“…and not a competition between the regions”
Representatives of the Assembly of European Regions (AER) discussed today with Commisioner Hübner on the future of cohesion policy in the framework of the ongoing reform. The following requests were given to the Commisioner:
Cohesion and the Lisbon agenda
“There is tremendous potential for economic development in the regions of Europe. We think that cohesion policy should support the regions in exploring, developing and using this potential. To define top-down priorities for the whole of Europe will in light of the diversity and differences in the regions certainly not be the successful approach” explained Onno Hoes, President of the AER ‘Regional policy’ Committee and Member of the executive Board of Noord-Brabant-NL. Moreover, the specificities of certain areas, such as rural areas, must be better taken into account. “To overcome these difficulties, we suggest that the priorities of the new Objective 2 should be defined by the Regions themselves in the programme preparation period” added Onno Hoes.
Coordination with other EU policies
Cohesion policy and other European policies should be consistent. The guidelines that the EU is preparing for regional airports is an example of the potential danger resulting from incoherent European policies. What is supported by one of the policies, like economic development, sometimes is threatened by another.
Financial framework and rules
The AER underlines that the draft financial perspectives of 0,41% EU GDP (2007-2013) are a strict minimum if cohesion policy is to remain credible and tackle the challenges posed by enlargement and globalisation. Finally, the AER expressed its concerns about the maintenance of automatic decommitment (N+2 rule) that should be more flexible, especially for long-term projects.
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