On 11-12 of April 11-12 2019, under the Romanian Presidency of the Council of the European Union, the Informal Meeting of Ministers responsible for Cohesion Policy took place in Bucharest.
The meeting, chaired by the Romanian Minister of European Funds, Ms. Rovana Plumb, was an opportunity for discussions on the future of the Cohesion Policy, which greatly contributes to the consolidation of the European project.
We recall that the European Commission’s budget proposal for the post-2020 Cohesion Policy is 373 billion euros, which means one third of the total EU budget. The document provides for more than 80 concrete measures to simplify the procedures and make better use of investments, particularly in Health, Education, Research and Innovation, but also to support those regions that are in greater need of development in order to rectify the gaps existing at the European level.
“The meeting I chaired today is extremely important because it reflects our desire and ministers’ colleagues to reach an agreement on the legislative framework by the end of the year. Our common goal is to give European citizens from the very first day of the next financial exercise the opportunity to benefit from European money in perfect harmony with their needs. Let’s not forget that European money contributes decisively to the European project and to improving the lives of every citizen. Starting from this premise, the Romanian Presidency of the Council of the European Union has, since the beginning of its mandate, succeeded in enforcing a common position of the Member States on the legislative framework for the implementation of the European funds, to support the advancement of negotiations on the future budget of the Union. Practically, by the end of Romania’s mandate, we are proposing to adopt the position of the 28 Member States in the Luxembourg Council of Ministers. The formalization of this decision is necessary to continue the negotiations with the future European Parliament. The results obtained will be used by the future Finnish Presidency, in order to obtain an agreement with the future European Parliament in the shortest possible time” said the minister for European Funds, Ms. Rovana Plumb.
In turn, the European Commissioner for Regional Policy, Ms. Corina Cretu pointed out that “Cohesion Policy is an eloquent response to the way the European Commission supports this investment policy for solidarity, a value that is at the heart of the European Union’s concerns. We all want to move forward the European project and I think everyone wants the Cohesion Policy to play an important role in this endeavor.”
Representatives of the Committee of the Regions, the European Economic and Social Committee, the Conference of Peripheral and Maritime Regions, the European Investment Bank, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the General Secretariat of the Council of the European Union also attended the meeting in the Palace of the Parliament.
Agenda of the meeting:
- Governance of European funds, in particular the link with the European Semester and economic governance from the perspective of implementation;
- Thematic concentration, the share of cohesion policy funds, co-financing rates and the need for flexibility to cover long-term needs and to reduce the development gaps between Member States and regions;
- Identify the balance between the bottom-up approach of the Cohesion Policy and the long-term needs and top-down recommendations from the European Semester, which is focused on structural reforms and economic governance to achieve a tangible socio-economic impact from the use of European funds.
The two-day guidelines provided by the European leaders in Bucharest have a direct impact on the programming of European funds. The debate was not intended to prevent the outcome of the MFF negotiations but to highlight the impact of political leadership choices on the implementation and results of the Cohesion Policy but without affecting the Union budget.
The debate took place before the Sibiu Summit of May 9, 2019, an important moment in the design of a stronger, more united, more coherent and democratic Europe. The Final Report of the White Paper on the Future of Europe, adopted by the European Commission on 1 March 2017, will be presented at the Summit.
On 30 January, the Commission presented a reflection paper on a more sustainable Europe by 2030, which encourages the discussion on how to pursue the sustainability goals in the EU.
The economic, social and territorial cohesion of the Union is the basis for a balanced and sustainable development, it strengthens the EU in the face of global crises, supports economic competitiveness, social justice and promotes a better quality of life for the European citizens.
The Presidency of Romania at the Council of the European Union is under the motto ‘Cohesion, a common European value’ and emphasizes the unity between the EU Member States and the importance of reducing the economic, social and territorial disparities at the Union level.