EU regional development: Renew Europe calls for the implementation of the new cohesion policy to be accelerated

Author: Yannick Laude

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REGI press release

Renew Europe is concerned about the delays in implementing the new cohesion policy for the 2021-2027 budget programming period. At this stage, few member states have submitted their partnership agreement to the European Commission and only that of Greece has been approved. Consequently, only 0.2% of the appropriations planned for 2021 under the economic, social and territorial cohesion policy have been committed, a historically low rate. It is therefore a real alarm that the European Parliament sounded today, meeting in plenary session in Strasbourg, in a resolution urging the Member States to pull themselves together. Indeed, the main reason for these delays is explained by the choice of the Member States to prioritize the implementation of the Recovery and Resilience Facility and to concentrate their means almost exclusively on the programming of the REACT-EU special fund to the detriment of other traditional funds.

However, the resolution does not content itself with calling on the Member States to change gears in order to lead the programming of all the European funds for economic and social development. At the initiative of Renew Europe, the European Parliament also asks the Commission to prepare an emergency plan to mitigate the risk of under-implementation and de-commitments due to the late start of programmes. The situation is all the more tense as regional policy is also called upon for aid to Ukrainian refugees. In this regard, the resolution welcomes the flexibilities provided by the new Cohesion's Action for Refugees in Europe proposal (CARE), but calls for additional funding through the use of appropriations that risk being automatically decommitted due to programming delays.

Susana SOLÍS PÉREZ (Ciudadanos, Spain), Renew Europe shadow rapporteur for this resolution in the Parliamentary Committee for Regional Development (REGI), said :

"Cohesion policy is the EU's strongest weapon in our fight against interregional inequality. It is an investment policy, which aims to strengthen the economic, social and territorial cohesion of our Union. Member States and the Commission need to work together to ensure its implementation – without delay - for the current 2021-2027 programming period. Cohesion policy will play a stellar role in coming years, supporting our Member States as they continue to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, and our regions as they tackle the burden of Putin's attack on Ukraine. But, it will deliver: it will eliminate interregional disparities and ensure the economic growth and sustainable development of all European regions."