‘s-Hertogenbosch (NL), 29 April 2011
On the occasion of its spring Bureau meeting, members of the Assembly of European Regions (AER) went over the conclusions of the 5th report on economic, social and territorial cohesion of the European Commission again, in particular the reference to the possible creation of a new intermediate category of regions that can receive financial support under Cohesion Policy. It is within this context that a position on the future of “intermediate” and “transition” regions was adopted by the AER.
The AER calls for adequate, transparent and fair solutions for all regions, including those who find themselves just above the threshold of the convergence objective (less than 75% of GDP per capita average in Europe) but retain a GDP of less than 90% of the mean. The AER believes that there will be no problem in financing this new category of aid, as the funds allocated to the two other objectives will be automatically reduced when the regions come out of these categories.
Michèle Sabban, President of the Assembly of European Regions, welcomed this stance, stressing that “cohesion policy should remain a policy for all Europeans, and therefore continue to support all regions for the sake of competitiveness, innovation and employment. “
There are in fact between 40 and 50 billion Euros, which could be distributed to European regions who have exceeded the level of convergence but have not fully reached the stage of competitiveness. This intermediate category – from 75% to 90% of EU GDP per capita – would cover some 50 regions of 12 EU member states (Belgium, Germany, France, Greece, United Kingdom, Portugal, Malta, Spain, Italy, Austria, Poland and Finland).
Lambert Van Nistelrooij, Member of European Parliament, joined the AER debate on the future of Europe. He addressed the following message to Europe’s regions: “The Europe 2020 strategy is in fact a contract between the European Union and the Member States; the sub-national level must also form contracts with States, contracts that clearly stipulate the role of each party, lest the budgets shrink and the domination of the national level increases. This would mark a retreat from the progress made to date in terms of cohesion policy. Now is the time for you to act and become true partners in shaping the future of Europe and its citizens. I propose to negotiate for a territorial pact in every member state”.
The AER members have already anticipated this advice through their White Paper on the future of cohesion policy, which was communicated to respective states and the European institutions.
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