioners Corina Creţu and Günther Oettinger, and the President of the Committee of the Regions, Karl-Heinz Lambertz in Brussels. The meetings covered the future of the EU budget and cohesion policy beyond 2020.
In continuation of this series of meetings, AER President Magnus Berntsson participated in the Structured Dialogue held on the 27 September with Commissioner Crețu, Commissioner Oettinger and European associations of cities and regions on the Reflection Paper on the future of EU finances.
Magnus Berntsson outlined AER’s position on the future of cohesion policy, stating that the need for a strong cohesion policy for all regions is as important as ever if the EU is to successfully address challenges faced today and effectively deliver the results for a greater economic, social and territorial cohesion beyond 2020.
As negotiations get underway on the future EU Budget and the shape of cohesion policy post 2020, Commissioner Creţu expressed her support for a modernised and simplified policy for all regions. In face of the EU budget shortfall due to the increased challenges and to Brexit, Commissioners Creţu and Oettinger called for regional and local authorities to scale up efforts to increase the visibility of cohesion policy and push national governments to step up their contributions to the future EU Budget.
And the time to do that is now!
The European Commission is currently finalising its 7th Report on economic, social and territorial cohesion, to be presented at the European Week of Regions and cities in Brussels on 9-12 October 2017. Later in the year/beginning of 2018, it will be holding an open consultation to gather input for the definition of the future cohesion policy. The findings will feed into the reform proposals the Commission is expected to set out by June 2018.
As for the EU political level, the Estonian Presidency expects to advance the discussions on the future of the EU Cohesion Policy already in the General Affairs Council of 15 November 2017. The negotiations will then be further developed during the Bulgarian and Austrian Presidencies, following the publication of the Commission’s proposals for the renewed policy in mid-2018.
The European Parliament will also formulate its position in preparation for the inter-institutional negotiations with the Council on the rules and regulations for implementing the future EU cohesion policy.
In parallel, the Commission will also prepare its proposals for the next Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF), including cohesion policy allocations, by May 2018.
AER is looking to these next steps in the EU budget and cohesion policy discussions and will continue to make inroads into European institutions, as well as national parliaments and governments, to shape a future cohesion policy that is able to deliver on the sustainable and inclusive development of European regions.
Together with other European associations of regions and cities and the Committee of the Regions, AER will engage in a broad Cohesion Alliance to advocate for a stronger, more effective and visible cohesion policy for all regions in the EU. The campaign will be launched during the European Week of Regions on the 11 October at the event Building the Cohesion Alliance – new ideas and next steps. We encourage you all to join the Coalition and sign up to its Key Principles.
The upcoming Bureau meeting in Maastricht on 29 November will be a great opportunity to look into the current challenges and future prospects for regional development in Europe; and to develop a common vision on the future of Europe and the direction the EU budget and cohesion policy should take.