Democrats and liberals support a regional policy more in line with EU macroeconomic objectives
The Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe have called for an ambitious reform of regional policy, fully integrating the Union's strategic guidelines on competitiveness, innovation and employment. The European Commission has just published its draft Multiannual Financial Framework 2021-2027 and is going to present its cohesion policy proposals shortly. The Democrats and Liberals demand, in a position paper just adopted, that future regional policy would have to cover all Member States and all regions of the Union.
Our priority is to better target investments, in complementarity with other common policies, such as the R & D program Horizon 2020 or the SME support program COSME. ALDE envisages that the share of co-financing by Member States could increase. The performance reserve, which rewards regional projects in line with the objectives set, must be maintained. Conversely, poorly prepared projects that are struggling to find their national financing must be abandoned and the so-called N + 2 budget relief rule must be reinstated.
"Cohesion policy is the strongest expression of solidarity in the EU. It is important that we maximize its potential post 2020, strengthening its flexibility, added value, as well as its coherence and consistency with the European Semester process", said Iskra Mihaylova (Bulgaria, Movement for Rights and Freedoms), President of the Committee on Regional Development (REGI)
ALDE believes that cross-border regional cooperation is a particularly well-suited means for achieving the traditional objectives of regional development, when combined with other common policies. This is why the Democrats and the Liberals are pushing for a doubling of the Interreg program and hope that cross-border cooperation can also be applied to border areas of the EU.
In addition to synergies with other policies, ALDE insists that regional policy becomes a relevant part of the European Semester and participates in the implementation, at regional level, of the macroeconomic objectives of the EU and the euro area. This conditionality for the payment of European subsidies must be accompanied by incentives for structural reforms. In this respect, ALDE welcomes the Commission's proposal to create a specific budget instrument for this purpose in the next MFF.
Matthijs Van Miltenburg (The Netherlands, D66), ALDE spokeperson amid the REGI Committee, said: “In the last period, cohesion policy supported four hundred thousand SMEs and helped almost 9,5 million people to find a new job. In the future, it will remain the number one investment policy in the EU to strengthen economic, social and territorial cohesion. With more focus in our spending and structural reforms, we will boost our competitiveness and economic growth. We make Cohesion Policy great again, for a Europe that delivers!”
The Democrats and Liberals also welcome the Commission's suggestion to introduce a new conditionality for the payment of European subsidies, based on the founding values of the Union. Our group has led the fight in Parliament to obtain a more scrupulous respect for the rule of law.